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Issued by NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG, NHS Southend CCG,  October 2018

More GP appointments available at evenings and weekends

Local residents can now access more evening and weekend appointments with a GP, nurse or healthcare assistant. The new, improved service will see GP practices working together to offer patients appointments at more convenient times when they call their local practice.

Appointments are now available from 6:30pm - 8:00pm, Monday to Friday and from 9:00am - 3:00pm on the weekends and public holidays; however, opening hours will vary between the practices. 

To make an appointment, you can call your own GP practice during normal business hours.

These appointments are in addition to the usual GP surgery opening hours from 8am to 6.30pm.  It means that when patients contact their doctor they will be offered appointments at an accessible time and day at surgeries where appointments are available, which may not always be patient’s usual practice.

Dr Kashif Siddiqui, Clinical Chair of NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG, said: “We understand that people cannot always go to see their GP during standard working hours.   Appointments may not be at your usual practice, but if you talk to your GP practice receptionist, they can help you find the right service and at a time that works best for you where possible.”

Local residents will see a GP or healthcare professional who may or may not be from the practice they are registered with. The GP or other professional will have access to your medical record to ensure that you receive the best possible care and support.

People can also dial 111 if they need medical help but are not in a life-threatening situation. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is a great way to get the right medical advice at any time.

Patients with breathing difficulties to benefit from specialist app

(Aug 13 2018)

Patients living in Castle Point and Rochford and Southend will benefit from the roll out of a new health app called ‘myCOPD’ to support patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).   

This specialist app, developed by mymhealth, has been funded locally through the NHS England Technology Tariff with support from the Eastern Academic Health Network, and provides the most up to date advice on COPD and how to manage it well. It is currently the only app approved by the NHS on the new NHS App store, and allows patients to:

 Perfect their inhaler technique with inhaler videos  Get expert education on their condition  Complete online pulmonary rehabilitation in their own home

The app has been developed with clinicians and is offered to patients through respiratory nurse specialists in Southend Hospital or in the community; or as part of a pulmonary rehabilitation programme. One patient who has been using the app since June said: “I have found having access to this app very helpful, I can see it being a great tool for people who like me work full time.”

Tricia D’Orsi, Chief Nurse for NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG said: “We hope this will be a useful tool for some patients to support them in managing their COPD. There are thousands of patients with COPD across south east Essex, like all respiratory conditions, there are times when the condition gets worse or when it’s not so bad. This should help patients to spot the signs of a ‘flare up’ and be able to deal with it better.

Dr Sharon Hadley, lead GP for the project, said: “We know many patients struggle with inhaler technique and therefore the drugs never reach the right place to work effectively.  Helping people to self-manage a long term condition can have a big impact on their health & hopefully avoid distressing trips to hospital.”   

Lisa Ward, Lead Respiratory Nurse, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “This app is an excellent tool which will help our COPD patients to understand their condition and transform the way they use healthcare services.  The app has sections on rehabilitation, inhalers and how to use them correctly, and allows patients to upload reports on their lung function and symptoms so that they can monitor their COPD over time.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the app please go to or email   

NHS England Consultation about evidence-based interventions

(Aug 9 2018)

The local NHS is asking the public to take part in a NHS England consultation about plans to stop offering interventions that are not clinically effective.  This would mean that several treatments currently prescribed would not be routinely performed or only performed under specific circumstances.

The aims of the proposal to stop offering the below listed interventions are to increase patient safety, save professional time and avoid waste for patients and taxpayers whilst helping clinicians to keep up to date with evolving evidence based practice. 

The proposals are that the following interventions would not be routinely available/ commissioned by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) due to their clinical ineffectiveness.

 Snoring surgery (in the absence of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea)

 Dilatation and curettage for heavy menstrual bleeding in women

 Knee arthroscopy for patients with osteoarthritis

 Injections for nonspecific low back pain without sciatica

There are also recommendations that a further 13 interventions only be performed under specific circumstances where they have been proven to be clinically effective. These include breast reduction, removal of benign skin lesions, grommets for glue ear in children, tonsillectomy for recurrent tonsillitis and haemorrhoid surgery.

The consultation runs until Friday 28th September and is part of a joint programme – the Evidence Based Intervention Programme – between NHS England, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, NICE, NHS Clinical Commissioners and NHS Improvement’s GIRFT Programme.

For more information and to respond, please visit the NHS consultation website.

A red bag: a simple change - now packing a difference in Castle Point and Rochford

(July 4th 2018)

The red bag scheme or ‘hospital transfer pathway’ is a small change having a big impact by personalising hospital care for care home residents in south east Essex.

Initially launched in June 2018 across Southend care Homes, the red bag scheme has now been rolled out in care homes in Castle Point and Rochford.

This simple patient focused initiative will improve the ambulance service handover to the hospital and will also assist to reduce A&E assessment times for the patient.

When a care home resident becomes unwell and requires hospital care, care home staff will pack a red bag which will have been personalised for the individual and will consist of standardised paperwork about the residents’ health care needs, a list of their medication, along with personal items, such as glasses, hearing aids, toiletries and day-of-discharge clothes and all will be transported to the hospital with the patient.

Due to the complex and long-term nature of the health issues of many care home residents, there are often frequent and sometimes sudden admissions to hospital.  Admissions and discharges involve input from several health and care organisations and all depends on good, robust communication and having the relevant information present.

James Currell, Associate Director Operations at NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southend CCG, said: “This is a great example of how local health and social care services can work together in partnership to improve patient care.

“We know that it can be confusing and very stressful for care home residents when they need to be transferred to hospital, particularly in an emergency, but this simple patient centred initiative will enhance patients’ experiences by ensuring a smoother transfer in and out of hospital.

“We also welcome the positive impact it will have for patient safety by allowing health care professionals to immediately identify the patient as a care home resident. It provides us with the information we need to provide individualised care, which is particularly important for patients with memory problems or longer term dementia. The Red Bag also makes it simpler to keep track of the patients’ essential belongings and other items including personal information.”

As vital patient information will be in one place and this will travel with the patient, it will save time at each stage of the patient journey. 

Discharge information will also be put into the red bag so when patients return to their care home, staff can ensure any advice given can be followed up straight away, instead of waiting to hear from the GP.

Tricia D’Orsi, Chief Nurse at NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG and NHS Southend CCG, said:“We are all very excited about the launch of the red bag scheme, as it has already shown to improve the quality of care provided across the system to local care home residents.

It is a valuable step forward in improving care for local care home residents; putting the patients’ needs first, by enabling smoother transfers of care and therefore reducing any stress or anxiety for the patient which is a huge benefit.

There has been partnership working with local care homes, local authorities and the hospital to develop the scheme and we all look forward to the benefits it will bring to individuals and the health system.”

The scheme has proved so successful in some parts of our region that it’s been rolled out across the country with the help of a new quick guide published today.

The guide aims to provide care homes, trusts, CCGs and ambulance services with practical tips on how to implement the scheme.

A simple change, the scheme has shown to reduce hospital delays, help stop patients losing personal items and improve communication between care home and hospital staff.

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