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No Smoking Day 2021 – 10th March 2021

No Smoking Day 2021, the theme agreed for this year is: Quitting smoking doesn’t have to be stressful.

This is a positive message that acknowledges smokers’ preconceptions while challenging them and providing hope. The messages will drive smokers towards using aids in their quit attempt and inform smokers that those who have been quit for more than six weeks have seen improvements in their mental health.

Key messages

  • Quitting smoking doesn’t have to feel painful – stop smoking aids can really help
  • Quitting isn’t always easy but getting the right stop smoking aids and support can stop you feeling like you need a cigarette all the time
  • Today is the Day to put smoking behind you. Smokers who quit for 6 weeks or more are happier and experience less anxiety and depression than those who carry on smoking.
  • Research shows that people who have quit smoking for a year are happier than those who continue to smoke.

Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your health and mental wellbeing.  For support to quit this No Smoking Day contact 0800 389 3998.

The No Smoking Day 2021 Communications Toolkit is now available to support your local activity. The Toolkit includes:

  • Campaign aims and key messages
  • Links to assets to support local amplification work
  • Templates for social media, emails, websites and local PR

No Smoking Day 2021 Communications Toolkit

Quitting during COVID

The last year has been difficult for many of us. Stress and concern about our health is on the rise. For smokers this has pulled them in two directions. On the one hand, the chances of smokers successfully quitting are has high as they’ve ever been. On the other, smokers experiencing stress and mental distress are more likely to be smoking more. This No Smoking Day we want to take the opportunity to inform smokers that quitting can be less stressful than they fear and can ultimately improve their sense of wellbeing. We all of us have less control over our lives than we’d like at the moment, but smokers can take some positive control on No Smoking Day. We can support smokers to cease the moment and look forward to happier smokefree future.

Evidence behind the campaign

Getting support can reduce symptoms of withdrawal

Nicotine Replacement Therapy, Varenicline and Bupropion have all been shown to improve a smokers’ chance of successfully quitting by reducing the extent to which smokers experience withdrawal.

These medications do not completely eliminate the symptoms of withdrawal but behavioural support can help smokers to manage those withdrawal symptoms that remain. Most smokers see their withdrawal symptoms peak after the first week and pass within 4 weeks.

Stopping smoking boosts your mental health

In 2014 a meta-analysis found that stopping smoking is associated with improvements in mental health such as reduced depression and anxiety when compared to continuing to smoke: www.bmj.com  This analysis has been updated by Cochrane and is due to be published shortly. In summary the findings from over 160,000 people suggest that people who quit smoking are likely to have improved mental wellbeing, in particular:

  • Reduced depression
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Improved quality of life

The study also looked at people’s social contacts and found no evidence that quitting smoking damaged people’s social connections (something that some people who smoke worry about). The Cochrane update is due to published to coincide with No Smoking Day and ASH will be putting out a press release on the findings as will Cochrane.

How quickly do smokers see the mental health benefits of stopping?

The immediate impact of quitting for most smokers is a range of withdrawal symptoms that worsen people’s sense of mental wellbeing from increased irritability to heightened sense of depression. Research indicates that these symptoms rarely exceed 2 – 4 weeks. The improved mental wellbeing scores are from at least 6 weeks after quitting though people may well feel the benefits sooner.

Why does stopping smoking improve your mental health?

There could be a number of reasons why quitting improves your mental health but one is that it breaks the cycle of nicotine dependence. Every day smokers go through withdrawal symptoms which damage their mental wellbeing, these are alleviated by smoking but quickly return as the effect of the nicotine wears off. Stopping smoking breaks this cycle improving people’s sense of wellbeing. To understand more please watch the below video:

Access to NHS Services during Covid-19 Vaccination Programme

General Information for patients regarding appointments and other contact agencies

All NHS services are under severe pressure at the moment, as we look after increasing numbers of patients who are sick with covid-19 and other seasonal illnesses.

We are also assisting (off site) with the delivery of the huge and vitally important covid-19 vaccination programme.

Do continue to get in touch with us if you need to. This is particularly important if:

  • your problem is urgent;
  • you have long term condition that is getting worse
  • you are worried about symptoms that might indicate cancer

Please also remember you can call NHS 111 for urgent concerns, and 999 for serious emergencies.

If you have an issue that is not urgent, you may have to wait longer than usual until your problem or concern can be dealt with.

