New resources launched for World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

The Public Health team in Portsmouth City Council has created two new leaflets ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September 2019. One offers advice on looking after your own mental health and the second provides guidance on supporting someone else with their mental health.

Getting people to take the same care of their mental health as they would their physical health is important in helping prevent people reaching crisis point. The leaflets will be available from places including libraries, community centres, housing offices, Family Hubs, pharmacies and GP surgeries. They’re also available online at

These new leaflets complement the crisis card, which was produced for World Suicide Prevention Day last year. The crisis card lists services that can support someone with issues that have been shown to be key contributors to suicide, for example debt, bereavement and substance misuse. The crisis cards are fold-out wallet sized guides that are available at venues across the city and can be found on

In addition, Public Health in partnership with the University of Portsmouth will be running free safeTALK suicide alertness training for employees from Portsmouth businesses. SafeTALK is a half-day session that prepares anyone 15 or older, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper. SafeTALK trained helpers can recognise the signs that someone might be having suicidal thoughts and can connect them with life-saving interventions. This training will take place on Monday 30 September, 1.30-4.00pm, at the University of Portsmouth. There are 20 spaces available. To find out more or to book a place please email

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said; “I’m pleased to be marking World Suicide Prevention Day with some new materials that should help people look after their own mental wellbeing and support others that might be struggling with poor mental health. It’s so important that we continue to encourage people to talk more openly about mental health and to seek help if they’re having difficulties. By doing this we can hopefully reduce the number of people who feel that ending their life is the only way to escape the pain that they’re feeling.”

CCG leads way with latest electronic prescription upgrade live in all GP practices

Portsmouth has become the first area in the country where GP prescriptions for all patients can be sent electronically.

NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been piloting the latest improvement to the Electronic Prescription Services (EPS) Phase 4.

This allows GP prescriptions for all patients to be sent using the more efficient digital system and not just those who have chosen a regular nominated dispenser.

EPS saves the NHS time and money by reducing the amount of paper processing required by GPs, pharmacists and the NHS Business Services Authority.

Portsmouth CCG is the first in the country to have 100 per cent of their GP practices able to use EPS. Once the NHS Digital system is rolled out across England, it is estimated it will save the NHS £130m a year.

Patients see little or no change to the process of being prescribed medicines by their GP, or how they request and collect them from their community pharmacy. Those without a nominated pharmacy still receive a paper copy of their prescription listing what has been prescribed, but this will also contain a barcode. Pharmacy staff will then scan the barcode to download their electronic prescription from the secure NHS database – the NHS Spine. Patients with a nominated pharmacy will still have their prescriptions sent electronically without needing a paper copy.

Simon Cooper, Director of Medicines Optimisation for the CCG, said: “Implementing EPS Phase 4 across the city has been a very straightforward process for us and we are already beginning to see the benefits.

“Moving from what was essentially a paper-driven process to an approach which is primarily digitally-focused means much greater efficiency for our GP practices and dispensing pharmacies in terms of time and accuracy, and this can only be positive for patients, too.

“It’s also helping to create a much more accurate picture for us in terms of assessing prescribing data, which we can now do more quickly and with a greater degree of confidence in the information we are reviewing.”

Richard Ashcroft, Programme Director for Medicines and Pharmacy at NHS Digital, said: “This is a major step forward for patients, GPs and pharmacists. Portsmouth CCG have worked hard to introduce EPS Phase 4 and we look forward to other areas of the country following their lead soon.

“Every single prescription that is sent electronically, rather than via paper, saves money for the NHS as less time and valuable resource is spent processing and storing the paper prescriptions.”

Benefits of EPS Phase 4

  • fewer paper prescriptions will result in a more efficient, faster and secure process, saving the NHS time and money
  • an electronic system means prescriptions can’t be lost and GPs don’t need to sign replacements
  • clinicians will be able to keep track of the progress and status of prescriptions using the EPS Prescription Tracker.

Hospital, NHS Solent Trust and PPCA  scripts can’t be sent by EPS.

