Make sure you get protected against flu this winter

Published/updated: 22/12/10 10:53

FluWith seasonal flu on the rise in the West Midlands, Heart of England NHS Trust is encouraging members of the public most at risk to get protected this winter.

High risk groups include the over 65s, pregnant women, children under 5 and people suffering from long term chronic illness. If you belong to one of these groups you can arrange the vaccine through your local GP surgery.

Diane Tomlinson, lead infection control and prevention nurse, said: “I would urge those in the high-risk groups to make sure they have their vaccination. If you are suffering from flu, avoid accident and emergency. Until the symptoms have cleared, contact with others and any Hospital visits should be avoided.”

Flu occurs every year, usually in winter, and is not treatable with antibiotics. For fit and healthy people, flu symptoms are similar to a cold, including a fever, chills, headache, aching muscles, cough and sore throat. The disease is also highly contagious and can spread through the air by sneezing.

Swine flu is now classified within seasonal flu and is covered within the vaccine available to high risk groups.

If you are worried and would like further help and advice, contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit your local drop-in centre.

Message of thanks from Andrew Lansley to all NHS staff

Published/updated: 22/12/10 10:52

A message of thanks from Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health

Dear colleague

During the recent severe weather, my Ministerial colleagues and I have been constantly informed about how the NHS has responded. I want to convey our thanks and appreciation for the effective and committed way in which you and your colleagues have responded in often challenging circumstances. We have all seen the effect that the snow and ice have had on the country, yet the NHS and its partners have continued to provide quality care to their patients. Sir David Nicholson’s letter of 23 November set out the importance of effective winter planning, strong leadership and joint working across organisational boundaries, and the last few weeks have shown that the NHS is more than capable of delivering against these criteria.

I have been very impressed by the dedication of NHS staff to keep services available. I know that many of you have made significant efforts to travel into work during this period, staying over at work as and when needed, to ensure that patient care is not disrupted. I am grateful for all of your efforts and am sure your patients and local community are too.

This time of year sees a significant increase in the number of people using our hospitals. I am aware that in addition to the problems presented by the severe weather, there has also been a number of people requiring hospital care for flu or flu-like illness, and increased pressure for beds as a result of norovirus. It is to your credit that our hospitals – working together with local partners – have maintained high quality services throughout this recent period, ensuring patients get the care and treatment they need.

I  am aware that many of you will be continuing to work throughout the holiday season and I would like to reiterate my thanks to you and your teams for all your hard work, and encourage you to keep working together with colleagues across the health and care system to keep up the excellent response to winter demands. I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas period.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Lansley CBE

Secretary of State for Health

Consider other options before using A&E

Published/updated: 20/12/10 10:54

Heart of England NHS Trust is urging the public to remember local walk in centres, GPs surgeries and NHS Direct before heading straight to A&E.

With more extreme winter weather expected, the local emergency departments are busier than usual with additional pressures on their services. Those with minor injuries or ailments, such as cold and flu-like symptoms, are advised to call their GP or NHS Direct for advice, or to attend a local walk-in centre. Hospital A&E should be reserved for urgent cases only, including loss of consciousness, severe chest pain, breathing difficulties, serious accidents, severe bleeding, deep wounds and serious breaks such as a broken leg.

Dr Aidan Macnamara, Clinical Director for A&E, said: “It is a problem when patients use their local A&E services instead of more suitable alternatives. We ask that the public only call the ambulance service in genuine emergencies. It is about looking at things a bit differently, rather than just automatically thinking A&E is the only place to go for treatment, it may actually be more beneficial for the patient to consider the other local services available to them.

“During this very busy period, we need to remind patients of the wide range of information and out-of-hours support and treatment that is available across Birmingham and the West Midlands, aside from the emergency department at the Hospital.  Our aim as an organisation is to deliver and manage the safest care to all of our patients now and always.  We are committed to working with our patients and welcome your support in doing this during this busy time.”

