Appeal to return unused community medical equipment

NRS Healthcare, which loans items of community medical equipment via Portsmouth City Council and the NHS, is asking people to help their neighbours by checking their homes for any equipment they have that is no longer needed.

Items loaned by NRS include:

  • walking sticks
  • crutches
  • chair raisers
  • commodes
  • trolleys

You will be able to identify items loaned by NRS as they will be stickered with a barcode.

Returned equipment will help support others to remain independent in their own home and can also help free up hospital beds for people waiting to go home.

All equipment returned will be assessed and safety-tested before being refurbished, repaired, reused or recycled.

If you, a friend, relative, or carer has equipment supplied by the council via NRS Healthcare, you can arrange a free collection by calling 0333 240 8334 on weekdays from 9am to 5pm or emailing enquiries@portsouth.nrs-uk.net.

Past and current smokers invited to get free lung health check

Past and current smokers in Portsmouth are being invited to a NHS lung health check in a drive to improve earlier diagnosis of lung cancer and save more lives.

With one of the highest mortality rates for lung cancer in England, Portsmouth is one of 43 places across the country which will run a Targeted Lung Health Check programme.

The initiative means more than 23,000 past and current smokers aged 55 to 74 in Portsmouth will be invited to a lung health check by their GP over the next 2 years. This will identify over 200 cases of lung cancer earlier than otherwise would have been.

People diagnosed with lung cancer at the earliest stage are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years than those whose cancer is caught late.

Over the next two years, invites will be sent out to all those eligible and registered with a GP surgery in Portsmouth. You will also be sent text reminders.

Lung health check invites will be sent out in yellow envelopes to those eligible, starting with the East Shore Practice and then moving onto surgeries in the Brunel Health Network, including Baffins, Milton Park, Southsea Medical Centre, Devonshire Avenue and the Uni-City Medical Centre.  The remaining practices in the city will then follow.

The lung health check takes place in two stages. The first is an initial phone assessment with a specially trained health care advisor. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they will be offered a health check with a nurse and a low dose CT scan of the lungs.

The CT scanner is at the Rodney Road Centre, Illustrious Drive, (off Rodney Road) Portsmouth.

To date this National initiative, which is part of the NHS Long Term Plan to diagnose cancers earlier has seen more than three quarters (77%) of cancers being caught at either Stage one or two, giving patients a much better chance of beating the illness. This compares to less than a third of cancers caught at either stage one or two in 2018.

Targeted Lung Health Check programme lead and respiratory consultant at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, Dr Ben Green said: “Getting a free NHS lung health check is really important and we would encourage all people between the age of 55 and 74 in Portsmouth, who have ever smoked, to take up the offer.”

“Lung cancer can have few symptoms in the early stages. This means that people often don’t seek medical help until tumours become more advanced.

“This programme is designed to check those most at risk of developing lung cancer in order to spot tumours early, enabling us to make the early diagnosis essential for getting curative treatment and improving survival from lung cancer.”

Chief Operating Officer at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, Chris Evans said: “It is fantastic to see the start of our Targeted Lung Health Check programme in Portsmouth and it is a key milestone in the national NHS Long Term Plan ambitions of catching more cancers at an earlier stage when they are easier to treat.”

Copnor GP and Clinical lead for the NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Linda Collie, said: “This is a good opportunity for those in Portsmouth who are eligible to be checked out at a convenient location in the community.

“We are aiming to get as many people as possible to take up the offer of a lung health check because it really can save lives.

“We know that some people had concerns seeking help during the pandemic but if you do have a worrying symptom now or have been coughing for three weeks or more, please do contact your GP and get checked out.”

The Targeted Lung Health Check programme estimates it will diagnose around 9,000 cancers earlier than would otherwise have been across England.  This offers the opportunity for earlier interventions, including curative surgery, which will save people’s lives. Stop smoking advice will also be offered to support current smokers as this is one of the biggest things people can do to reduce their chance of developing lung cancer.

