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Cancer charity worker’s melanoma caught early thanks to colleague

A North Yorkshire cancer charity worker’s potentially deadly melanoma was caught early when a fellow volunteer spotted it on her arm.

And Margaret Redfern’s cancer was swiftly diagnosed thanks to new technology bought for GPs by York Against Cancer, the charity for which she and her friend Ann Woodward work.

Upper Poppleton residents Ann and Margaret have run York Against Cancer’s shop in York Hospital on Friday afternoons for eight years, becoming firm friends in the process.

It was during one such Friday afternoon that Ann noticed a mole on the back of Margaret’s arm.

“I had seen it for a while, and I asked my daughter, ‘Do you think I should tell her to go to the doctor?’ and she said that I should.”

Margaret said: “Ann was nattering to me about this mole on my arm that I couldn’t see. She kept on about it so in the end I thought I would go to the GP.”

Margaret’s GP, Dr Jo Simpson of Upper Poppleton surgery, examined her with a dermatoscope, a new instrument bought by York Against Cancer for use in GP practices in the Vale of York.

The dermatoscope takes clear, detailed pictures of suspicious lesions for doctors to send electronically to hospital dermatologists for analysis.

The pictures help to quickly distinguish between patients with benign conditions and those who need hospital assessment and/or treatment, sparing many people unnecessary hospital appointments.

Margaret was called in to hospital to have her mole removed.

“I was told it was a melanoma, but it wasn’t too deep, it was on the low scale,” Margaret said. “They took a lymph node and apparently it was clear. I have to have three-monthly checks now for five years; I have told Ann that it’s all her fault!”

Ann said: “I was really surprised when I heard that it was cancer. I didn’t think it would be, but you just never know. It’s great that she is clear now.”

Dr Dan Cottingham, a local GP and NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s Macmillan Cancer Lead, said: “The CCG has been working with York Against Cancer since 2016 and is extremely grateful for their involvement and financial support in supplying 57 dermatoscopes for use at GP surgeries in the Vale of York area. We continue to supply training to all GPs to improve the quality of the pictures and aid in the diagnostic process.

“Cancer was identified by Vale of York residents as being among the most important topics when the CCG asked them ‘what is important about local healthcare services?’ at our ‘big conversation’ engagement events last year.

“The CCG has reflected this view in its 2018-19 commissioning intentions and is working closely with the Humber Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance and providers to implement the changes needed to achieve the ambitions of the national cancer strategy and the NHS Constitution cancer targets.”

Dr Andy Muinonen-Martin, a consultant dermatologist who is skin cancer lead at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Honorary Consultant Dermatologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s melanoma clinic, spearheaded the project.

He said: “The system developed in the Vale of York is far ahead of what is on offer for patients in many other areas. We have pioneered the process for using this technology in York.

 “We are very proud of this referral model and other trusts in the region are developing similar systems as a result.

“Skin cancer is common and we are in the middle of an epidemic. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and there are high numbers here compared to other countries. There is a perfect storm due to this epidemic and a static dermatology workforce, so we need to use technology and processes like this to innovate to address this.

“It was great that Ann was able to talk to her friend Margaret about the mark, particularly because it was in a difficult place for her to see.

“By bringing it to Margaret’s attention she was able to go to her GP, who was then able to take high-quality images through the dermatoscope and send them through and she has a very good prognosis.

“Had Ann not spotted it, it might not have been seen until much later and it could have been much more serious.

“Detecting skin cancers early like this is essential as many are curable at this stage and the surgery required leaves much smaller scars.”

Professor Steve Leveson, Chairman of York Against Cancer, said: “We are committed to improving the patient experience. We were happy to be able to fund the dermatoscopes as they always struck us as a good, value-for-money investment. Dermatoscopes hopefully shorten waiting times and improve the patient’s journey.”

Local health commissioners appoint new Governing Body members

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has made new appointments to its Governing Body to place an even greater focus on clinical issues and good quality patient outcomes.

‘Place’ is becoming increasingly important in the Vale of York and the move to focus on population and place is allowing the CCG to plan with partners and challenge where things do not work as well as they could for patients.