NHS Direct is available all day every day on (0845) 46 47 or by visiting www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk. To find your local walk-in centre or GP, visit www.nhs.uk/ServiceDirectories/Pages/ServiceSearch.aspx

Local walk-in centres include:

Urgent Care Centre Kingstanding: Warren Farm Health Centre, Warren Farm road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, B44 0PU, tel: 0121 465 5600

George Bryan Centre: Plantation Lane, Mile Oak, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B78 3NG, tel: 01827 285598

Urgent Care Centre Washwood Heath: Washwood Heath Health Centre, Clodeshall road, off Alum Rock road, Saltley, Birmingham, B8 3SN, tel: 0121 465 5165

Birmingham NHS Walk-in Centre: Lower ground floor, Boots, 66 High Street, Birmingham B4 7TA, tel: 0121 255 4500

Summerfield Urgent Care Centre: 134 Heath Street, Winson Green, Birmingham, B18 7AL, tel: 0345 245 0769

Dog assisting in the therapy of patients

Published/updated: 18/12/10 11:12

A unique dog assisting in the therapy of patients on Solihull Hospital’s stroke unit has been nominated for a top award to be announced at the world famous dog show Crufts.

The Chihuahua named ‘Roo’ is one of five Pets As Therapy (PAT) dogs who visit the ward to help in the rehabilitation of patients. Roo has been nominated from over 4,700 registered PAT dogs for the HiLife PAT Dog of the Year competition.

Jane Neary, stoke unit housekeeper and PAT volunteer, said: “We are so proud to be nominated for this award. Roo, along with the other PAT dogs, bring so much happiness and love to the patients on the ward, and have a huge impact on their rehabilitation from strokes.

“Many patients have their own pets at home so it’s wonderful for them to interact with an animal. Roo provides stimulation and helps patients communicate and develop emotionally.

“Roo is extremely popular and is loved by all the staff, visitors and patients who meet him and even patients who have lost the ability of speech, you see their faces light up. I’d encourage everyone to go out and vote for him!”

The winning PAT Dog of the Year will be announced during a special presentation at Crufts at the NEC in March. To vote for Roo, email win@yours.co.uk with “I vote for Roo” in the subject line. The competition closes on November 30.

Birmingham HIV medics deliver a Christmas message with a twist

Published/updated: 17/12/10 10:56

christmasballsBirmingham medics are holding a Christmas parade with a twist in order to raise awareness about the dangers of HIV and the importance of safe sex.

HIV experts from Heartlands Hospital’s sexual health department will be joined by a life sized ‘Beer Goggles Johnny’ cartoon condom. Fashion students from South Birmingham College put together the man sized character based on the sexual health departments mascot. The team will be hitting Birmingham’s biggest night spots in an effort to arm partygoers with the knowledge they need to stay safe this festive season.

“One in four of those with HIV don’t know it,” explains Dr John Watson, of Heartlands HIV Service. “We have witnessed a rise of over 400% in HIV diagnosis in the West Midlands over the last decade, but the number of people who remain unaware of their condition remains worryingly high. In its early stages, HIV is often without symptoms – meaning that it can be difficult to diagnose without a blood test.”

“People who don’t know they have HIV cannot access the life-saving treatment doctors can now offer,” Dr Watson continues. “They may also be spreading their infection to other sexual partners without even knowing it.”

The ‘Beer Goggles Johnny’ character is part of a campaign to reach groups who are often resistant to sexual health messages. Young people, who may not remember the AIDS scare of the 1980s, are often unaware that HIV remains a life-threatening, incurable condition; heterosexuals, meanwhile, sometimes still believe themselves not to be at risk of contracting HIV.

On Monday, 21st December, Heartlands HIV Service and Beer Goggles Johnny will start their parade at 7.30pm outside Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. From there, they will proceed up and down Broad Street, handing out condoms and educational leaflets.

