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Health Commissioners make a ‘pledge’ and receive training to increase knowledge on LGBT+ communities

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is following the NHS Rainbow Badge initiative to educate staff on the health needs of LBGT+ communities and to ensure inclusivity when commissioning services.

In the 2018 Stonewall Survey it was reported that one in seven Lesbian, Gay, bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) people (14 per cent) avoid seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination from staff. This means that LGBT+ people can be reluctant to disclose their sexuality and/or gender identity to healthcare workers, which in turn can affect the quality of the care they receive.

By making a ‘pledge’ to be more inclusive, the CCG has considered how wearing the NHS Rainbow badge needs to increase awareness of the issues faced by LBGT+ communities and offer open, non-judgemental and inclusive care for all who identify as LGBT+.

Dr Nigel Wells, the CCG’s Clinical Chair said: “Research shows us that when accessing healthcare, LGBT+ people can face inequalities and that there are barriers to healthcare services for these communities.  By increasing our awareness and understanding of the issues LGBT+ people face in healthcare we can ensure we consider equality, diversity and inclusion when making commissioning decisions and we can promote this with our patient-facing partners.

“As a commissioner of healthcare it is our responsibility to ensure we provide a comprehensive health service, in-line with the NHS Constitution.”

Yorkshire MESMAC, Yorkshire’s largest LGBT+ sexual and mental health charity recently delivered a 3-hour training session to CCG staff in order to raise awareness regarding issues that LGBT+ people face.

The session covered how in general staff can be more supportive and inclusive of LGBT+ people, what issues LGBT+ people have in accessing healthcare, how to be more confident in working effectively with LGBT+ people, ensuring use of the right terminology and definitions, and increasing understanding with a view to over-coming barriers.

Rosie Ellingham, Training and Communication Coordinator, Yorkshire MESMAC said: “The Rainbow Badge initiative is a great way to be a visible ally to LGBT+ staff and patients in healthcare. The training Yorkshire MESMAC provided to the CCG discussed the history of the LGBT+ community, as well as addressing some of the problematic stereotypes LGBT+ people face, ensuring healthcare staff are aware of the issues the LGBT+ community face when accessing healthcare services. We hope that the training offered alongside the Rainbow Badge initiative will be beneficial for staff in patient facing roles, staff designing services and staff communicating health messages to the wider public.”

More information on the NHS Rainbow Badge can be found on the CCG website:

Special Delivery! New Maternity website launches in the Vale of York

A new website which serves as a comprehensive online guide to pregnancy, giving birth and beyond has been launched in the Vale of York

The Humber, Coast and Vale Local Maternity System has created to support people who are thinking about having children, who are already pregnant or who have recently had a baby.

The website has been designed to be a single point of information for people wishing to learn more about maternity services in Humber, Coast and Vale, so they are able to choose the most appropriate place to receive care based on their needs.

Among the interactive features on the website is a map which shows the hospitals, midwifery units and birth centres where you can give birth in Humber, Coast and Vale, and the different facilities they offer. The website also features a timeline which explains how your baby is growing and developing during the course of pregnancy.

The website also features lots of antenatal and postnatal information to help you and your family and friends, including advice on what you should do when you find out you are having a baby, what to expect during the various stages of pregnancy, advice on staying healthy while pregnant and signposting to the many different support services available in your local area.

The Humber, Coast and Vale Local Maternity System is a partnership of organisations, women and their families working together to deliver improvements in maternity services in  Hull and East Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire, Vale of York and Scarborough and Ryedale.

The vision for maternity services in England, as outlined in the Better Births report in 2016, is for them to become safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family friendly; where every woman has access to information to enable her to make decisions about her care; and where she and her baby can access support that is centred around their individual needs and circumstances.

Becky Case, Humber, Coast and Vale Local Maternity System Programme Lead, said: “Having a baby is a major life event and while it is usually an extremely joyful occasion, it can also be a time of great uncertainty, especially if you are having your first child.