Other very useful contacts and organisations

Your local pharmacist. They can help with minor complaints

Adults with mental health problems including depression and anxiety, you can refer yourself directly to the local wellbeing service, via their website.

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call this freephone number: 0800 6444 101.

We have a childhood illnesses leaflet free to download here, full of advice and information for parents and carers of young children www.hertsvalleysccg.nhs.uk/Help_your_Child_Stay_Well_This_Winter

Herts Help has a range of support and information to help people though the lockdown here www.hertshelp.net/hertshelp.aspx

Thank you very much for helping us all manage under these very difficult circumstances.

COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

For answers to common questions you may have on the COVID-19 vaccine, please read the COVID-19 vaccine FAQs.

08/04/21 AstraZeneca Vaccine Update

06/01/2021 Vaccine Update

Information about local Covid-19 vaccination centres

The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme is now underway and is starting to be rolled out in GP-led vaccination centres. The information below answers some of patients’ key questions about getting the vaccine.

When will I be getting the vaccine?

People in the top priority groups, agreed by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, will get the vaccine first. More information about how the vaccine will be rolled out to people in order of priority, starting with those who most need protecting from the virus, is in the Why do I have to wait? leaflet.

The vaccine is being provided first of all for patients aged 80 and over as well as staff from care homes. Vaccinations in the Hertsmere area for the first eligible groups of patients will start from the first week of January. Patients need two doses of the vaccine 12 weeks apart.

How will I be invited for an appointment?

We will contact you to invite you to book your appointment when it is your turn. You will need to book an appointment for both your first and second dose.

Please DO NOT contact surgery to try to make an appointment before you hear from us. This will allow our staff to focus on helping patients needing medical help as well as starting to contact patients about vaccine appointments when we’re able to do so. Practice staff are not currently able to give you any more information than we have provided here.

Where will I be getting the vaccine?

Your vaccine will be in a local vaccination centre that is run by local GPs. The Pfizer vaccine is safe and highly effective, but it is complex to move, store and prepare and so can only be given in vaccination centres that meet particular requirements.

There will be one vaccination centre serving Hertsmere residents. All vaccination centres must be in places that are easy for people to get to. The NHS will announce more details a little closer to the vaccination centre opening and more information will, of course, be provided to patients at the time of booking.

Will housebound and care home patients be able to have the vaccine at home in the same way as for the flu vaccine.

We will be making arrangements to offer the Covid-19 vaccine in people’s homes and in care homes for people who are unable to get to a vaccination centre.

However, we can’t confirm when that might be as this may have to wait for supply of the right type of vaccine. This is because only some vaccines can be transported between people’s homes.

You can also find more information about the vaccine on the NHS.UK website.

For more information, please see the following leaflets:

For information on self-isolating, please see the Important Information to Keep You Safe While Isolating at Home leaflet.

Business as Usual but with a few adaptations

As we continue to operate with Covid 19 in the community we are pleased that we have continued to offer a full service to our patients all be it in a slightly different format.

  • GP appointments are being booked in as a telephone call and then the doctor decides on one of four routes:
    • The doctor is able to deal with query with either advice and guidance; or is able to make a referral or issue a prescription to be sent straight to the pharmacy.
    • The doctor needs to see a rash ( for example) and the patient will be given guidance on how to text or email a photo of the rash
    • The doctor wishes to gain more details and converts the phone call to a face to face video examination such as a with an ill child
    • The doctor and patient jointly deem it appropriate that a face to face consultation is required and an appointment is allocated by the doctor

This system has proved very popular with most of our patients as it has meant that their query is dealt with immediately and they do not have to make a physical trip to the doctors; sit amongst other sick patients and wait for their appointment, then take the prescription to the chemist etc… Patients are able to take the call at work or in the comfort of their home reducing the inconvenience; whilst knowing that if they needed to see a doctor this can be accommodated either by video link or face to face when deemed clinically necessary.

  • Nurses appointments are being booked for smears; blood tests; childhood vaccinations ; dressings etc. and there are now very few services that we are still unable to provide although Travel Vaccinations; spirometry and ear syringing (to name a few) are still not reactivated. Some services such as annual asthma checks are being conducted by telephone as the information can be gathered and decisions made by phone and it enables those that perhaps found it difficult to come for an annual review to ( where appropriate) give an update by phone. All nurses appointment patients will be pre-screened for Covid symptoms and patients MUST NOT attend if symptomatic, so that our staff can remain well and able to offer our community the services they want.
  • e- consult is a new avenue that we have launched for a wide range of conditions via our website. You can look up conditions and will be directed to the best solution for that condition. You may be guided to exercises; advised of allied health professionals who can assist or it may result in a prescription being issued or a doctor contacting you for a consultation.