To support this work, the CCG’s Governing Body has reviewed its membership to help put an even brighter spotlight on clinical issues and good quality patient outcomes with the recruitment of a new Clinical Chair - Dr Nigel Wells; and three GPs that represent the north, central (York) and south localities of the Vale of York.

Dr Wells, a GP partner at Beech Tree Surgery in Selby, said: “I’m thrilled to have joined the CCG to take up the newly created role as Clinical Chair. My role is to help influence and forge relationships around the healthcare community to ensure we get the best healthcare and wellbeing for everyone living in the Vale of York.

“In the coming months, I’ll be working with colleagues to forge those relationships with our partners in hospital trusts, mental health, local authorities and the voluntary sector to make sure that we get the best impact and the best healthcare we can for all people.

“We have a real emphasis on place at present and we want to ensure that all localities and all places within the Vale of York get the best healthcare possible.”

An introductory video in which Dr Wells discusses his new role and his aspirations for healthcare in the Vale of York can be viewed here:

Dr Andrew Field, a GP partner at York Medical Group, has been appointed as GP representative for the central (York) locality; Dr Helena Ebbs, a GP partner at Pickering Medical Practice, has been recruited as GP representative for the north locality; and Dr Ruth Walker, a GP partner at Selby’s Scott Road Medical Centre, joins as the south locality’s GP representative.

The CCG’s Governing Body is responsible for approving local commissioning plans and the monitoring of quality and the performance of local services. It also oversees the organisation’s good governance processes and promotes the strong involvement of member practices, the local community and other key stakeholders.

The next Governing Body meeting takes place in public at 9.30am on Thursday, 5 July at West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA.

In order to ask a question at the meeting you must submit it in advance. If you wish to ask a question or raise a matter at the 5 July meeting you must submit your enquiry by no later than 5pm on Monday 2 July.

Please send your enquiry by email to Alternatively, you can send your enquiry by post to NHS Vale of York CCG, West Offices, Station Rise, York, Y01 6GA.

Please note that you will not be able to ask a question at the meeting if you do not submit your question before the deadline.

The agenda and papers for the Governing Body meeting will be published online by 5pm on Thursday 28 June at

CCG publishes 2017-18 annual report and accounts

The NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) 2017-18 annual report and financial accounts have been published.

This report is an overview of the CCG’s work between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. The CCG, like all other NHS organisations, is required to publish an annual report and financial accounts at the end of each financial year.

The report is made up of three parts: the first section contains details of the organisation’s performance during 2017-18; the second covers details of governance and risk; and the third is the financial accounts.

The report and accounts can be viewed on the CCG’s website here:

Phil Mettam, the CCG’s Accountable Officer, said: “The 2017-18 annual report and accounts demonstrate the stabilisation of the local system’s financial position during the year. The performance across many of the CCG targets also improved and stabilised in 2017-18.

“However the financial deficit remains and our work with partners to reduce cost inefficiencies, duplication and unnecessary variation are helping to ensure that the local system delivers our precious resources in ways so they drive improvement and help to achieve better value for money.”

Information contained in this report can be provided in other languages upon request. Please email the CCG – – if you require a translated passage or would like additional copies of the report.

Members of the public are invited to hear an overview of the local health and care system’s operational and financial performance during 2017-18 at the CCG’s 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The CCG’s AGM will take place between 2-3pm on Thursday 20 September 2018 at Priory Street Centre, York, YO1 6ET.

Vale of York GPs star in summer-themed self-care health videos

GPs from the Vale of York have appeared in front of the camera to help educate people about how to treat common summer-related illnesses and ailments.

GPs from Priory Medical Group and Haxby Group worked with NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to create a series of educational videos designed to help people self-treat conditions which are prevalent during the summer months.

These bite-size videos - which can be viewed at - explain how to treat common illnesses and ailments using over-the-counter remedies available at pharmacies.

The videos cover the following topics:

  • Hay fever
  • Worried about a mole?
  • Food poisoning and diarrhoea
  • Heat rash
  • Ear infections
  • Asthma
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sunburn
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Athlete’s foot
  • What medicine should you take on holiday?
  • Actinic keratoses (solar keratosis)

Dr Emma Broughton, a GP and partner at Priory Medical Group, said: “Together with the CCG, the other GPs and I decided to create a range of self-care videos to help patients stay well during the summer months, when they tend to spend more time outside and therefore are at greater risk of suffering from conditions such as hay fever, sunburn and insect bites.