A Safe Space on a night out in Portsmouth

Safe Space at the Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre is open every Friday and Saturday night, 10 pm to 3 am and on special days such as New Year’s Eve. This year the service will also run every night throughout Fresher’s Week, and will be open from the 13– 21 September 2019 (including the usual Friday and Saturday opening hours).

Safe Space provides an all-round health and wellbeing service as well as a safe place for anyone who is looking for a short respite on a night out and can help individuals contact friends and or family if they have any health or safety concerns.

Run by South Central Ambulance Service clinicians provide on-the-spot medical assistance to those who need it, to advice on subjects like sexual health, alcohol and drug use, or even personal safety. The Safe Space team can also signpost visitors to other services such as minor injuries units, out of hours GP services and mental health crisis teams.

Safe Space has proven to be a valuable asset and has had a real impact on the number of ambulance crews called to the busy town centre, in some cases for pavement side ‘see and treats’ that often don’t require a visit to the emergency department.

Over the years Safe Space has also built relationships with other agencies such as the Street Pastors, Hampshire Constabulary as well as the pubs and clubs who depend on the service. In 2018/19 alone there were 397 recorded visitors to Safe Space with some form of injury being recorded as the most common reason for being seen. The majority of people seen were in the 20-29 age bracket. Overall the service estimates to have saved 167 ambulance call outs to the City Centre during 2018/19.

Portsmouth’s Safe Space is one of many alcohol intoxication management services (AIMS) but has the ambition to break free from this label of that and do far more towards improving the health and wellbeing of all those visiting Portsmouth on a Friday and Saturday night who are in need of help or advice at a time when other avenues of care may not be available.

Bank holiday – which pharmacies will be open?

The August bank holiday weekend is nearly here which could spell three days of visiting family, having a go at some DIY or going out and about in the local area.

The NHS wants to remind people that a network of pharmacies will be open over the bank holiday weekend and can help you with any minor incident or illness.

In recent years the range of treatment and advice available at pharmacies has increased hugely.

They can help people cope with many common health concerns, provide advice and guidance on what over-the-counter medicines to use, as well as supplying prescribed medicines.

This year the August bank holiday falls on Monday 26 August – and the Victorious Festival takes place in the weekend running up to it.

The popular event pulls in thousands of people into Portsmouth and so for both residents and festival-goers it’s important to know where you can go for help quickly.

Dr Elizabeth Fellows, chair and clinical executive at Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “As well as the long weekend, we also have the Victorious Festival taking place during the last weekend in August.

“Whether you’re heading down to the festival or keeping busy with other plans, we want to ensure you stay safe and know where to go should you need healthcare help.

“There will be a medical tent at the festival and staff have been trained to provide emotional and mental health support.

“A raft of pharmacies will be open across the Portsmouth and south east Hampshire area, you can visit a walk-in centre or call NHS111.

“It’s also important you plan ahead and check your medicine supplies to ensure you have enough to last throughout the weekend and beyond.”

Bank holiday opening times for pharmacies in Portsmouth are now available here.

Homes for our key workers – we need your input

Work is underway across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to better understand the housing needs of workers in essential health and social care roles. We know that the availability of good quality, affordable housing is important, so please complete this survey if you are a health or social care specialist currently working, seeking work or studying in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The information gathered from the survey will be used to help health and social care providers in the area understand the need for different types of houses in the city.
The survey is being run by Hampshire and Isle of Wight STP. Anonymous results will be shared across health and social care organisations in the region. All data will be stored and processed in line with data protection legislation.

Complete the survey online here.

Care navigators help you find your way around the health system

All sixteen Portsmouth GP practices are introducing a new scheme which should help patients see the most appropriate healthcare professional faster.

Around 230 practice staff across the city, including a number of receptionists, have received external training to become care navigators.

They won’t offer you clinical advice – but will help signpost you to the most appropriate health service for your needs, as the GP isn’t always the best person to see or the route for getting the most appropriate care faster.

Dr Linda Collie, a Copnor GP who is the clinical lead for NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, which has paid for the staff training, said: “We know that it’s not always easy trying to navigate local health services to find out who is best placed to help you for a particular health problem or concern.