Sick notes; contraception repeats etc. can all be requested via this forum so it may be worth a try? This is growing in popularity as it means you can fill it in during an evening and it will get processed within 48 hours ( this is for non-urgent problems). This saves you trying to get through at 8am if that is inconvenient for you.

  • Prescriptions. These are all being sent electronically to your nominated chemist, saving you the hassle of picking them up then taking them to the chemist and waiting for them to be dispensed. Repeat medications can be requested via our website ( see repeat prescriptions); Patient Access or NHS App, or send an email to highview.scripts@nhs.net . Alternatively if you have no access to these forums you can phone your pharmacist to place it for you or you can put a request in the Highview box outside the building.

We want to sincerely thank our patients for their support and adapting with us as we continue to manage patients health in different circumstances.

Herts Careline Newsletter Spring 2020

The Herts Careline’s latest newsletter brings you the latest updates, specifically news about our Contact-less procedure for the installation of community alarms and telecare, meaning they can continue to support new and existing customers during these challenging times.

For more information, please read the full newsletter.

Keep in Touch (KIT) Service

Our KIT service has been extended with additional staff now making calls to carers (including myself), along with a fantastic team of volunteers. I personally have found carers very grateful to receive a call just to check that they are coping both practically and emotionally, and answering any questions they may have about the government guidelines. We are giving ideas about exercising at home from our website along with details of our “things to do” during isolation ideas.  We are helping carers to get food packages and shopping arranged along with medication collections should it be required. Some carers are concerned about who will care for their loved one should they themselves become ill. We are helping people thing through their options and plan what they can do should the situation arise.

Carers in Herts Contact Number: 01992 586969

Covid- 19 Update

Message from Herts Valley CCG

GP practices move to protect against coronavirus with more phone and video appointments

GP practices are moving to protect the patients and their staff against coronavirus by reducing visits into surgeries and switching to telephone and video appointments wherever they can.

Patients with concerns about coronavirus are being asked to follow government advice, rather than contact their GP practice. If you, or anyone in your household, have a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, however mild, stay at home and go to nhs.uk to check symptoms and follow the specialist medical advice. You can also contact the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. Only call 111 if you cannot get online or if your symptoms worsen.

Patients who contact their local practice for an appointment with a GP or nurse will have an initial telephone assessment and could then be booked in for a follow-up consultation. Wherever possible, this consultation will be over the phone or by video. Anyone who needs to be seen in person by a doctor or nurse will be offered an appointment at the surgery as long as there’s no risk to patients or staff.

Practices will review appointments that are already booked- in, and will contact patients about changing this to a phone or video appointment where appropriate.

In light of this new approach, many practices are not accepting online bookings. However, patients are still encouraged to use online services for things like ordering repeat prescriptions and checking medical records.

Practices aim to send all prescriptions, including repeat prescriptions, through the electronic prescription service (EPS) to the patient’s nominated pharmacy. Patients without a nominated pharmacy can choose one online or ask their usual pharmacy to set this up. If your prescription can’t be sent through EPS to a nominated pharmacy you will need to contact the GP practice by telephone or online.

Dr Nicolas Small, GP chair of Herts Valleys CCG said: “In keeping with the Government’s approach to protect people against coronavirus by moving to all but essential contact with others, our GP practices are moving to a new way of working. Our priority is to make sure that our GPs, nurses and wider teams in practices remain available to support patients and, while more of that support will be over the phone or by video, our practices are still open and will be arranging to see patients where needed.

“We would urge people to protect themselves and others – particularly those who are most vulnerable – by following government advice around coronavirus and not coming into practices unless they have a confirmed arrangement to do that. In this way we can help keep everyone safe.

“Finally, I would encourage people to be considerate of others when buying over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol, and only get as much as you need. If everyone is sensible there is enough to go around.”

Isolation sick notes for your employer

Please note that we are unable to supply you with a sick note if you are isolating at home because of coronavirus. If you have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will not need an isolation note.

If you are asked to provide a sick note because you are unable to work from home, please visit https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/ and you will be able to get an isolation note.