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Public urged to help prevent spread of norovirus

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group is calling on Vale of York residents to help prevent the spread of norovirus during winter.

Norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, is commonly referred to as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ because it can be more prevalent during winter - but outbreaks can occur at any time of the year.

It spreads very easily in public places such as hospitals, GP surgeries, nursing homes and schools – and is usually brought into these places by visitors once it becomes prevalent in the community.

People are therefore being asked to help prevent the spread of norovirus by:

  • Staying away from hospitals and other healthcare facilities if you or someone you live with (or are in close proximity to) has vomited or had diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.
     
  • Staying at home until you or the person you live with (or are in close proximity to) have been free of these symptoms for 48 hours.
     
  • Washing hands with soap and water (not alcohol-based gels) frequently, especially before and after visiting hospital, a GP surgery or other healthcare facilities.

This video, featuring Beverley Geary, Chief Nurse at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, explains more: https://youtu.be/No9tcbKu-6c

You don't normally need to see your GP if you have norovirus because there's no specific treatment for it – you simply have to let it run its course. Symptoms should normally clear within 24-48 hours.

Stay at home during this time but call, rather than visit, your GP or use the NHS 111 service if symptoms persist of if you’re concerned or need medical advice.

When you’re at home waiting for the symptoms to clear, make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Be sure to get plenty of rest and take paracetamol to ease fever or aches and pains.

Dr Kevin Smith, NHS Vale of York CCG Executive Director of Primary Care and Population Health, said: “Being ill is never a nice experience but the winter vomiting bug is particularly unpleasant. We can all help each other by staying away from public places when we are ill or have been in contact with someone who is suffering.

“Norovirus can disrupt hospital, GP and other healthcare services because it’s highly infectious and spreads easily so people are urged not to visit these places until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared.

“You can always call your GP, rather than visit them, or use the NHS 111 service if you do need medical advice.

“The best place to be if you do catch norovirus is at home getting lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids. It’s also important to practise good hygiene by regularly washing your hands with soap and water.”

For more information about how to stay well this winter, visit www.valeofyorkccg.nhs.uk/winter

Vale of York GP provides top tips for staying well in winter

Vale of York GP provides top tips for staying well in winter

People in the Vale of York are being urged to keep warm and well during winter as the region gets ready for the arrival of the cold weather – and a local GP has provided some top tips to help everyone do so.

There are a number steps you can take to help protect yourself against the cold weather. With that in mind, Dr Nigel Wells, NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Chair and a local GP, has provided his tips to help you stay well this winter.

Get your free flu vaccination

Flu is easy to catch but even easier to prevent. The annual flu vaccine is the best protection against flu so if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine book an appointment now.

You are eligible for a free flu jab if you are:

  • Pregnant
  • Aged 65 and over
  • Have a long-term health condition (COPD; bronchitis, emphysema; diabetes; heart and kidney disease, or those who have suffered a stroke)
  • A child aged two to nine (pre-school, and reception class to year five)
  • A carer

Contact your GP practice, local community pharmacy or midwife to arrange a flu vaccination.

Why wait to see your doctor? You may not need to…

When you’re not very well, you just want to get help as soon as possible. But it may not be necessary to see your GP and it could be more appropriate and quicker for you to see other health professionals, such as a practice nurse, counsellor, physiotherapist or pharmacist.

Click here for more information.

Consult your pharmacist at the first sign of illness

At the first sign of a cough or a cold get help from your pharmacist before it gets more serious. Pharmacists can provide many of the same services that GPs do, but you don’t need to book an appointment to see them.

They can offer treatments and free advice on common illnesses and ailments including: colds and flu; coughs, sore throats and runny noses; upset stomachs; ear infections; diarrhoea; back pain and minor rashes.

Be self-care aware

You can self-treat many minor illnesses and injuries at home by resting and using over-the-counter medicines available at your local pharmacy. Most ailments will begin to get better within a couple of days.

The CCG has teamed up with a number of Vale of York GPs to create a series of self-care videos, to help you self-treat common illnesses such as cold and flu at home using over-the-counter medicines. These can be viewed here.

Use NHS 111 for urgent but non-life threatening conditions

NHS non-emergency number 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When you call 111 free of charge you will speak to a highly trained adviser who will direct you to the most appropriate medical care.

Vale of York residents can now access the NHS 111 service online as well as over the phone at www.111.nhs.uk if they need urgent healthcare or health advice.

Heat your home well

It’s important to keep warm during winter when indoors as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems.

Setting your heating to at least 18C (65F) will keep you warm at home but you might want your living room, or whichever room your spend most time in, to be slightly warmer.

Eat well and drink plenty of fluids

Try to eat at least one hot meal a day, drink plenty of water and hot drinks through the day. Food and water are vital sources of energy, and they help to keep your body warm.

Keep your medicine cabinet well stocked

Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with plenty of over-the-counter remedies to treat coughs and colds so that if you do catch something you do not have to venture out into the cold to get medicine.

If you’re on medication make sure you visit your local pharmacy in time to get repeat prescriptions to avoid running out.