Eileen Simmonds, Head of the fashion department at South Birmingham College said: “It’s been a fantastically educational project for our students, not to mention a lot of fun. Let’s hope all their hard work will translate into the public health benefits the Heartlands HIV Service are working towards.”

“Our aim is to diagnose the 22,000 people living in the UK who are infected with HIV but do not know it,” said Dr John Watson. As the Christmas party season gets into full swing, Johnny’s triple message about the dangers of excessive alcohol, the importance of using condoms, and the benefits of regular testing for HIV and STIs could not be timelier. If revelers listen to the life-size condom, they hopefully won’t become one of the one in four.

For more information visit www.sexualhealthbirmingham.nhs.uk

Hospital experts urge locals to be vigilant against infection this winter

Published/updated: 15/12/10 11:46

Copy of TW0025 Infection control message - member of staff washing handsWith winter fast approaching, experts at the Heart of England NHS Trust are warning local people to be prepared for seasonal flu and sickness viruses.

Each year the Trust infection control team, which covers Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospitals, prepares for any infection outbreaks in the community, helping prevent these spreading amongst Hospital patients, visitors and staff.

Diane Tomlinson, lead infection control and prevention nurse, said: “The Trust has strict hand hygiene guidelines and this year has installed new antiviral gel to prevent outbreaks.

“If you or family member has suffered from flu or sickness and diarrhoea, you will still be highly contagious for 48 hours after the symptoms disappear. Until this time, contact with others and any Hospital visits should be avoided.

“If a ward has a sickness and diarrhoea outbreak, often known as ‘norovirus’, we will be closing the affected ward to visiting, for a fixed time period, but will not be restricting visiting to other wards on the sites as we have done in previous years.”

Ward staff will contact relatives and next-of-kin, to inform them of the closure, allowing infection control teams to contain and clean the area and for patients to recover without any new germs passing through the ward.

Diane’s tips for avoiding infection.

–       Protect yourself from flu by having a vaccination, available from your GP from October. The vaccination is available to the at-risk groups – the over 65s, pregnant women, children under 5 and people suffering from chronic disease.

–       To prevent flu germs spreading, use a tissue when you sneeze, put the tissue in the bin then wash your hands.

–       To avoid norovirus, wash hands with soap and water, keep surfaces, objects and fabrics clean, and do not eat raw or unwashed food.

Trust urges locals to be vigilant against infection this winter

Published/updated: 15/12/10 10:57

Now the winter weather is here and the snow has started to fall, experts at the Heart of England NHS Trust are warning local people to be prepared for seasonal flu and sickness viruses.

Each year the infection control team prepares for any infection outbreaks in the community, helping prevent these spreading amongst Hospital patients, visitors and staff.

Diane Tomlinson, lead infection control and prevention nurse, said: “our Hospitals have strict hand hygiene guidelines and this year has installed new antiviral gel to prevent outbreaks.

“If you or family member has suffered from flu or sickness and diarrhoea, you will still be highly contagious for 48 hours after the symptoms disappear. Until this time, contact with others and any Hospital visits should be avoided.

“If a ward has a sickness and diarrhoea outbreak, often known as ‘norovirus’, we will be closing the affected ward to visiting, for a fixed time period, but will not be restricting visiting to other wards on the sites as we have done in previous years.”

Ward staff will contact relatives and next-of-kin, to inform them of the closure, allowing infection control teams to contain and clean the area and for patients to recover without any new germs passing through the ward.

Diane’s tips for avoiding infection.

–       Protect yourself from flu by having a vaccination, available from your GP from October. The vaccination is available to the at-risk groups – the over 65s, pregnant women, children under 5 and people suffering from chronic disease.

–       To prevent flu germs spreading, use a tissue when you sneeze, put the tissue in the bin then wash your hands.

–       To avoid norovirus, wash hands with soap and water, keep surfaces, objects and fabrics clean, and do not eat raw or unwashed food.

Good Hope mums rest easy with new arrival

Published/updated: 09/12/10 10:58

Pic one New mum Samantha Garey with baby Oliver and Midwife  Lisa ChealNew mums at Good Hope are resting easy thanks to the arrival of the very latest baby tagging technology at the Hospital.

The system, known as XTAG, involves each baby on the unit being fitted with an ankle strap, which monitors them through a high-tech security system. If there is an attempt to move the baby from the ward, or the tag is cut or tampered with, an alarm is triggered and the unit locks down. Sensors on the ceiling of the maternity unit also link directly to the Hospital’s security control room.

The adjustable ankle strap is fitted as soon as the newborn checks have been completed by hospital staff. The midwife then enters the baby’s details into a central computer which references and activates the baby’s tag strap.

Maggie Coleman, Obs and Gynae Services Manager at Good Hope Hospital, said: “The safety of our babies is paramount and the tag strap system compliments the existing security measures we have in place. It has proven to be a simple, yet effective means of ensuring all of our babies remain safe. New mums and families benefitting from this additional control measure have been really positive with their feedback.”

An average of 3,700 babies are born at Good Hope every year and information about the new system is given to every expectant mother on arrival at the Hospital. The tag strap is easily removed by the midwife when the baby is ready to go home.

Students set team challenge to help sick patients

Published/updated: 08/12/10 11:00

Solihull stroke unitElderly patients at Solihull Hospital can now keep fit thanks to a generous donation of equipment from local college students.

Patients on the Hospital’s stroke unit received a new trampoline, weights and games to support their rehabilitation and physiotherapy treatment.

The student’s, from Solihull College, raised the funds as part of their ‘Team Challenge’ to help a worthy cause in their community. The programme is designed to help young people improve their self esteem, confidence and progression into further education.

Chelsea Lea Merchant, Solihull College student, said: “We wanted to buy the gifts for the patients to make them feel special and so they don’t feel like they have been forgotten, something to brighten up their day.”

Rachael Morris, ward sister at Solihull Hospital Stroke Unit, said: “It is great to see young people raising money for the elderly who are often missed when it comes to fundraising. We really appreciate the donation and will ensure the equipment is put to good use.”

Vanessa Morris, Princes Trust team leader, said: “We are continuously looking at ways to help our local community and this time the students decided they wanted to focus on the elderly particularly those who may be in hospital around Christmas time.”

“The students ‘Team Challenge’ is part of the Princes Trust Team Programme designed to help improve young people’s social and team building skills.”

The 17-19 year olds raised the funds through bag packing in their local M&S store and a raffle to win a signed ball from Birmingham City Football Club. They also donated personal items such as towels, flannels, toiletries and picture frames.

A bold move for daughter of cancer patient

Published/updated: 06/12/10 11:02

A bold move for daughter of cancer patientIt was a close shave for the daughter of Leukaemia patient, Patricia Stanley, when she shaved her head in support of her mother and raised over £1,000 for Heartlands Hospital’s cancer ward.

Tina Freeman, from Hednesford Staffordshire, shaved her head after her mother was diagnosed with Leukaemia in December, last year.

Tina said: “When we discovered my mum had been diagnosed with Leukaemia we all wanted to do our best to support her. When she said she was worried about losing her hair I was inspired to shave mine to show her I was with her every step of the way. I would like to thank Kerry at Fusion Hair Salon for her bravery in shaving my hair off and to many of her clients who contributed to the cause.”

Patricia Stanley, Leukaemia patient and mum, said: “I am extremely proud of my daughter. Having such great support from my family and friends has made this whole experience much more bearable.”

Kathy Holder, cancer nurse specialist, said: “We often see how difficult the experience can be for our patients and also families who just don’t know how they can best support their loved ones. We really appreciate the donation to the ward and we will put this towards an electric bed for ward patients.”

Donations came from friends and family as well as Staffordshire police.

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