Locally we have asked GPs to adhere to some new guidance that seeks to use local resources more sensibly. The local NHS has been spending around £1million a year on prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket. To help us make better use of our budget we have implemented the national guidance by NHS England on the prescribing of over the counter medicines. This means that your GP, nurse or pharmacist will not generally give you a prescription for over the counter medicines for a range of minor health conditions such as mild pain, athlete’s foot or dandruff. Over the counter medicines are available to buy in a pharmacy or supermarket in your local community.
There are exceptions to the new rules and you may still be prescribed an over the counter medicine in some circumstances, e.g. the relief of symptoms from a long term condition or if you can’t treat yourself due to a mental health problem or vulnerability. Read more about the changes on our website here.
Community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are qualified healthcare professionals who are the right people to see if you need clinical advice or over the counter medicines to help safely manage a wide range of minor health conditions. If your symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, they’ll ensure you get the care you need. Find details of your local pharmacy on the Our Rochdale directory of services.
At all times of the year it’s worthwhile being prepared for common ailments by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home, so you can treat common conditions immediately without needing to see a healthcare professional. Find more information about what types of items you should stock up on here on our website on or nhs.uk here.
This month we’re also calling local patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to help improve their condition by trialling new online support and education via an app called MyCOPD. This provides education, pulmonary rehabilitation and disease management tailored to the individual. Using the app, patients can access support 24/7 on their smartphones, tablet or computer to manage their health online. 750 selected patients with COPD in the borough are being offered the app free of charge. Eleven GP practices across the borough have signed up to trial the app with suitable patients, but you may also be eligible to use the app if you have an existing diagnosis of COPD and are under the care of the enhanced respiratory service, community matrons in the integrated neighbourhood teams or the smoking cessation service. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with COPD and would like to register your interest in using the MyCOPD app, please call 01706 652853 or email email@example.com. Read more about the MyCOPD programme on our website here.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for our annual general meeting (AGM) last month – I think this may have been our most memorable one yet. This year, along with local people interested in healthcare, clinicians and local councillors, we welcomed special guests, Year 6 pupils from Lowerplace Primary School in Rochdale to hear about our organisation’s successes and challenges during 2018/19.
During the formal AGM, the room heard summaries of the CCG’s performance over the past year from the organisation’s leaders and senior staff, in a presentation carefully tailored so it was accessible to the 10 and 11 year olds who joined us.
A lively engagement session followed. Highlights included the performance by pupils of an original rap on the themes of diversity and inclusion. The young people then participated in a game about buying and selling human rights, in which pupils had to consider which human rights are the most important to them. The session was the culmination of several classroom workshops on diversity, inclusion and human rights that our engagement lead had delivered to the Year 6 pupils in the week leading up to the AGM to help them prepare. The topics of inclusion and diversity were complex ones to cover with the pupils but they really embraced the subjects and it was interesting to hear their perspectives. Thanks to everyone who supported the day.
Our AGM is just one way that Rochdale borough residents can get involved in local healthcare and this month there are two more opportunities. On Friday 19 July we are holding our Governing Body meeting at Number One Riverside. Held bi-monthly, Governing Body meetings are where official CCG business is discussed and formal decisions are made about everything from policies to which health services will be commissioned. Public questions are welcome and can either be submitted in advance, through the online form, or asked during the open questions slot at beginning of each meeting.
We are also holding our Integrated Commissioning Board (ICB) meeting on Tuesday 30 July. The ICB is a joint committee made up of CCG governing body members and Rochdale Borough Councillors. Its purpose is to strategically lead, direct and make decisions about the jointly commissioned health and social care services in the Rochdale borough which improve the health and wellbeing of local people and provide better value for public money.
Both our Governing Body and ICB meetings are held in public and I encourage local people to attend and get involved in healthcare.
Creating a primary care workforce fit for the future is one of the CCG’s priorities and together with the HMR Primary Care Academy this year we have been running an NHS Ambassadors programme. Its purpose is to demonstrate the diverse range of jobs that are available within the NHS and help illustrate the connection between these professions and what students are studying in the classroom. Last month a number of my colleagues and I visited four local primary schools to talk to pupils about careers in the NHS and our roles as healthcare professionals in the borough.
Dr Sarah Purlackee hosted a session at Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Rochdale; Dr Bodrul Alam spoke to pupils at Caldershaw Primary School, Rochdale; Dr Imran Ghafoor and I visited classes at Bowlee Park Community Primary School, Middleton; and Clinical Pharmacist, Samina Bibi took part in an Aspirations Day at Elm Wood Primary School, Middleton. Even though there are more than 350 different careers in the NHS, some children associate it with just doctors and nurses who, in reality, make up less than 40% of the total workforce. The NHS Ambassadors sessions are a good chance to get pupils thinking about other important jobs that people do in the health service and hopefully inspire some pupils to become the borough’s primary care clinicians, healthcare professionals and support staff of the future. Through the programme so far we’ve met a budding heart surgeon, neo natal nurse, children’s nurse, midwife, paramedic and scientist, and to hear the school pupils talk about their ambitions at this young age is wonderful.
If you’re a headteacher or teacher who would like to invite professionals from HMR CCG or the HMR Primary Care Academy to come in to your school or college to talk to their pupils and students, please contact HMR CCG Engagement Lead Phil Burton via phil.burton@NHS.net or 01706 65 2151.
Thanks for reading
Dr Chris Duffy