Patient Alert - Asthma and Lung UK warning as pollen levels rise
Pollen levels are known to be rising and as such the Practice is keen to ensure our patients who suffer with hay fever and/or asthma are aware of peak pollen times and the importance of carrying their inhaler.
While some hay fever meds are in short supply, there are concerns that the upcoming dry warm weather could prove problematic.
With rising grass pollen levels - the most common hay fever trigger - on the increase between May and July and the forecast for the next few days warming we are raising the profile of advice from Asthma and Lung UK to take extra care.
Streaming, itchy eyes, sneezing, tiredness, a blocked nose and sometimes wheezing or breathing difficulties can all be symptoms of an allergic reaction to pollen as the body mounts a reaction to the foreign invader and releases a chemical called histamine.
Dr Chris Olukanni, GP Partner encourages patients with asthma to be actively aware and says: "When pollen levels are at their highest, those people with lung conditions like asthma can suffer serious symptoms and there is increased risk of a life-threatening attack which can leave people fighting for breath. This can be terrifying, but there are key things all those who suffer can do to look after themselves."
Using preventer inhalers as prescribed will help prevent symptoms such as wheezing and coughing before they start and we also advise people to carry their reliever inhalers every day, especially when they are out and about enjoying the sunshine in case pollen does cause a flare-up of symptoms. Reliever inhalers quickly relax the muscles in the airways and ease symptoms immediately.
Other helpful recommendations from Asthma and Lung UK, includes a suggestion to use a steroid nasal spray every day, together with non-drowsy antihistamine tablets to stop the allergic reaction.
Many sufferers claim rubbing Vaseline around your nostrils or across your cheek bones is the ultimate hack for hay fever. Designed to be the ultimate pollen catcher, dabbing it on your face can help create a balm barrier which traps the pollen before it's able to enter your system through the eyes or nose.
The method is also a popular one with parents trying to treat pollen allergies in children too young to take many medicines.
Reduce the risk of hay fever triggering an asthma attack
- Carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every day. You might also refer to this as your rescue inhaler. These quickly relax the muscles in your airways and ease your asthma or COPD symptoms on the spot, so it’s important to carry your reliever inhaler with you.
- Take any preventer or maintenance treatments every day, as prescribed. This will help prevent your lungs from reacting to pollen. In asthma, this is even more crucial, as asthma preventer inhalers contain a low dose of steroid, which dampens down the inflammation that can be set off by pollen and other triggers.
- Treat hay fever symptoms with antihistamine pills and sprays or a steroid nasal spray. There are lots of different medicine options for hay fever. Your pharmacist can help you decide what to try.
When to see your GP
If you have hay fever, it’s likely that it’s triggering your asthma or lung condition symptoms if you:
- feel wheezy
- feel breathless
- have a tight feeling in your chest
- are coughing more than usual
- have asthma and are needing to use your reliever inhaler (usually blue) three times a week or more
The Partners and Practice team urge you to make contact if symptoms worsen or where breathing is affected seek urgent medical assistance.
Kooth Service for Children and Young People - Free, safe and anonymous online counselling and support for young people.
Kooth is an online counselling and emotional wellbeing support service providing young people aged 11-26 years in Thurrock with a free, safe and secure means of accessing support from a professional team of qualified counsellors.
Kooth.com is a well-established, award winning online counselling agency and is accredited by The British Association of Psychotherapy and Counselling (BACP). Founded in 2001, they are leading pioneers of online counselling in the UK, having won a number of prestigious awards. It is a transformational lifeline that has successfully helped and continues to reach the very vulnerable, many of whom would never have access to face-to-face counselling.
Young people can access this service anonymously by signing onto the Kooth website. The Kooth service includes:
- Drop in chats with counsellors
- Booked 1:1 chats with a counsellor
- Themed message forums
- Secure web-based email
- Articles regarding mental health
Please visit www.xenzone.com/kooth for information about Kooth.
Need support for your Smear Test?
If you have experienced trauma or mental illness and find cervical screening (smear tests) difficult, Jo's Cervical Cancer trust has some great information, including this video on support you can get before and after your smear test.
The Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust free booklet may also help. It has been created with mental health service users and healthcare professionals to offer some extra support with the test, including tips for during the appointment and a checklist of things that may make the test hard for you to share with your nurse.