For more information on the Targeted Lung Health Check programme please visit www.porthosp.nhs.uk/lunghealthcheck.htm

Do I have COVID, a common cold, or something else? How you can tell the difference between symptoms

Though the weather is getting warmer, colds, coughs, and viruses (including COVID-19) are still with us. Some of these illnesses can have very similar symptoms, so it may be hard to tell what you have and know how best to treat it.

If you have minor symptoms for any of these illnesses, these can usually be treated at home using over the counter medication. You can make sure you’re prepared by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet, including things such as paracetamol and aspirin, and equivalent syrups (such as Calpol) for children, cold and cough medicines, lozenges for sore throats, and a thermometer to check for fever.

If you do need medical help, please choose the right health service to get the care you need. Pharmacies are a great first option for many minor illnesses and injuries. A pharmacist can advise on the best treatment, without needing an appointment. Check how long your symptoms should last – if they’re not going away, contact your GP practice.

The most important factors in your recovery are making sure you are resting, staying warm, and keeping yourself hydrated.

Common cold

Cold symptoms come on gradually and can include a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, coughs, sneezing, a raised temperature, and pressure in your ears and face.

If you have a cold, your symptoms should develop over 1-2 days and you should begin to gradually feel better after a few days, though some colds can last for up to 2 weeks. To help relieve cold symptoms, get plenty of rest, keep warm and stay hydrated.

Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen can ease aches or lower a temperature, and decongestant sprays or tablets can help to relieve a blocked nose. These medicines are available to buy from supermarkets or pharmacies – a pharmacist will be able to advise you on the best medicine to treat your symptoms.

Sore throat

Sore throats are are usually caused by viruses (like cold or flu) or from smoking. They usually get better by themselves within a week.

If you have a sore throat, you may have a painful throat, especially when swallowing, a dry, scratchy throat, redness in the back of your mouth, or a mild cough.

To help relieve a sore throat, you can gargle with warm, salty water. You can also use paracetamol or ibuprofen, or medicated lozenges containing a local anaesthetic, antiseptic, or anti-inflammatory medicine, which are available to buy at supermarkets or pharmacies without needing a prescription.

Other factors that can also help with your sore throat include drinking plenty of water and eating cool or soft foods.

You do not normally need antibiotics to treat a sore throat. Contact your GP if your sore throat does not improve after a week, or if you are often getting sore throats.

Flu

It may be difficult to tell the difference between a cold and flu as some symptoms are similar. However, flu tends to be more severe, and the symptoms come on very quickly. Flu will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill.

The symptoms of flu include a sudden high temperature (of 38C or above), body aches, feeling tired or exhausted, a dry cough, a sore throat, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. You may also experience a loss of appetite, diarrhoea, tummy pain, or feeling sick and being sick.

To help your recovery, it’s important to get plenty of rest, keep warm, and stay hydrated. You can also take paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets to relieve aches and pains and lower your body temperature. A pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies. Be careful not to use flu remedies if you’re taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets, as it’s easy to take more than the recommended dose.

It’s important to get the flu vaccine if you’re advised to, as this will help to protect you from flu and its complications.

COVID-19

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a new continuous cough, a fever or high temperature, and a loss of or change to smell or taste.

A high temperature is 37.8C or above, which can occur if the body is fighting off an infection. If you don’t have a thermometer, you may be able to check by sensing if you feel hot to the touch on the chest or back.

Other COVID-19 symptoms, which are also common signs of other respiratory infections, include shortness of breath, feeling tired or exhausted, lack of energy, muscle aches or pains, headache that lasts longer than usual, a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, or a stuffy or runny nose. You may also experience a loss of appetite, diarrhoea, or feeling sick or being sick.

As with other mild respiratory illnesses, most people can treat COVID-19 at home. You can take paracetamol to relieve headaches and muscle aches and pains – but be aware that antibiotics won’t work against viral infections such as COVID-19. You should get plenty of rest, and drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated.

If you’re having trouble breathing, contact your GP, or use the NHS 111 coronavirus online service. If you’re very worried about sudden shortness of breath, call 999.