“Care navigators have access to a directory of information about services to point patients to the most appropriate source of help, advice and support.

“On many occasions, a GP might not be the most suitable person for the patient to speak to or see. Patients can often be seen much quicker by a nurse or physiotherapist for example. In some places, a GP practice may not even be the right place for an enquiry.

“The next time that you make an appointment at your practice, you may be asked some questions about the reason for your appointment.

“Don’t be offended by this – it’s simply so that the care navigator can ensure that you see the person best suited to help you. We want you to see the right person, first.

“You don’t have to do this. The care navigator is not being nosy, and will respect both your privacy and your right to say ‘no.’

“But the care navigators will play an important role in not only help you to access faster healthcare, but also ensuring that GPs can dedicate most of their time to those patients who most need their help.”

Further integration of NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group and Portsmouth City Council

Plans have been developed which propose new ways for the city’s council and NHS to work more closely together in future.

The plans set out options for further integration of the leadership of Portsmouth City Council and NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). This marks a continuation of a process of closer partnership which has involved senior joint appointments, and resulted in a range of positive changes such as targeted early health and social care support for children and families, a shared clinical record available to frontline NHS and social care staff, and integrated domiciliary care teams to help people return home after a hospital stay.

There are three key recommendations:

  • More decision-making to the Health and Care Portsmouth joint commissioning committee
  • Integrating the council and CCG approach to finance, including the creation of a joint role
  • Proposing future arrangements for the CCG’s accountable officer role.

In terms of the third point, the recommended course of action is that the CCG’s accountable officer functions are incorporated into the function of the Portsmouth City Council Chief Executive. The CCG will continue with its strong clinical leadership model, including clinical leadership for Health and Care Portsmouth and having a clinical chair for its governing board.

A paper containing these recommendations was considered by Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet on 9 July, and will go to the CCG’s Governing Board on 17 July. It will then be considered by the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board. If agreed by all three bodies, approval would then be sought from NHS England with regards the proposed changes to delivery of the CCG’s accountable officer role functions.

Dr Linda Collie, the CCG’s clinical leader and current accountable officer, said: “For many years now, our ambition has been to bring health and social care together, because we feel that would bring valuable, tangible benefits to people living in our city. Ultimately, our total focus must be on meeting the needs of people using services in Portsmouth, and the changes we have been making, and are now proposing, are designed to do just that.

“The CCG has always maintained a strong clinical voice at the heart of the decision-making process, and we believe these recommendations will continue that and enhance our effectiveness.”

David Williams, Chief Executive of Portsmouth City Council, said: “A huge amount has already been achieved through our integrated working with the NHS, and these recommendations are a natural progression in Portsmouth’s journey to truly integrated health and social care. We now have much closer working between the council and the CCG, and have positive relationships with the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. These proposals mark an important next step on that journey.

“Increasingly, NHS and council teams are working together under the Health and Care Portsmouth banner, and it feels right that we should now try to make sure that the leadership arrangements reflect that progress and Portsmouth has a clearer voice within the wider health system.”

Cllr Matthew Winnington, the council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care said: “This paper is a statement of intent – it sets out a clear vision for how the council and the CCG can continue to work together to deliver joined up services.

“Local authorities play a unique role in the lives of our residents. Bringing together the council and the CCG means we can work together to tackle those wider issues that impact the health and wellbeing of people in Portsmouth – things like improved air quality, housing and economic development. I’m excited to be delivering on our mission to make sure we’re providing the right services for the people in our city so they are supported to live full, healthy and independent lives.”


Why is the proposal being made?

The proposals are a natural development of work between the council and the CCG over a number of years.  They stem from requests made by both the council’s Cabinet and the CCG’s governing board to get broader and deeper integration between the two organisations. There are a number of factors involved: there are pressures on the health and social care system as a whole, and key documents (the NHS Long Term Plan and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Transformation Plan) have set out how the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector can and should work together to address those pressures.

The proposals are about making sure there are structures and attitudes in place – in terms of resources, decision-making and people – to make sure the city can fulfil its desire to provide joined-up care for people in Portsmouth, delivered in the right place and at the right time.