“It’s perfectly normal to have loads of questions during this time and while your midwife and GP can answer any questions you might have, you can also find the information you are looking for on the newly launched website -  which is a comprehensive online guide to pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.”

Ruth Prentice, Independent Chair of the Humber, Coast and Vale Maternity Voices Partnership Group, said: “The Humber, Coast and Vale Local Maternity System website has been developed using feedback from those who provide and receive maternity care in the Humber, Coast and Vale area.

“Their collaboration has been invaluable to ensure that the website contains all the necessary information about local maternity services in one easy-to-access place and is therefore a useful resource for people living in our area.”

For more information, visit

York-based GP Surgeries Sign Up to National Green Pledge

The NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has commended the work of the Bishopthorpe and Copmanthorpe-based Old School Medical Practice Group, who have signed up to the national sustainability project ‘Green Impact for Health’ which focuses on cutting GP surgeries’ carbon emissions and becoming more environmentally friendly.

The ‘Green Impact for Health’ is run by the Royal College of General Practitioners and has been designed to help general practice reduce their environmental impact, for example by increasing plastic recycling, whilst also reducing their practice expenses.

The Old School Medical Practice Group run a green blog on their website (, which covers their journey towards improved sustainability and shares ideas about how our reliance on plastic can be reduced – such as only purchasing recyclable plastic spoons and syringes that accompany paracetamol products.

The Practice is due to receive a bronze award for their work in the spring, and are encouraging other GP practices across the Vale of York to sign up to the ‘Green Impact for Health’.

Dr Rumina Önaç, Project lead at the Old School Medical Practice Group said: “We embarked on this journey after realising the NHS's impact on the planet; it produces more carbon emissions than all of the planes leaving Heathrow airport. We have really enjoyed working out creative ways to maximise the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff whilst reducing our carbon footprint, and would encourage other practices across York to sign up to the ‘Green Impact for Health’ project to improve our corner of the world in this climate emergency."

Dr Andrew Lee, Executive Director of Primary Care at the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group said: “It is brilliant to see one of our GP partners making such good progress in improving their sustainability. We should all be doing more to reduce our impact on the environment, and I commend the Old School Medical Practice Group for being proactive in taking these important steps.”

More information about the ‘Green Impact for Health’ can be found here

When Should I Worry? Parent and carer guide to treating childhood illnesses

Having an ill child can be a very scary experience if you are a parent or carer, but understanding more about the illness can help you to feel more in control.

The ‘When Should I Worry?’ booklet is for parents and deals with common infections in children who are normally healthy. This invaluable source of information provides advice on how to care for:

  • Fever
  • Temperature fits
  • Cough / chesty cough
  • Common cold
  • Sore throat
  • Croup
  • Earache
  • Not eating / drinking

Dr Andrew Lee, a practising GP and the CCG’s Executive Director for Primary Care and Population Health said: “A child’s immune system is very powerful, and will clear up most common infections by itself following plenty of rest, fluids and Paracetamol and / or Ibuprofen.

“The ‘When should I worry?’ booklet is a fantastic resource and I urge parents of normally healthy children over the age of six months to pick up a copy and keep it as a handy reference tool.

The CCG is making copies of the leaflet available across the Vale of York in GP surgeries, pharmacies, libraries and community centres.  The leaflet is also available online at 

Digital technology paves the way for instant counselling and emotional wellbeing support to young people

Young people aged 11-18 in the Vale of York can now access Kooth, a website offering free online counselling and emotional wellbeing support.

Kooth gives young people instant access to emotional and wellbeing advice and support whenever and whenever they need it. It incorporates self-help articles and online tools such as a mood tracker, as well as professional online therapy and moderated peer-to-peer forums.

The Kooth service has been commissioned by the CCG’s local mental health provider Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) as part of its commitment to provide early mental health guidance and support through digital channels.