Diarrhoea and vomiting

Diarrhoea and vomiting are often caused by a stomach bug and should stop after a few days. In adults and children, diarrhoea usually stops within 5 to 7 days, and vomiting usually stops in 1 or 2 days.

If your or your child has diarrhoea or vomiting, you can usually treat these at home. This includes staying at home and getting plenty of rest and eating when you feel able to – you do not need to eat or avoid any specific foods. The most important thing is to avoid dehydration by drinking lots of fluids, such as water or squash – take small sips if you feel sick.

Both diarrhoea and vomiting can spread easily. To avoid spreading an infection, stay off work or school until you have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least 2 days. Make sure to wash your hands regularly and frequently clean shared surfaces, such as taps or door handles.

Choosing the right NHS service

If you are ill and need medical care, please choose the right health service for your needs to ensure that the NHS can help the greatest number of people.

If you’re not sure where to go, contact NHS 111 (online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111). An NHS 111 health adviser will assess you, provide support and help you access another service if needed.

Find out more about choosing the right health service.

Urgent plea to public in Hampshire and Isle of Wight amid “perfect storm” of NHS pressures and rocketing rates of COVID-19

Health leaders today issue an urgent plea to communities amid a “perfect storm” of rising pressure on services and rocketing COVID-19 rates.

It comes as demand on services and the volume of 999 calls continues to soar as teams continue to do all they can to ensure patient receive safe, high quality care. Latest figures show:

  • Almost every hospital bed across Hampshire and Isle of Wight is full
  • More than 650 people with COVID-19 are being cared for in hospitals across the area – more than 2.5 times higher than in early January during the peak of winter
  • More than 2,800 staff working for local NHS organisations are off sick – with almost half of sickness absences due to COVID-19

The NHS is always there for anyone who needs help, but these combined pressures mean it is crucial that more is done to help frontline teams working round-the-clock to continue to provide safe care to patients across Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

Due to significant and sustained pressures, health leaders are having to make some very difficult decisions to prioritise patients who are most in need of emergency care. This means that:

  • People arriving at the Emergency Department (ED) who don’t need emergency care will be redirected to other, more appropriate services to ensure patients experiencing life threatening emergencies or illness are cared for in a timely way
  • Patients will be discharged from hospital when they have received all of the acute care they need – even if they continue to test positive for COVID-19
  • Relatives and carers are asked to ensure their loved one can be discharged quickly to help free up beds for those who need them
  • They are also asked to support loved ones with their ongoing care needs in the short term, once they have been discharged from hospital

Other asks include:

  • staying in contact with the ward they are on so everyone is clear about and prepared for the expected date of discharge
  • supporting arrangements to provide suitable clothing and shoes for the person being discharged
  • helping with transporting patients home. If you can help take a relative, friend or neighbour home when they are ready to leave hospital it helps them get home more quickly

This action is being taken because people working in the NHS across the board in Hampshire and Isle of Wight – at GP surgeries, NHS 111, ED, mental health services, ambulance and community services – face greater pressures than at any point since the first peak of the pandemic.

Dr Derek Sandeman, Chief Medical Officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System, said: “People working across health and care in Hampshire and Isle of Wight continue to go above and beyond the call of duty to give their patients safe care.

“With staff sickness rates well above average, rising cases of COVID-19 and very high numbers of people needing treatment, we face a perfect storm – but there are some very specific ways in which people can help the frontline NHS and care teams.

“If you have a loved one who is in hospital, please help staff to help get them home quickly when they are well enough – even if they are still testing positive for COVID. That is enormously important to help us make beds available for those in greatest need.

“Our Emergency Departments are for those in greatest need – if you aren’t quite sure what help you need, please contact 111.nhs.uk to get the right help for you.”

Dr John Knighton, Medical Director at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, said: “As a result of the pressures we are facing across all our services and high levels of staff sickness, we have declared a critical incident to protect the provision of emergency services. Our immediate priority is to ensure there are beds available for our most seriously ill patients and that we and the ambulance service can respond to patients across our communities in an appropriate timeframe.