Local authorities are uniquely placed to engage with residents on a number of factors that contribute to people’s overall health and well-being – like education, housing, leisure and transport. Bringing the council and CCG closer together means that resources, knowledge and expertise can be better combined for the benefit of the people of Portsmouth.  Together, the council and the CCG will work with the wider health and care system to influence the delivery of better, more cost effective services across the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area.

What has happened so far?

The two organisations have worked together for a number of years as part of the Health and Care Portsmouth programme, and already share a number of statutory posts – including in Adult Social Care, Children, Families and Education; and in Public Health. There are also shared commissioning functions and teams.

By sharing knowledge, expertise and resources we have been able to achieve much, including:

  • Health visitors and children’s social workers have been co-located since 2016; in addition a diverse range of health and social care professionals has been brought together to deliver a Targeted Early Help and Prevention service for children and families.
  • Adult community health, social care and therapies have been co-located to deliver multiagency care and co-ordination.
  • From June 2018 the CCG has commissioned an Integrated Primary Care Service incorporating the provision of three interconnected services: Out of Hours (OOHs), the AVS, and GP Enhanced Access. This will ensure safe, effective delivery of primary medical care services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improve access to primary care.
  • A specific Blueprint for Adult Social Care in Portsmouth has been launched, with a cross-organisation programme board to ensure its delivery.
  • A joint health and care domiciliary care service specifically to enable people to return home as quickly and safely as possible after a hospital stay.
  • A collaborative approach has been taken to include the voluntary sector as an equal partner in the provision of health and care to Portsmouth residents. Through the signposting service, an easy access route for GPs has been available to access non-medical support from the voluntary sector for their patients.
  • A single clinical record across health and care providers in the city to improve communication between health and social care professionals. All GP practices within the city, Solent NHS Trust, and Adult Social Care use ‘TPP SystmOne’ as their primary clinical system – better for patients, and for the clinical staff.

All systems go for new Lighthouse Group Practice in Portsmouth

Two GP practices in Portsmouth have now officially merged to form a new partnership.

Southsea Medical Centre and The Devonshire Practice officially joined together on 1 July 2019 to form the new Lighthouse Group Practice.

The move has been planned for months and was announced last May. It has been approved by NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for planning primary care services city-wide.

The two former practices have a combined registered of more than 13,500 patients. Both sites, which are 1.5 miles apart, will remain open.

Managing Partner Andrew Clarke said: “We strongly believe that by becoming a single practice, and pooling our clinical skills and staffing resources, that we will be able to offer improved high-quality services and good access to those services.

“It will also help us to offer our patients much more robust cover during times of staff holiday leave or sickness, and patients can be seen at whichever site is more convenient to them.

“We are also offering extended access hours with our healthcare assistant (7.30-8am Monday to Thursday; a nurse prescriber clinic (Tuesday 6.30pm-8.30pm) and a GP and nurse prescriber (Thursday6.30pm -8pm).

The new combined practice plans to provide:

improved same day access for its patients, especially patients who were registered at Devonshire, where appointment times have been adversely affected by staff sickness in recent months
an in-house pharmacist who will ensure that repeat prescribing processes are safer, better managed and provide an improved service to patients
modern facilities fit for the future
Improvements to the patients’ GP-led telephone triage system across both sites
a dedicated long-term conditions nursing team to work across both practices
a more attractive workplace for future staff, helping GP and other staff recruitment and staff retention – especially as it plans to become an NHS ‘training practice.’
Further enhancements to existing administrative systems to help GPs manage their paperwork – freeing up more of their time for appointments.

First Contact Physio – telephone triage service now available in all GP surgeries in Portsmouth

A new physiotherapy triage service means direct access to care for Portsmouth residents.

People with muscle and joint-related pains can now get direct access to a new service available across the city. Following a successful trial, the First Contact Physio service is now available in all GP surgeries in Portsmouth; this puts patients directly in touch with a physiotherapist, without the need to see another clinical professional.

The new triage service is being delivered by Solent NHS Trust as part of Health and Care Portsmouth, and is running in surgeries across the city Monday to Friday 8am to 12pm.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) symptoms are one of the most common reasons for repeat consultations with 1 in 5 people contacting their GP with a problem.