The service is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and provides a safe environment where young people can chat anonymously and in confidence with qualified counsellors, who are online from 12-noon until 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm until 10pm, 365 days a year.

Digital technology is a daily part of people’s lives now, especially for children and young people. They expect to be able to go online to get instant access to the help and support they need.

Denise Nightingale, the CCG’s Executive Director for Mental Health and Complex Care said: “I’m delighted that our mental health provider is offering this service to local young people.

“A great feature of the service is that they can register on Kooth without having to provide personal details such as their name or address, providing a safe and non-judgemental place for them to talk, connect and chat with others and know they are not alone.”

The Kooth service will complement TEWV’s existing care provision. The online counsellors are fully qualified and experienced and where necessary will signpost children and young people to wider support available, as well as having the ability, when information is provided to them, to refer them directly on to other services if they are needed.

The service is available online at

New group for parents gives a voice to maternity services in York

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is helping to facilitate The York and District Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP), a public forum to create conversations which will improve maternity services.

The partnership is made up of a group of women and their families, maternity commissioners and healthcare professionals who want to actively get involved by sharing their experiences, suggestions and ideas.

Through bi-monthly events and meetings, the MVP encourages more people and independent organisations to get involved and feedback what is great about maternity services, what needs to improve and to help shape the future of maternity care.

Paula Middlebrook, the newly appointed Deputy Chief Nurse at the Vale of York CCG said: “It is essential to hear the personal experiences of those who use maternity services in York so we can work with them collaboratively to co-design and improve services. The CCG take an active role in supporting the Maternity Voices Partnership to ensure conversations are fed back into the Vale of York maternity and mental health providers.”

The most recent MVP event was held at SPARK York, a community venue chosen because of its accessibility for parents who brought along their babies and children.

“It’s essential that locations for meetings and events create a suitable environment so people feel comfortable to share information and provide feedback.”

Emily Pickard, Lay Chair of the York and District MVP said: “Anyone who has recently used maternity services in the last two years is welcome to contribute and get involved in the MVP. We would like to see more people attending our meetings and events so they can share their experiences with us and meet other parents. It’s also a great opportunity to see what support is available to new mums and dads in York.”

Also present within the partnership are representatives from York University who are conducting perinatal research; Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) mental health support service; Breastfeeding organisation Treasure Chest and the maternity service provider York Hospital.

Freya Oliver, Head of Midwifery and Nursing - Family Health, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “It is extremely important as service providers for us to understand the needs of local women and families and work together to improve experiences.  We are delighted that York District MVP continues to proactively engage with local women and services to achieve this.  This will actively support local implementation of the national work towards Better Births.”

To sign up to receive the MVP newsletter and hear about upcoming events email: or alternatively visit the Facebook page @Yorkdistrictmvp


For a current project the CCG are carrying out a survey to find out more about smoking during pregnancy and the support that people may need to help quit during this time. If you would like to contribute a survey can be found at:

Keep infections at bay – health bosses call on patients with flu or norovirus to stay away from hospital

The NHS in York and North Yorkshire is calling on residents and communities for help to prevent the spread of winter infections.

An outbreak of influenza or norovirus in hospital could have serious consequences for patients who are already poorly and can lead to entire wards being shut down and quarantined, putting an additional strain on NHS resources at a time when they are most in demand.

With the number of cases of norovirus starting to rise in our communities – not uncommon at this time of year – health leaders from York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and clinical commissioning groups in York and North Yorkshire are appealing directly to people with symptoms of influenza or norovirus to act responsibly and stay away from GP surgeries, hospitals and other healthcare settings, where possible.

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Clinical Chair, Dr Nigel Wells, said: “When we have loved ones who are poorly and in hospital, it’s natural we want to be with them, even if we’re feeling under the weather ourselves.

“However, influenza and norovirus are particularly contagious and the risk of passing these infections on to the person you are visiting in hospital who may already be quite ill – as well as other sick people and hospital staff – is extremely high.