“The videos contain the advice your GP would provide during a face-to-face consultation, so by following the advice in these videos you could well save yourself a trip to see your GP when you’re unwell.

“Of course you should make an appointment to see your GP if you have an illness or injury that won’t go away. Please call NHS 111 or visit if you have a condition that needs treatment quickly, or seek emergency treatment if you have a serious or life-threatening illness or injury.”

The videos are also available on the CCG’s YouTube channel:

Vale of York residents invited to sign giant NHS 70th birthday card

Vale of York residents are being invited to write goodwill messages or sign their names in a giant birthday card as part of celebrations to mark 70 years of the NHS.

The NHS, one of Britain’s most treasured institutions, turns 70 on 5 July and the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has created a 4ft high birthday card to mark the occasion.

In the weeks leading up to the 70th birthday, the birthday card will be touring all four corners of the Vale of York so people can sign their names or write their messages to express what the NHS means to them and their families.

The card’s first public appearance takes place today (Friday 1 June) in Parliament Street in York city centre between 9.30am and 1pm, before moving on to Acomb (Front Street) between 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

The card is scheduled to visit Easingwold (15 June) and Selby (18 June), before rounding off its journey across the Vale of York at the CCG’s 1940s-themed NHS70 birthday party at West Offices in York city centre on 5 July.

The card will visit several other locations across the city and the Vale of York during June.

Members of the public are also invited to sign pledge cards to do something positive to improve their health and wellbeing. The pledges can be as broad or as specific as you like.

Dr Nigel Wells, Vale of York CCG’s Clinical Chair, said: “The CCG has lots of events planned to celebrate 70 years of the NHS – both in the run-up to the birthday and on the day itself – and it would be great if we can get as many people from the Vale of York involved as possible.

“So if you see the 4ft birthday card when you’re out and about feel free to sign your name or write a message to convey what the NHS means to you. The card is touring many parts of the Vale of York so there’s plenty of opportunities to write your messages.”

For more details of the card’s tour across the Vale of York, and for more information about the CCG’s NHS70 celebrations, visit:

Vale of York CCG hosts NHS70 community bus tour

A healthcare-themed bus will be touring communities in the Vale of York in June as part of local celebrations to mark 70 years of the NHS.

The NHS turns 70 on July 5 and to celebrate the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and its partners want to engage with the local community about their health and wellbeing.

The double-decker bus will visit various sites in York, Selby and Easingwold in the coming weeks, and members of the public are being invited to come along to receive healthcare advice, learn more about health check-ups or just to chat.

The bus will be at the following venues:

  • York - 1 June (9.30am to 1pm) at Parliament St and (2.30pm to 3.30pm) in Acomb Front Street
  • Easingwold - 15 June (10am to 12pm) in the town centre
  • York Monks Cross - 15 June (1.30pm to 3pm)
  • Selby - 18 June (10am to 2pm) in Selby town centre

Staff from the Vale of York CCG; City of York Council’s YorWellbeing service; North Yorkshire County Council; Healthwatch, York CVS; and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), which runs mental health services on behalf of the CCG, will be on hand to talk to the public about a number of healthcare topics affecting the local community.

The main topics include:

  • How to keep you and your community healthy and well and safe (health checks, diet, exercise etc)
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Tackling isolation and loneliness

Members of the public who attend these events will also have the opportunity sign a human-sized birthday card which the CCG created to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

The card will be available to sign at these community bus tour events, as well as other events being held in June and July.

Dr Nigel Wells, the CCG’s Clinical Chair, said: “The CCG holds a lot of public engagement events throughout the year, and this summer is no different, with our community bus tour to celebrate 70 years of the NHS visiting various locations across the Vale of York area.

“Members of the public are encouraged to come down and receive healthcare advice, learn more about health check-ups, or simply to have a chat. These events are a great opportunity to engage with the public about a range of topics so we hope to see lots of you there.”

Please note that details of the bus tour are subject to change. For more information about the CCG’s NHS70 celebrations, visit:

New Vale of York Healthy Hearts programme launched

A new campaign to help improve heart health among Vale of York residents has been launched.

