It may feel like we’re just coming to the end of summer, but across the NHS we’ve been gearing up for the upcoming winter season for months and protecting local people from the flu virus is a big part of this.
If you’re a parent or carer with a child at primary school you may already know that the school flu programme is back again offering nasal flu vaccinations to primary school children across the borough of Rochdale.
Flu really is serious and can be horrible for children, and having the vaccination is the best protection they can get against the unpredictable virus. Children also tend to be ‘super-spreaders’ of flu, so vaccinating them is crucial for protecting more vulnerable members of the community.
The children’s flu vaccination comes in the form of a nasal spray and requires parents to sign a consent form for their children to take part. The form is being sent out to all parents through primary school at the start of the new school term. Please look out for it (if you’ve not already received one) and complete and return the form to school to protect your child this winter. The immunisation teams will visit schools between October and December; your child’s date will be communicated to you via your school.
If you would like more information or to speak to someone about the school flu programme please contact the free flu line on 0333 358 3397. You can also find more information on the Share Good Times Not Flu website.
Healthy children in school years reception to year six will only be able to receive the vaccination at school. Children with long term health conditions, and children aged 2 and 3 will be given the vaccination at their general practice – book in at your GP surgery to protect them, and the rest of the family.
Of course, as well as vaccinating children against the flu this year, we’re offering free flu vaccinations to other local people who could be ‘at risk’ of developing severe complications – such as bronchitis, pneumonia, the worsening of an existing condition or even death – from the flu virus. Many people underestimate the seriousness of the flu and don’t take advantage of the free flu jab. If you are aged over 65, are pregnant or have an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease) or a weakened immune system it is vital that you have your flu vaccine. You can make an appointment with your GP practice or at your local pharmacy, so book yourself in to protect yourself and loved ones. Visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine for more information.
Also remember that if you come down with a cough, cold or sore throat this autumn or winter, don’t reach for antibiotics. Unpleasant as these illnesses are, most cases are caused by viral infections which can’t be cured by antibiotics. Instead the best things to do are take paracetamol, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and visit your local pharmacist for over the counter medicines to help ease your symptoms. Use a tissue and wash your hands well to help prevent spread of your infection to your family, friends and others you meet, too. If your condition – or your child’s – worsens or you are sicker than you would expect (even if your/their temperature falls), trust your instincts and seek medical advice urgently from NHS 111 or your GP.
On to news from around the CCG and I’m delighted that on 27 September we’ll be announcing the winners of our annual Special Thanks And Recognition (STAR) Awards. The awards aim to celebrate and recognise CCG staff, GPs and GP practice staff for the excellent work they do to help NHS HMR CCG deliver its objectives and achieve its vision of health. Special thanks go to members of the public who nominated their GP or a member of GP practice staff for the People’s STAR. This accolade goes to a person or team considered by patients and the public to have provided high quality, compassionate and individual patient care and we received a total of 36 nominations in this category, which is terrific. The winner of the People’s STAR award and the other categories will be announced at the ceremony on 27 September in Rochdale. Find out more about the STAR Awards 2019 and read the full list of nominees on our website here. Good luck to all our nominees!
Also celebrating this month is the Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Community Cancer Service, which is marking its first birthday with an extra special Macmillan Coffee Morning at Rochdale Infirmary on 27 September 10.30am-2pm. The event will showcase the dedicated support available for people living with and beyond cancer in the Rochdale borough, as well as raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. The celebrations are part of the HMR Self-Care Hub’s launch, at which a variety of professionals from the HMR Self Management Service will be providing information about their work and how they can support local adults who live with long-term conditions, re-occurring illness, and disability, as well as carers. Read more about the hub launch in this news story on our website.
Finally this September there are two opportunities for local people to help shape the borough’s healthcare services. Our Governing Body is meeting on Friday 20 September 10.30am-12.30pm and the Integrated Commissioning Board, made up of HMR CCG governing body members and local councillors, is meeting on Monday 30 Sept at 3.30pm. The meetings are held in public at Number One Riverside so local people can see for themselves how decisions are made, and I’d encourage anyone who is interested in finding out more about our work to attend. You can find more details in the meetings section on our website.
Thanks for reading
Dr Chris Duffy