“When a flu or norovirus outbreak occurs, particularly in an environment like a hospital, it is difficult to contain and can lead to the closure of entire wards, putting a huge strain on local NHS resources at a time of year when they are most in demand.”

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Chief Nurse, Heather McNair, added: “Closing wards helps us to contain an outbreak, but it means beds become unavailable and pressure is created throughout the entire system. Visitors can help by staying away if they have the flu or diarrhoea and vomiting and for at least two days after their symptoms have stopped.”

Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages. Like the flu, it spreads rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes. It can be spread through contact with an infected person, by contact with contaminated surfaces or by consuming contaminated food or water.

Typical symptoms of a norovirus infection include the sudden onset of projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people also experience headaches, mild temperature and stomach cramps.

There is no treatment for norovirus but it is important people who have the winter vomiting bug keep hydrated to combat the loss of fluids. People with norovirus will recover in a day or two, but will remain infectious for up to three days after recovery.

Common symptoms of flu include a high temperature, fatigue, headache, general aches and pains and a dry, chesty cough. The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help lower a high temperature and relieve aches.

Anyone who thinks they may have flu or norovirus is advised not to visit a GP surgery, but to stay at home and call NHS 111 for advice if necessary.

There are simple steps people can take to reduce the risk of spreading norovirus:-

  • Thorough hand washing – wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry
  • Don’t prepare food while infected
  • Immediately clean and disinfect surfaces after episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Wash clothes and bed linen that may be contaminated thoroughly
  • Drink plenty of fluids – stay away from caffeine and pay particular attention to the young and elderly for signs of dehydration

To reduce the risk of spreading flu, people should regularly clean surfaces such as door handles, telephones and computer keyboards to get rid of germs (hand contact with infected surfaces is a common way for a virus to spread), use tissues to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing, put used tissues in the bin as soon as possible and wash hands regularly.

For more information please visit and


Patients in local CCG trial see reduction in A&E attendances by a third

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) working with York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is improving patient health and quality of life with Proactive Health Coaching, a telephone-based health management service.

The innovative AI-based nursing service from health technology company, Health Navigator, has been introduced across Vale of York to identify patients at risk of unplanned care attendances and admissions and coach them back to better health.

Evidence from a randomised controlled trial (RCT) in Vale of York undertaken by Health Navigator, has shown a 36% reduction in A&E attendances for those patients supported by health coaching compared to patients that had not received the intervention. On the strength of these local results the CCG, the first in the country to trial the approach, has already expanded the service to 1,800 patients.  Now more than 10 CCG’s across the country are following suit.

Delivered by registered nurses and healthcare professionals through weekly telephone coaching calls, the service is designed to support patients with complex conditions and empower them to take control of their health.

Dr Andrew Lee, the CCG’s Executive Director of Primary Care and Population Health said: “We know that nationally there is increasing demand for urgent and emergency care services. Some of this comes from patients with multiple and complex health conditions. Through Proactive Health Coaching, we have a tried and tested preventative strategy that simultaneously provides better care for these patients and reduces stress on A&E departments and wider health services.

 “Most importantly, we will help to support patients who receive this service to understand and manage their long-term conditions better which we’ve already seen can have a very positive impact on their quality of life.”

From the local RCT, it was found that 55% of patients recruited into the programme from York Hospital felt much more engaged with their care, whilst 84% of people reported an improved quality of life and having more confidence in managing their conditions.

Melanie Liley, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust is very supportive of this service and for those patients being supported it is a positive intervention to empower them to better manage their health conditions.”

The next phase will see Vale of York become the first CCG to extend this type of service into primary care to alleviate the increasing demand for GP appointments.

Joachim Werr, Health Navigator CEO, said: “Vale of York has invested in a service that, most importantly, supports patients to live healthier lives, but also has the potential for major system transformation and improvement.”

The project has been widely recognised in national digital press such as Practice Business, Digital Health and Clinical Services Journal.

For more information visit the CCG’s website: