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As we regularly receive NHS news bulletins for SE Essex, as from the beginning of 2017, for easier access, we will be putting all news items on two or three pages, the latest added item at the top of the first page, instead of creating separate pages for each news item. Simply scroll down to see the latter items

Make sure you’re protected against flu – get your jab now

The NHS in south east Essex is reminding people to be on the lookout for invitations to get their flu jab if they’re in the ‘at-risk’ groups.

The invitation letters, from our local GPs, are being sent to adults aged over 65; those with long-term health conditions such as severe asthma or heart disease; carers; pregnant women; children aged two to eight and other at-risk groups.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people see their GP with flu-like symptoms and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu. In south east Essex 115,000 in at-risk groups are eligible for a free flu vaccination. Last year only 57% of the eligible individuals went for their vaccination.

Symptoms of flu can be very unpleasant, last for several weeks and lead to more serious complications like pneumonia or bronchitis for those with underlying health conditions, and in some cases it can even lead to death.

Tricia D’Orsi, Chief Nurse for NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Flu is a highly contagious illness, which can spread rapidly through local communities. It can cause serious complications for at-risk groups, including pregnant women, the elderly and people with long-term health conditions.

“If you are eligible for the free flu vaccination, make sure you act on your letter from your GP and get the jab – please don’t ignore it. Having a flu jab will protect you and others. Contact your GP practice if you believe you are eligible for the jab but haven’t received an invite.”

Although it’s not possible to know which strains of flu will circulate each winter, the flu vaccination is still the best protection against an unpredictable virus, which can cause severe illness and deaths amongst vulnerable groups.

In some instances, our GP practices may text you instead of sending a letter.

For more information visit

Talk to us about Advance Care Planning for end of life

Healthwatch Essex – the independent charity that listens to and represents the voice of users of health and social care in Essex – is planning a study on Advance Care Planning (ACP) for end of life in Essex and we would like to hear from you about your experiences and views.

“We’re really keen to get the views of people who understand what differences can be achieved by thinking ahead and making plans around end of life care,” explained Dr David Sollis, Engagement Manager at Healthwatch Essex, who takes over the post of Chief Executive in a fortnight’s time.

“It’s tough for any of us to face the prospect of death, but for those who have limited time it can be really beneficial to talk through the process and make plans for what are likely to be some inevitable and difficult decisions ahead.”

We know that planning ahead can improve the end of life experience for people and that they are more likely to receive the treatment and care of their choice.

However, engaging in the planning process can be awkward for recipients of care, their families and health care professionals adding up to the fact that participation in ACP is poor.

Have you had experience of advance care planning for end of life as a patient, a family member or as a healthcare professional? Or are you interested in finding out more about what ACP may involve? Then please do join us for an informal meeting so that we can include your perspectives in our plans.

We will be holding a focus group meeting on Thursday July 27th between 5.30pm and 7pm at our Healthwatch Essex offices – RCCE House, Threshelfords Business Park, Inworth Road, Feering, Essex, CO5 9SE.

Refreshments will be provided and reasonable travel expenses can be refunded.

R.S.V.P. Oonagh Corrigan at Healthwatch Essex on

Tips to stay cool as temperatures are set to rise!

With temperatures expected to reach 28 degrees over the next two weeks in the Rochford area, Public Health England have issued ‘take care’ warnings to the public.

To ensure our residents stay safe and enjoy the sun we have some top tips for when the heat arrives:

look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions

drink plenty of water; sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated

close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors

open windows when it feels cooler outside and it’s safe to do so

never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals

try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm

walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat, if you have to go out in the heat

avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day

wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Community, Cllr Mike Webb said : “Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it's too hot for too long it can effect your health. Being fair haired myself I have always had to be careful with my sun exposure to make sure I don’t get sunburnt.

“There are many simple things residents can do to keep their homes and sleeping areas cool at night remember to close curtains on windows that face the sun during the day, once the sun is off windows open them up to get a breeze and think about turning off electrical devices all over the home as they can generate unwanted heat too.”

Think before going to A&E this summer

It is estimated know that around 11 per cent of people who attend A&E are sent home requiring no treatment.  A further 38 per cent receive guidance or advice only* for minor conditions such as coughs, colds, muscular pain or allergies, which co​uld be managed safely and effectively at home or with advice from a pharmacist.

Locally, around 300 people a day attend A&E at Southend Hospital. With the summer holiday season upon us it is important to remember the choice of places open should you need help because you are unwell or injured.

Dr Roger Gardiner, local GP and unplanned care clinical lead for NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “During the summer months visitors flock to this area to enjoy the seaside. To ensure that everyone can access the NHS services they need we want to encourage everyone to stop and think before going to A&E.

“A&E is there for life-threatening emergencies such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If it is not a serious medical emergency, A&E is not the right choice.”

Yvonne Blücher, Managing Director at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “People attending A&E who could obtain care elsewhere put undue pressure on both the department and the hospital as a whole. On many occasions it would have been better for the patient and the hospital if they sought treatment from a more appropriate service.

“We want our staff to be able to concentrate on those patients who really need their specialist expertise.”

Gary Baines, an Essex area manager for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “People should use 999 only for the life-threatening and serious emergencies such as cardiac arrest, suspect stroke, suspected heart attack, and so on. The NHS 111 is the alternative for people to use when they have a genuine problem but it isn’t serious – people don’t realise this but it can provide help and advice and out of hours GP appointments. If you arrive at A&E by ambulance you will still have to wait unless your condition is urgent. Make use of the great support out there from 111, GPs and pharmacists; they will get you the help you need and save you time.”

Stay well this summer

GPs in south east Essex are encouraging people to take care as temperatures rise over the summer and reminding them of the most appropriate places to go for treatment if they do become ill.

Summer conditions such as sunburn and dehydration can be easily prevented and treatment is available in south east Essex from health services that may be closer than you think.

Dr José Garcia Lobera, local GP and Chairman at NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group said, the vast majority of people suffering from sunburn, hayfever or dehydration could treat themselves at home or with help from their local pharmacy.  

"Many people forget or don’t realise that their local pharmacists are trained to give advice on how to help manage illnesses, as well as guidance on the best treatments."  

"As summer starts it's important to remember that A&E is for serious emergencies and accidents only and that health services that can better meet your needs may be a lot more accessible, such as your local pharmacist, GP services or by calling NHS 111.  The 111 service ensures callers are put through to highly trained call handlers, supported by experienced nurses or paramedics.   Callers are clinically assessed and either given appropriate advice or referred directly to the most appropriate service which can deal with their injury or illness. This may range from dentist, pharmacy, community service to out-of-hours GP, or in some cases an ambulance.

"Hospital A&E departments are very busy places all year round, including summer, with their staff dealing with life threatening emergencies, like strokes and heart attacks.'

"If you become ill over the summer it is important to think about which local health service is right for you, rather than just going straight to A&E.

Most of the time, you can avoid feeling uncomfortable or unwell altogether by making sure you are prepared for the hot weather.

Stay hydrated – carry a bottle of water with you, especially if you're heading out for the day or making a long journey. 

It's also a good idea to wear cool clothing and stay out of the sun between 11am to 3pm to make sure you keep safe this summer. Don't forget suncream and a hat and make sure children are protected too.

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