“We need our communities help to ensure patients ready for discharge are collected immediately, so that we can admit patients requiring our help. Do not come to the emergency department or call 999unless it is a life-threatening emergency. Think about where else you can get help such as an urgent treatment centre or visit 111.nhs.uk to be directed to the most suitable service for you. Our staff are working incredibly hard to keep our patients safe, so please do what you can to help them.”

More information on which service to use and when is available here. This includes mental health care and dentistry as well as urgent treatment centres.

If you need urgent care but it is not a life-threatening emergency, call 111 or visit 111 online and you will be directed to the right service for your needs.

Football club hosts advice and employment event for people with a learning disability

Adults and young people with a learning disability from across Portsmouth were invited to ‘Moving Forward’ last Thursday (17 March) an information and employment event at Portsmouth Football Club.

An estimated 250 adults, young people and their parents and carers, came along to visit a variety of stalls with information on opportunities and services available to them in the city.

40 organisations were on hand to offer advice and information about employment, health, independent living, community groups and moving from children’s to adult services.

The event was jointly hosted by Portsmouth City Council, Solent NHS Trust, Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, The Careers & Enterprise Company and the Portsmouth Learning Disability Partnership Board.

A prize-draw offered three lucky participants the chance to win a Sherlock Holmes graphic novel.

Attendees were hugely positive about the opportunity to meet organisations face-to-face after years of coronavirus restrictions where events like this haven’t been possible and find out about the many opportunities for people with a learning disability in Portsmouth.

“There was lots of information and super-friendly engaging stallholders”, said one attendee.

Councillor Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education, came along and said: “We are really proud of the opportunities for young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Portsmouth It was great to see such a good turn out and to be able to provide so many young people and their families the chance to find out about the opportunities open to them as they progress.”

Councillor Jason Fazackarley, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing & Social Care, said: “It’s great to see this invaluable event come back to face-to-face again after the pandemic. We’re so glad to have been able to offer the chance for adults and young people with a learning disability to find out about the services and opportunities available to help them thrive in our city.”

NHS offers top tips to get the best care, and support frontline teams

With frontline health and care teams facing significant pressures, NHS leaders are offering advice on how to get the best possible care – and to support hard-pressed staff.

It isn’t just Emergency Department teams who are under pressure from rising Covid infections and high demands for care and treatment – ambulance crews and call handlers, GP surgery staff, community teams and mental health workers are all facing significant demands.

Dr Ziad Hirmiz, GP and clinical director for south east Hampshire at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System, said: “We are very well aware that some people are having to wait longer than they would like to get care and treatment at the moment, and we completely understand that can be frustrating.

“All NHS services are really busy, but dedicated health and care teams continue to work incredibly hard to provide safe, high quality care and manage the impact of rising COVID-19 infections. As always, the NHS remains here for you when you need it.

“We are doing everything we can to support our brilliant frontline teams, at what it is a really challenging time for them. There are things that you can do which would really help and make a difference – please treat staff with kindness and respect, please help get relatives home promptly when they no longer need hospital care, and please help us to help you make good decisions about the help you might need if you are ill or injured.

“At a time when all services are incredibly busy, there are a number of ways that people can not only help themselves to get the care they need, but also really support the staff who are working flat out to help them.”

Nine ways to get the best care, and support NHS staff:

  1. Get vaccinated against COVID-19 – the best form of protection for you and your loved ones. More information is available here.
  2. The Emergency Department (ED) is for emergencies, not convenience
  3. Not sure what help you need? Contact 111 online and let the experts help you
  4. Urgent treatment centres are best for minor injuries
  5. Help patients get home when they’re ready to leave hospital – it’s better for them, and frees up beds for others
  6. Use the expert help available on every high street, at our network of pharmacies
  7. Your GP practice has online access and a range of expert help – a convenient option
  8. Look after yourself – being ready to care for yourself can be a great help, and there are some great tips
  9. Make use of online help – try nhs.uk for health and medicines advice, and www.what0-18.nhs.uk/ if you are concerned about an unwell child.

Support local children’s charity to raise funds and awareness about Down syndrome

Next week is Down Syndrome Awareness Week (21st – 27th March).  Portsmouth City Council is a long standing supporter of local children’s charity Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association and each year the charity runs a Social Media Awareness Campaign, which is supported by the local community and over 70 top celebrities to date.

For each new charity page ‘like’ and page ‘follow’ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, Warner Goodman solicitors will generously donate £1 to the charity.  In addition, this year they will also donate £1 for each post like / comment / share.  Please click on the charity’s social media links below for details.

Facebook

 Twitter 

 Instagram@portsmouthdsa

You can support the campaign by liking, sharing, retweeting and commenting throughout the week using the tags @PortsmouthDSA #PortsmouthDSA #WDSD2022   

Your support will make a very big difference and last year, with community support, the charity managed to reach a global audience.

Their hugely successful ‘Rock Your Socks’ Campaign encourages people to wear bright socks to raise awareness and celebrate diversity and inclusion.

Get involved by taking a clear photo of yourself or your pets rocking your socks and post on social media (or email to rachaerlross@portsmouthdsa.org) and please tag them @PortsmouthDSA #RaisingAwareness #InclusionMatters  #RockYourSocks #DownSyndrome. Let your imaginations run riot – there will be prizes for the best animal / comedy and general photos!

Join Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association by getting behind this year’s awareness theme: #InclusionMeans…when individuals with Down syndrome are included and given the opportunity to participate, the whole community benefits.

 

Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association logo

Learning disability event at Portsmouth Football Club

Adults and young people with a learning disability are invited to Moving Forward, an education and employment event at Portsmouth Football Club, Legends Lounge, on Thursday 17 March, from 9.30am to 4pm.

The free event will showcase services and employers across the city who support adults and young people with a learning disability.

Young people aged 14-24, along with their parents and carers, are invited to find out about opportunities available as they transition to adulthood. Information will be available on employability, health, independent living and community inclusion.

Adults, carers and professionals are invited to find out more about services in Portsmouth for people with a learning disability.

There’s no need to book, just drop in any time between 9.30am and 4pm – and find out about the many opportunities in Portsmouth for adults and young people with a learning disability.

For more information or to ask any questions about the event, please contact rachael.lebburn@solent.nhs.uk.

The event is a joint event hosted by Portsmouth City Council, Solent NHS Trust, Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, The Careers & Enterprise Company and the Portsmouth Learning Disability Partnership Board.

Moving Forward event flyer

One year of Kooth in Portsmouth

Last January, Kooth, the online counselling and emotional wellbeing service, was commissioned by Health and Care Portsmouth for children and young people in the city.

Kooth has enabled children and young people to access support more quickly which has been particularly important given the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing.

In its first year in Portsmouth, there have been almost 1,600 registrations for the service and over 7,500 logins. Anxiety or stress was top reason for young people accessing counselling, with self-harm and suicidal thoughts also top presenting issues.

Kooth provides a safe and anonymous space for those who might not feel confident in accessing traditional face-to-face services and is free for Portsmouth’s young people to access. Children and young people aged 11-18 can register themselves at www.kooth.com with no referral needed and no waiting list for accessing support.

The commissioning of Kooth is in line with Portsmouth’s 2020-2023 Social, Emotional and Mental Health Strategy for children and young people, which includes a focus on ensuring early help is available to support emotional wellbeing and mental health needs. By tackling problems early, this can help to prevent difficulties from escalating and requiring specialist mental health services.

The Health and Social Care Committee’s recent report on Children and young people’s mental health noted that “Particularly for children and young people who experience shame or stigma around their mental health, the guarantee of anonymity that some digital services offer can remove an important barrier to early intervention.”

Digital solutions are also a key part of Portsmouth’s Social, Emotional and Mental Health Strategy for children and young people and became especially important during the pandemic. Kooth is accessible via any device with internet and is available 24/7, with counselling available 12pm – 10pm Monday to Friday and 6pm – 10pm at weekends, all year round.