With over 200,000 people living in the city, First Contact Physio will benefit many people as well as freeing up GP appointments for those who need them most. When they contact their surgery, patients with symptoms like back or neck pain, or a hip, knee or shoulder complaint, may be offered a same-day telephone appointment with a specialist physiotherapist. The consultation will provide an opportunity for patients to gain advice or treatment to speed up recovery.

Theresa Costello, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Solent NHS Trust, said: “We are very pleased to be rolling out this service. Many of the patients we help just need support and guidance, from the right clinician, on what they can do to help alleviate or manage their symptoms. This can be done quickly and effectively through our telephone triage consultation without any further appointments being required. For patients that have required further assessment, it has been fantastic to be able to offer  them early access to the physiotherapy service. This has enabled patients to have an assessment, receive a diagnosis and start appropriate treatment far sooner. We are the only service in the locality that is managing on-the-day demand for MSK conditions from primary care with the telephone triage model.”

Muscle and joint related symptoms are often a common reason for both urgent and repeat GP consultations; however, the majority of these do not need to be assessed by a GP. Last year, the service helped to free up 2,940 urgent primary care appointments across Portsmouth. The feedback that has been receiving from both patients and primary care teams has been resoundingly positive.

One service user said: “I think this is an excellent service, the person I spoke to was very professional. They took the time to explain my symptoms and gave me exercises to help my condition.”

Another patient added: “I was very surprised at how quick it was. The physiotherapist was able to arrange an appointment for me and the person I saw was fantastic. They helped me so much that I haven’t had to go back.”

Dr John Thornton, from Kirklands Surgery in Portsmouth, said: “It is a highly efficient system that gets patients help in a timely fashion from experts in their field and as a bonus frees us up as GPs to help those who need our other skills.”

Dr Linda Collie, GP and Chief Clinical Officer at Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We know we need to change how health services operate in the city and this is one of the ways we are trying to improve out of hospital care for our residents.

“The physio triage service makes great sense for our patients. Doctors like me are not specialists in this area so it would be much more useful for our patients to see a physiotherapist directly to ensure they get the care they need more efficiently. This will free up our time to see those who need us most whilst ensuring all patients get the appropriate care and support.”

Patients also have the option to self refer to physio via the Solent NHS Trust website at:

Getting Carers connected during Carers Week 2019

Carers Week, established by Carers UK 25 years ago, is an annual awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers.
Carers Week 2019 are calling on individuals, services and organisations to do their part in Getting Carers Connected – helping them get the practical, financial and emotional support they need to care for a loved one.
Portsmouth Carers Centre is encouraging carers to swap their knowledge with other carers, share information on the services which made a difference to them and their loved ones. There are some brilliant services out there, but smaller ones are not always commonly known or sometimes get overlooked. Many carers access smaller services provided by small local organisation or local church other carers are not aware of but would benefit from.

Portsmouth Carers Centre aims for carers to get connected with new services and with other carers. From the 1st of June 2019, staff from the centre will be collecting information on services used by carers and add them to the knowledge board at the base on Orchard Road. Carers will have sticky notes available to write on and put on the board when they pop in to the centre; those who are not able to visit personally, can call, send an email or FB message and the information will be added for them.
So what are they looking for?
It may be a service, a group, an activity, a charity or an organisation that carers have attended in the past or present, which they enjoyed or helped them in some way. It could be someone from a pastoral service, church session, community centre or a group, home shopping service, a mobile hairdresser or a mobile chiropodist just to name a few!

All carers and carers friends are invited to come in and have a chat at Carers drop in at HIVE, Central Library 10AM-12PM on Wednesday 5th June.  Click here to find out more.

The main Carers Information Swap Day at Portsmouth Carers Centre will take place 10AM-2PM on Wednesday 12th June.  Click here to find out more. 

For those who are able join, it will be great opportunity to chat and swap information while having coffee and a cake, discuss the findings with other carers, Carers Centre staff, Community Connectors and Social Prescribing team. Everyone is welcome to attend.