This booklet was developed by researchers at the University of West London and Surrey University, with support from Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.
Please click on the link below to download and view the booklet.
Support available for your cervical screening (smear test)
For more information, please visit the Jo's Trust Website by clicking the picture below -
Looking After Someone - Information And Support For Carers
Looking after Someone is a helpful guide for anyone caring for family or friends. The guide outlines your rights as a carer and gives an overview of the practical and financial support available.
The Carers UK Looking After Someone guide is divided into the following sections:
- Getting Help and Support
- Your Finances
- Your Work.
The guide includes:
- 'A Carer’s Guide': an illustrated introduction to the challenges of caring, from making difficult decisions to looking after your health and wellbeing.
- Benefits: an overview of which benefits you or the person you care for may be entitled to and information about how to get a benefits check.
Other financial help: including help with council tax, fuel costs, pensions and health costs.
- Practical help: including community care assessment, carer's assessment and direct payments.
- Technology: information about health and care technology that could make life easier for you and the person you care for.
- Your workplace: your rights at work, from flexible working and parental leave to protection from discrimination.
- Other help: how to find other help nationally and in your local community.
To download a copy of the guide please click on the picture below -
Healthy Heart Month - Supporting People with Learning Disabilities
Your College Health Practice team recognises that people with learning disabilities are more likely to be overweight (obese) than people in the general population.
Women with learning disabilities are even more likely to be obese. People who are obese are at much greater risk of health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and mobility difficulties.
The two main ways to reduce weight are diet and exercise. For most people, bringing their weight down to healthy levels involves both exercising more and eating healthier amounts of healthier foods as well as avoiding fattening foods and sugary drinks.
People with learning disabilities are less likely to do regular exercise and eat a balanced diet with enough fruit and vegetables.
Barriers to losing weight for people with learning disabilities
There are lots of reasons why it may be more difficult for people with learning disabilities to lose weight. Some people with learning disabilities don’t do exercise because they don’t know the benefits. It can take more time to cook a healthy meal than to have a ready meal. Lack of time and lack of support staff can make it difficult for people to eat healthy foods and to take exercise.
Some places like the gym and swimming pool can be difficult to get to, expensive, not easy to access and people don’t always feel welcome.
The Annual Health Check
During an Annual Health Check at the Surgery, the Nurse will help provide motivational and practical support and encourage the support worker/carer to help plan and cook more healthy meals and to be more active.
There are lots of easy-read resources on healthy eating and physical activity and a great video link below that follows real life stories of people living with LD who are similarly trying to make changes to lifestyles to help them live with a healthy heart.
The video above follows real life stories of people with learning disabilities who are trying to make changes to their lifestyles to help them live with a healthy heart.
In support of Healthy Heart Month please encourage the person you support to attend an annual health check. This is a good opportunity to think about weight management.
Let us know if you need any further information or support to book your check today....
Smear tests for people with a Learning Disability
Smear tests are happening, and you may get a letter inviting you to come to the Practice. We know you may find smear tests confusing or worrying, but you are not alone if you feel this way. If you want to ask questions about having a smear test, please discuss this with a Nurse at your College Health Surgery or alternatively there is a Free Helpline on 0808 802 8000. Other ways to get help can be found by visiting the Jo's Trust Support Page.
What is a smear test?
A smear test is a free health test. It is sometimes called cervical screening.
It makes sure your cervix is healthy.
Your cervix is inside your body at the top of your vagina. You cannot see it.
Video - What happens at a smear test?
The video above is about smear tests. It tells you what happens at a smear test and why it is important. Women with a learning disability are in the video and were involved in making it.
Who has a smear test?
All women between age 25 and 64 are asked if they want to have a smear test and you are invited:
- every 3 years between age 25 and 49
- every 5 years between age 50 and 64
Smear tests can help stop you getting cervical cancer. It is your choice whether to have a smear test. Having the right information can help you decide.
Please visit the Jo's Trust Website for more information by clicking the picture below -
End The Abuse Of Staff In GP Practices
Please watch this campaign video by the IGPM (Institute of General Practice Management) regarding ending the abuse of staff in GP practices.
In this video GP receptionists share the abuse they have experienced first hand.
All have been frontline key workers during the pandemic.
With the majority of GP Practice Staff (78%) facing threatening behaviour, racist or sexist abuse from patients, and 83% reporting having called the police for help, the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) launches a campaign to end all abuse towards general practice staff.
COVID-19 Vaccination Information
Please click on the image above to view our COVID-19 vaccination information page.
COVID-19 Vaccination Status For International Travel
When travelling abroad, you may be required to show your COVID-19 Vaccination Status.
Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status allows you to show others that you’ve had a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine when travelling abroad to some countries or territories. A full course is currently 2 doses of any approved vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccination status is available to people who live in England and are registered with a GP, or have an NHS number.
You can get your vaccination status in digital or paper format. Please note that the NHS appointment card from vaccination centres cannot be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
You can access your COVID-19 vaccination status via the following methods -
Through the NHS App
You can access your COVID-19 vaccination status through the free NHS App from 17 May. You can access the app through mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet. Proof of your COVID-19 vaccination status will be shown within the NHS App. We recommend that you register with the app before booking international travel.
By Calling 119
If you do not have access to a smartphone and know that the country you are travelling to requires COVID-19 vaccination status, you can call the NHS helpline on 119 (from 17 May) and ask for a letter to be posted to you. This must be at least 5 working days after you’ve completed your course of the vaccine. We expect the letter to take up to 5 working days to reach you.
The letter will be sent automatically to the address registered with your GP. The 119 call handler you speak to will not be able to see your address to check this with you. If you’ve recently moved house, make sure you’ve given your new address to your GP practice before calling 119.
DO NOT CONTACT YOUR GP SURGERY ABOUT YOUR COVID-19 VACCINATION STATUS. GPS CANNOT PROVIDE LETTERS SHOWING YOUR COVID-19 VACCINATION STATUS.
Please visit GOV.UK - Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status when travelling abroad for more information.
Register your New Born Baby And Sign Up To eRedBook
College Health is urging new parents to register newborn babies with a GP as soon as possible, so that they don’t miss out on vital health services.
It’s important that you register your baby as a new family member with your GP to access vital health services such as the GP infant 6-8-week check and the immunisation programme.
The process to register your newborn baby with your GP has been simplified during the COVID-19 Pandemic. You can now register your baby with your GP without registering the Baby's birth with the Registrar. This is usually a formal requirement and a process to be completed by six weeks of age for the baby. This process usually includes issuing a Birth certificate to prove the Birth Registration has been undertaken, normally a requirement to subsequently register your infant with your GP. However, during the Coronavirus pandemic, Birth registrations with the Registrar have been temporarily suspended.
You do not currently need a birth certificate to register your baby with the GP Practice; all you need to do is:
Call your GP practice and tell the receptionist that you wish to register your child with the GP, or
Contact your practice via online and follow the process.
Any information required to register the baby with your GP will be in your baby’s red book, so have it handy when making the call or online application for details required.
Why not register for a digital eRedbook online for easy access to your baby’s details. Details of the registration page are below.
eRedbook – Your Digital Redbook
The eRedbook is the UK’s digital personal child health record. The app gives you access to your child’s important health records and helps you track their healthy growth and development.
eRedbook is a parent-held personal child health record, beginning at birth that supports children through the healthy child programme and works to:
Please follow the link below to find out more and register for the service –
Register Your Type 1 Opt-out Preference
The data held in your GP medical records is shared with other healthcare professionals for the purposes of your individual care. It is also shared with other organisations to support health and care planning and research.
If you do not want your personally identifiable patient data to be shared outside of your GP practice for purposes except your own care, you can register an opt-out with your GP practice. This is known as a Type 1 Opt-out.
Follow the link below to download the Type 1 Opt-out Preference Form -
Type 1 Opt-out Preference Form
You can use this form to:
Register a Type 1 Opt-out, for yourself or for a dependent (if you are the parent or legal guardian of the patient) (to Opt-out)
Withdraw an existing Type 1 Opt-out, for yourself or a dependent (if you are the parent or legal guardian of the patient) if you have changed your preference (Opt-in)
This decision will not affect individual care and you can change your choice at any time, using this form. This form, once completed, should be sent to your GP practice by email or post.
More information about the National Data Opt-out is here:
Roadmap Out Of Lockdown for England (Spring 2021)
With lockdown restrictions easing across England and the UK, the Government have published a roadmap out of lockdown for England.
Please watch this video which explains the stages and steps of the roadmap out of lockdown for England.
The stages and steps of this roadmap can be viewed in the pictures below. Please click on each picture to view a larger version.
Social Distancing and Self Isolation Sick Notes
Social Distancing: What You Need To Do
To stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), please follow government guidance on social distancing. Information can be found by clicking on the link below -
Staying Alert And Safe Social Distancing
Self Isolation Sick Notes
If you have been told to self-isolate because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and you need a note for your employer, you can now generate your own sick note via the link below -
NHS.uk Self-Isolation And Treating Coronavirus Symptoms
To generate the Isolation note, scroll down the page and click “Get Isolation Note”.
This will take you to the NHS 111 page where patients will be asked to answer a few questions. On completion a reference number will be emailed to the patient which is the sick note.
COVID-19 Bereavement Line
St Luke's are currently running a dedicated bereavement line for people that have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
The line is available Monday to Thursday from 1300 – 1630 and the number is below:
0333 400 2358
For more information please click the link below:
St Luke's Hospice Covid Bereavement Support Line
We hope this will help in times of need.
Employer Letter Regarding The Issue Of Medical Certificates Related To The COVID-19 Pandemic
Please follow the link below to download a letter for your employer regarding medical certificates for absence from work related to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Employer Letter RE: Medical Certificates
Advice For Parents With A Child That Is Sick Or Injured
Please click the link below to view a poster with information for parents on what to do if a child becomes unwell.
COVID-19 Advice For Parents When Child Unwell Or Injured
COVID-19 Patient Q&A Document
Please find below a link to a document that answers some of the common questions relating to COVID-19 that have been asked by patients across the College Health Practices.
Patient Q&A Document
Rescue Medication (Rescue Pack) Hoax
There has been an unhelpful and misleading message being widely spread on social media advising people with respiratory conditions including asthma and COPD to seek “rescue medication” from their GP.
Please DO NOT ask your GP for ‘rescue medication’ if you don’t usually have standby medication for your respiratory condition. The original post was taken down. It was posted in good faith but is potentially dangerous and is certainly unhelpful.
British Lung Foundation’s response
“We’ve been made aware of some posts on social media saying that if you have a lung condition, your GP will issue a rescue pack of steroids and antibiotics.
If you're normally advised to have a rescue pack available to treat your lung condition then it's a good idea to check you have one. This is recommended for some with COPD to be used as part of a personalised plan. For people with asthma, we do not recommend these as standard.
If someone’s asthma is bad enough to consider steroids it is essential they are assessed by a health care professional. Even at this busy time for the NHS, getting early support for any problems with your lungs is critical to keep you well and out of hospital.”
Along similar lines, please do not stockpile inhalers. If you haven’t needed one for many years don’t ask for one now. We are seeing increasing supply issues due to over-ordering. Please be patient with your community pharmacist, they are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances.
Changes To The Way We Provide Care
As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the way that we offer medical care to our patients has changed as listed below -
- You will receive most of your care by voice and video calls.
- You may need to access services using apps and online via the practice website and email.
- Your prescriptions (where possible) will be sent electronically to your chosen pharmacist. You will not need to collect your prescription from the practice in most cases.
Please make sure that you:
- Check the practice website for updates on any changes.
- Do not attend the GP practice unless invited to do so.
- If you are invited to attend the GP Practice, please can you wear a face mask/covering. This is for your protection as well as the protection of the staff at the surgery.
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19 stay at home and follow the latest advice on nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Important Message About Coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you are experiencing cough, fever, shortness of breath, flu-like symptoms, or upper respiratory tract symptoms, or if you have been in contact with anyone else experiencing these symptoms in the past 14 days please stay in your home and phone to speak to a GP.
Do not attend the practice without phoning first. This is to reduce risk of spreading the coronavirus infection.
If you have travelled outside the UK in the past 14 days and you are worried about coronavirus and what you should do next, do not attend a GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy. Avoid contact with other people. Stay in your home and use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus Service.
Due to increased pressures at this time routine matters may take longer to deal with. We know you will understand this given the current public health emergency we are facing.
For more information on COVID-19 please visit the NHS.uk and the GOV.uk websites.