In addition to counselling, the site offers a range of self-help resources and wellbeing activities. Young people can join moderated forum discussions about a range of topics and use a daily journal to track their feelings and reflect on how they’re doing.

100% of Portsmouth users responding to a questionnaire on the site’s homepage have said they would recommend Kooth to a friend.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education at Portsmouth City Council, said: “I’m pleased that Kooth has become an integral component of our mental health support in Portsmouth and a valuable resource for young people over the last year.

“Nobody should feel embarrassed or ashamed if they’re struggling with their mental health – but we know that sometimes young people might find it daunting to tell someone they are struggling. With the ability to access support anonymously via Kooth, I hope this has helped young people to feel safe and confident in exploring their concerns and seeking professional help if needed.”

Dr. Lynne Green, Chief Clinical Officer at Kooth said: “We know from our research that children and young people’s mental health has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But although the conversation around mental health issues has never been higher, the barriers to access to mental health care still remain.

“Good emotional health is as important as our physical health, and it’s important that young people are able to access help as soon as they need it. Kooth offers a safe and confidential space for young people to get support for any issues they are struggling with without a referral, whilst allowing them to remain anonymous. We are delighted that Kooth has helped and will continue to support children and young people in Portsmouth”.

To further support early intervention, new guidance has recently been launched on the Portsmouth City Council website to help families and those working with children and young people to identify social, emotional and mental health issues. It also details when and where to get support from services such as Kooth. The guidance can be found at: www.portsmouth.gov.uk/SEMHguidance.

Portsmouth young people aspire for future careers in social care

A group of young people in Portsmouth have been inspired by seeing first-hand how social workers in the city can transform lives.

Each young person visited organisations across the city who support families during their time of need. They also met with different teams at Portsmouth City Council to understand what it takes to be a social worker.

The young people who took part in the activity all live in Portsmouth and are currently studying health and social care courses at the University of Portsmouth or Highbury College. They hope the experience will inspire others to consider a career in the profession. To do this, they shadowed a social worker for the day to experience what the role entails.

Councillor Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council said: “Social work is a hugely rewarding job and one that benefits everyone in our community.

“Work experience is a great way for someone to get a taste of something they’ve never done before. All those who took part have shown an interest in becoming social workers and are undertaking a training course in that very subject. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

Maria Black, shadowed a social worker during the experience. Maria said she had always wanted to learn more about the profession.

Maria said: “After completing a social care course at HSDC, I knew the profession was something that interested me. I’ve worked as a carer and in a hospital. This gave me the experience I needed to enrol on a social work degree at the University of Portsmouth.

“I’ve worked hard to get where I am and look forward to graduating in the future. Aspirations Week gave me real world experience in different areas of social work, enabling me to understand the rewards and challenges of the job.”

Wayne Wedge, who is in the final year of his social work degree said:When you become a social worker, you have to continually improve your practice by staying up to date through training. My degree in social work has given me what I need to begin that journey. Shadowing a social worker for the day has helped reaffirm where I am headed.

“During the experience, I learnt about the types of personal development opportunities that I could undertake to gain the skills and knowledge I need to support other people.”

Ousman Youssouf, who is enrolled on a health and care course at Highbury College said: “My qualification is a great starting point to learn more about the sector and the types of jobs that are available to me.  All are rewarding but social work is one that I knew least about. I learnt a lot about myself and what I wanted from a job in social care.

“The experience allowed me to speak with social workers who gave me useful advice about their own training and career development. It has given an idea of what I want to do in the future.”

Young people interested in becoming a social worker will now benefit from a new service set up by Portsmouth City Council. Stronger Futures provides useful resources and links to find local training providers.

For more information, visit www.strongerfutures.co.uk to learn how people can start a career in children’s social care.

Wayne Wedge, Ousman Youssouf, Maria Black and Cllr Suzy Horton

Wayne Wedge, Ousman Youssouf, Maria Black and Cllr Suzy Horton