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has launched Healthy Hearts to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack among people considered to be most at risk.

Healthy Hearts also aims to reduce the number of people dying prematurely from heart disease or other circulatory disease.

The ambitious project, which aims to reduce the number of people who die from cardiovascular disease by at least 10% in the next five years, focuses on three main areas:

Reducing cholesterol – By ensuring patients are on the most effective statin to lower blood cholesterol levels, which helps to reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Detecting high blood pressure (hypertension) – High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes if untreated, so it’s particularly important to detect those who don’t know they have it. Patients already identified with high blood pressure will be treated with the most effective medication available.

Atrial fibrillation and heart failure – Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. Better treating patients with atrial fibrillation will help to reduce the number of strokes.

The CCG has also launched a new website – – which contains a wealth of information about the Healthy Hearts programme.

More than 46,000 people in the Vale of York CCG area are affected by high blood pressure, yet around 1 in 10 (34,000 people) have undiagnosed high blood pressure, 7,000 people have an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) and more than 6,000 people have experienced a stroke or mini-stroke.

More than a quarter (26%) of all deaths in England in 2017 were caused by cardiovascular diseases (CVD), with coronary heart disease and stroke accounting for the majority of those deaths.

In the Vale of York CCG area, circulatory disease is one of the main causes of death with more than 880 deaths each year.

According to analysis by NHS RightCare, there may be more people dying prematurely in the Vale of York from CVD-related conditions compared to other similar areas of the country, which is why one of the CCG’s main priorities is to reduce the number of deaths caused by heart attack and stroke.

Dr Shaun O’Connell, CCG GP Lead for Acute Service Transformation and a local GP, said: “The Vale of York CCG is committed to improving the healthcare of patients who have cardiovascular disease, or are at risk of developing it, because it remains one of the biggest health challenges in our area.

“This is why we’ve launched the Healthy Hearts programme, which will see local GPs, nurses, hospital specialists and pharmacists work together to reduce cases of heart attack and stroke in the Vale of York.

“This ambitious programme aims to reduce the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease by 10% in our region over the next five years by focusing on reducing cases of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

“There are also many things you can do yourself to improve your cardiovascular health, and our Healthy Hearts website is full of resources to help you reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.”

For more information, visit

Use your local pharmacy for minor illnesses during the bank holiday weekend

Residents in the Vale of York are being encouraged to use their local pharmacy if they need help with minor illnesses or ailments during the bank holiday weekend.

With GP practices not open on bank holiday Monday (28 May), those who require help with minor, non-life threatening health concerns should seek help at their nearest open pharmacy.

Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who can provide many of the same services that GPs do, but on a walk-in basis, meaning you don’t need to book an appointment to see them.

They can offer treatments and free advice on common illnesses and ailments, such as colds, flu, coughs, sore throats, upset stomachs, ear infections, back pain, minor rashes and many more.

They can also answer questions you might have about any medication you’re taking and, if they can't help, they'll let you know whether or not you need to see a doctor or where else you could get the most appropriate treatment.

While pharmacists can help with minor conditions, you should call free 24hr NHS non-emergency number 111 if you have an illness or injury that needs treatment quickly but is not life-threatening. You can now access NHS 111 services on your smartphone by downloading the NHS 111 app (call 111 for instructions on how to do this).

If you have a medical emergency, such as breathing difficulties, chest pains or if you’ve been in a serious accident, call 999 for an ambulance or go to the nearest emergency department, which in the Vale of York is located at York Hospital.

Dr Kevin Smith, Executive Director of Primary Care and Population Health, said: “Every pharmacist is trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice, so they are the right person to see for minor health concerns. Using a pharmacy for minor health concerns helps to free up other NHS services, such as A&E departments, so staff there are free to treat real emergencies.

“You should use the NHS 111 helpline service if you urgently need medical help or advice when it is not a life-threatening situation, or call 999 if you have a medical emergency, such as breathing difficulties, chest pains or if you’ve been in a serious accident.”

Below is a comprehensive timetable showing which Vale of York pharmacies (in York and Selby) are open on bank holiday Monday.