Wrap up warm when outside

If you do need to go outsid be sure to wrap up warm, wearing plenty of layers rather than one chunky layer.

Don’t forget to wear a warm hat, scarf and gloves. Clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres help to maintain body heat.

Look out for others

Check up on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or respiratory problems, to make sure they're safe and well, warm enough  and have enough food and medicines.

Dr Nigel Wells said: “Prevention is key to staying well during winter so if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine you should book an appointment now. Getting a flu vaccine is one of the quickest, and most effective, things you can do to stay well this winter.

“At the first sign of a cough or a cold get help from your pharmacist before it gets more serious and speak to your pharmacist about medicines you should have in stock to help get you and your family through winter.

“GPs are here to help you get better but are often extremely busy during winter, when illnesses such as cold and flu are much more prevalent and therefore demand for services is significantly greater.”

Visit the CCG’s dedicated winter page at https://www.valeofyorkccg.nhs.uk/winter/ for more information.

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s Assurance Statement (Reference Number: 2015/13271)

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s Assurance Statement (Reference Number: 2015/13271) An independent investigation into the care and treatment of MS: Published 14 November 2018

NHS England’s commission of an independent investigation following a serious incident that led to the death of a patient in April 2015 has highlighted where improvements and learning were needed.

The CCG is satisfied that the commitment by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust to decrease the likelihood of recurrence provides assurance and the evidence were changes have been implemented and improvements have been made.

We are committed to ensuring that the Vale of York community can experience services that are safe and of a good quality and the CCG will continue to monitor the services it commissions for local patients.

The independent investigation report can be found on NHS England’s website: https://www.england.nhs.uk/north/our-work/publications/ind-invest-reports/

Vale of York residents invited to make self-care pledges for health exhibition

Vale of York residents are being invited to contribute self-care pledges to an evolving health exhibition in York during Self Care Week 2018 (12-18 November).

NHS Vale of Clinical Commissioning Group is hosting the exhibition, and wants members of the public to sign pledge cards detailing ways in which they can improve their health and wellbeing. These pledges will be added to the display as they are made.

The display - which will be hosted in the foyer at West Offices, Station Rise, throughout Self Care Week - will also feature information about how people can take steps to improve their own health and wellbeing, with leaflets, postcards and other educational material available.

Self Care Week is an annual campaign organised by the Self Care Forum to raise awareness about the benefits of self care and what people can do to take care of their own health. The theme of this year’s Self Care Week is: choose self care for life.

Dr Kevin Smith, NHS Vale of York CCG’s Executive Director of Primary Care and Population Health, said: “During Self Care Week we are inviting the residents of the Vale of York to make health-related pledges which will be displayed on our evolving self-care exhibition at West Offices throughout the week.

“Ways to embrace self care include being active, eating healthily and learning when you should self-treat common illnesses and injuries – many of which can be treated at home by resting and using over-the-counter medicines from your local pharmacy.

“Making little changes for the better now can have significant and long-lasting benefits to your health and wellbeing in years to come.”

For more information, visit www.valeofyorkccg.nhs.uk/your-health/self-care-week-2018/

Help keep antibiotics working – don’t use them when you don’t need them

Vale of York residents are being urged to follow advice from their doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional and only use antibiotics when they need to – otherwise they could be putting themselves and their family at risk.

Antibiotics are needed to treat serious bacterial infections but they are often used by people to treat conditions such as coughs, ear ache and sore throats, which will normally get better on their own.

Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside our bodies to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them.

As antibiotic resistance increases, common procedures such as hip replacements and caesarean sections could become life-threatening without antibiotics to protect against infections.

Cancer patients are also much more vulnerable if antibiotics don’t work; both cancer and chemotherapy treatment reduce the ability of the immune system to fight infections and antibiotics are critical to prevent and treat infections in these patients.

The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ campaign began on Tuesday (23 October) to remind people that using antibiotics when they don’t need to could put them and their family at risk.

When it comes to appropriate use of antibiotics, it’s important to always take your doctor, nurse of healthcare professional’s advice.

Dr Nigel Wells, a Vale of York GP and NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group Clinical Chair, said: “As a GP in the Vale of York I would like to remind people that antibiotics are not always needed so always listen your doctor’s advice on when and when not to take them.

“Antibiotic resistance is something we must tackle right now. It’s only natural to want something to help you feel better when you’re unwell but taking antibiotics when you don’t need to puts you and your family at risk of more severe or longer illness.”

For more information about antibiotics resistance, visit www.nhs.uk/antibiotics

Come along to NHS Vale of York CCG’s Governing Body November meeting

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group will hold its next Governing Body meeting in public on Thursday 1November in York.

The meeting will begin at 9.30am and takes place at West Offices, Station Rise, York Y01 6GA.

Members of the public are invited along to observe and hear about the work the CCG is doing to improve services, quality and the experience of patients in the local area.

The CCG’s Governing Body consists of local GPs and other healthcare professionals and is responsible for monitoring the performance and quality improvement of healthcare providers in the Vale of York area.

Governing Body meetings are one of the ways that patients and members of the public can get involved and have their say.

If you wish to ask a question or raise a matter at the 1 November meeting you must submit your enquiry by no later than 5pm on Monday 29 October.

Please send your enquiry by email to valeofyork.contactus@nhs.net

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.

Mythbusting: Separating flu fact from flu fiction

“It will give me flu”

“I’m pregnant so I can’t have it”

“I had it last year so I don’t need it again”

“It’s too late in the year to have it”

These are just a small number of misconceptions around the flu vaccine which convince some people who are eligible for a free vaccine not to have it.

These flu myths often spread faster than the virus itself so, with that in mind, we’ve put together this myth-busting article to separate flu fact from flu fiction so you can make an informed decision about whether to have the vaccine.

The annual flu vaccine is the best protection we have against flu so if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine you should book an appointment now.

Myth one: The flu vaccine will give me flu

This is probably the most common reason given for not having the flu vaccine but it is simply not true. The adult flu vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses, which means the vaccine can’t give you flu.

You might have a sore arm after having the flu jab, while some people experience a slight temperature and aching muscles for a few days afterwards. Other reactions can occur, but only in rare cases.

WATCH What you need to know: The 2018-19 flu vaccine explained video: https://youtu.be/v8cwlNwxbpw

Myth two: I had my flu vaccine last year so I’m already protected

You need to have a flu jab every year, as the viruses that cause flu can change every year. This is why new vaccines are created every year to protect against these new strains.

The vaccine you’re given usually provides protection for most strain of flu for that winter season only.

WATCH Flu vaccine guidance for people aged 65 and over video: https://youtu.be/XPfEICSkqYk

Myth three: I can’t have the flu vaccine because I’m pregnant

On the contrary, it is important to have the flu jab if you’re pregnant because it will protect you and your baby. The vaccine is safe to have at any stage of pregnancy.

Pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, if they get flu.

It could also cause your baby to be born prematurely or underweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.

WATCH Having the flu jab during pregnancy video https://youtu.be/y2yduWwJvGY

Myth four: I’ve had flu recently so I don’t need to be vaccinated

You need to have a flu jab even if you’ve already had flu this winter.

Flu is caused by several viruses and the immunity your body has naturally developed after having flu will only protect against one of these strains.

Also, what you were laid low by might not necessarily have been flu.

Myth five: Flu is just like having a heavy cold

While colds and flu share some similar symptoms (eg: blocked nose, sore throat, high temperature), make no mistake: a bad bout of flu is much worse than a cold.

Colds cause more nasal problems than flu, while fever, fatigue and muscle aches are more likely and more severe with flu. If you get complications caused by flu, you could become seriously ill and have to go to hospital.

Whereas cold symptoms normally develop over one or two days, flu symptoms come on suddenly and sometimes severely. 

Cold sufferers usually begin to feel better after a couple of days while it takes around a week to recover from flu, although sufferers might feel tired for much longer.

Myth six: Flu can be treated with antibiotics

Antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infections, but aren't effective in combatting viral infections like the flu. That said, a bacterial infection may occur as a result of having the flu, in which case you may be given antibiotics.

You can take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower your temperature and relieve aches.

Myth seven: Vitamin C can protect against flu

While vitamin C helps to keep cells healthy and maintain healthy skin and bones, it doesn’t protect against flu.

Myth eight: It’s too late to have the flu jab this year

It’s best to have the flu vaccination as soon as it’s available (normally October or November) but you can have it later in the winter. The adage ‘better late than never’ rings true here, but it’s better to be vaccinated as early as possible.

Also, it’s worth remembering that it may take 10 to 14 days for your immunity to build up fully after you have had the flu vaccine.

Myth nine: Children can’t have the flu vaccination

Flu can be very unpleasant for children but the good news is that they can have the flu vaccine – despite what you might have heard on the grapevine.

The nasal spray vaccine is free for children aged two or three, as well as children in reception class and years one to five. Children aged up to 17 with long-term health conditions are also eligible.

Myth 10: The flu vaccine won’t protect me against swine flu

This year’s flu vaccine protects against H1N1 swine flu virus, as well as two other flu viruses. It has been designed to protect against swine flu because public health experts expect it to be circulating this year.

A doctor’s view: Dr Kevin Smith, Executive Director of Primary Care and Population Health at the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Real flu is a horrible illness, even for the fittest people but it can be a really serious illness for some of us, particularly older people, pregnant women, young children and those with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Flu is easy to catch but even easier to prevent. The annual flu vaccine is the best protection we have against flu so if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine you should book an appointment now.

“There’s a misconception that you can catch flu from the vaccine but this is simply not true. Some people may have a sore arm, mild fever or aching muscles for a couple of days after they get the jab, but these are nothing compared to the misery and inconvenience of real flu.

“It only takes a few minutes to get protected with your annual flu vaccine. I’d encourage anyone with questions about the annual flu vaccine to ask their GP, local community pharmacist or midwife.”

Visit www.nhs.uk/flu for more information