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Health & Wellbeing

Coronavirus Testing

There are now more places to get a free rapid asymptomatic Covid-19 test in Worcestershire for those who DO NOT have any symptoms of Covid-19.  Around one in three who are infected with Covid-19 have no symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it.  These rapid (lateral flow) tests, which provide results within the hour, will help break the chains of transmission.  Further information can be found here, including local participating pharmacies offering this test and mass testing sites including Redditch Town Hall.  The Ryland Centre in Bromsgrove will be another site added shortly.  Information on all testing available, including how to book a test if you DO have symptoms, can be found here

COVID Vaccinations

Please help ensure everyone in the top 4 priority groups in our community has access to a vaccination and has not been missed.

Anyone 70 or over OR anyone who has previously received a letter saying that they are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable) who has not yet received a vaccination can now choose to:
1. Book their own vaccination at one of the Vaccination Centres (e.g. Artrix in Bromsgrove or Knights Pharmacy in Redditch) without waiting for an invite letter from the NHS by going online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by telephoning 119; OR

2. If they prefer, they can still wait to be contacted by their GP to attend at their local GP led vaccination service.

Please Note: GPs have asked that you do not ring your GP practice about a vaccination (due to the sheer volume and that this prevents people with other illnesses getting through on the phonelines) and that you should use the booking system link above and the 119 number.

Can’t find your NHS number to book an appointment? Then use this link: www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/online-services/find-nhs-number/

Message from Dr. Kathryn Cobain, Director for Public Health in Worcestershire

“Dear Residents, I know that the news of a new lockdown for England, will be frustrating and upsetting for many people.

Worcestershire has tried very hard to keep Covid-19 cases down, and many of you have made sacrifices to protect yourselves and others. We have all had to make changes to the way we live our lives in recent months, and that included over Christmas, when so many were not able to spend time with loved ones. 

But some stark realities remain for us all. Worcestershire’s infection rates are at the highest we have ever seen. In the past 7 days alone, the county has 1,888 positive Covid-19 cases, which is more than all positive cases seen during May, June, July, August and September 2020 combined. I am concerned about this level of spread, and the risk it poses to our health and the lives of our vulnerable and elderly residents. We need to act now to protect one another, prevent the virus spreading further and reduce the demand on our hospitals. 

The pandemic continues to dominate our daily lives, cases are rising nationally and we know the new variant of Covid-19 spreads very quickly. Our NHS is also facing considerable pressure on its services. All of these factors have led to the government’s announcement of a new lockdown across England. This means once again, we are facing tough restrictions on our way of life. I know this is hard, but by doing as we are asked, we are saving lives. The restrictions have been brought in to protect every one of us. 

Please now stay at home, don’t go out unless you need to, for example to buy food or collect medicines. The Government has set out the clear limitations of the lockdown and I ask you to read the restrictions and follow the rules. You can read a full explanation of all the restrictions on the government’s website;

Once again, Worcestershire County Council’s Here2Help service is available to anyone who needs support or is clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding). If you have no-one to turn to for help, our service can respond and provide help such as collecting medicines and getting shopping. You can reach the Here2Help service online 

If you are on the Government’s shielding list, you will be receiving guidance about what to do now. It is key that you socially distance, and you reduce your physical contact with others. The governments webpages are updated regularly and you can read detailed guidance on shielding their website.

While we are all at home, please do remember to check on vulnerable or isolated residents. Just a phone call or a text message can provide a vital link to the outside world, and can ensure those who need comfort or help, have someone to turn to. 

You will know that a programme of vaccination has begun nationally, and we are already seeing Worcestershire residents receiving the first doses. This process is being co-ordinated by central Government, and following a strict order for administering the doses. Worcestershire County Council is supporting NHS colleagues to ensure the roll-out is progressing. The vaccines are safe, and if you are called forward to receive one, I strongly urge you to do so. In the meantime, please keep following the rules, wear face coverings, wash your hands, keep your distance. These simple measures help reduce the spread of the virus. 

We are all in this together. Throughout the pandemic, you have shown your resilience, kindness and compassion for others. We have seen many examples of people supporting one another, lending a hand or going the extra mile. The situation has demonstrated how working together, we are able to support one another and get through. I am asking you to do this once again. The single most important thing you can do for everyone, is to stay home. Please do this for yourself and for others. We all want to protect people who are precious to us, our family and friends. Let’s take care of each other, and work together. 

Thank you for doing this. Our actions now will hopefully bring brighter days for us all in 2021. 

Best wishes
Dr. Kathryn Cobain”

Winter Weather Advice

With snow still on the ground over some of our area and a possibility of more forecast over the next couple of days West Mercia Police are reminding motorists to take extra care on the roads. The Met Office has issued a yellow warning of snow, ice and freezing conditions throughout Wednesday and Thursday.

Motorists are being encouraged to really consider if their journey is necessary or not.  Driving in icy and snowy conditions is challenging for drivers as vehicle handling changes significantly and stopping times and distances increase. When roads are slippery, it can take up to ten times longer for your vehicle to come to a stop. 

If your journey really is necessary then ensure you reduce your speed, keep well back from the vehicle in front and allow plenty of time to slow down. Motorists are advised to carry out simple POWDERS checks on their vehicles to ensure they are as prepared as possible;

P – Petrol (or diesel). Make sure you check your fuel level and if low, ensure you know the nearest garage.

O – Oil. Does your vehicle have enough oil? Don’t just rely on a sensor to tell you if your oil is low, it’s always better to check yourself

W – Water. Coolant/antifreeze should be checked to ensure this is at the correct level. It is vital the washer fluid is full to keep your windscreen clear, especially during winter months

D – Damage. Always check areas like damage to tyres or windscreen wipers.

E – Electrics. Check your headlights, indicators and hazards.

R – Rubber. Checking the tread, pressure and condition of the vehicles tyres is a simple, quick thing to do.

– Service. Is your vehicle due a service?

Drivers are being reminded about the importance of carrying an emergency kit in their cars in case of a breakdown or delay. This should include items such as an ice-scraper, torch, warm clothes and a blanket, a pair of boots, a first aid kit, battery jump leads, a shovel for snow, food and drink and sunglasses to help see in low winter sun. Motorists are also advised to make sure their mobile phone is fully charged before heading off on a long journey and to watch or listen to local news for updates and be prepared to alter their travel plans.

Are you ready for winter?

As the nights get colder and darker, the chances of severe weather increase.

Storms, floods and other extreme conditions can cause damage to network infrastructure and disrupt your energy supply.

That’s why Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is reminding the public to be well prepared for power cuts and gas emergencies that may result from bad winter weather.

In recent years the chances of unplanned problems with electricity and gas supply have reduced dramatically, and network companies have invested £billions in improving the reliability of local energy networks in the UK.

As a result, on average, electricity and gas distribution customers hardly ever suffer a power cut or interrupted gas supply these days.

Despite this, however, our gas and electricity networks can be affected by natural events, with severe winter weather potentially causing significant damage.

So be Winter Ready for the 2020/21 winter.

Make sure you’re prepared in case you have a power cut or gas emergency.

To be well prepared:

  • know your free emergency numbers – in a power cut dial 105 or, for a gas emergency, dial 0800 111 999
  • prepare your home – keep a torch handy and get your appliances serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
  • find out about the Priority Services Register – a free service provided by suppliers and network operators to vulnerable households which can give advance notice of planned power cuts or priority support in an emergency, eg with cooking and heating facilities. (Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register – to get on it, contact your energy supplier or visit www.energynetworks.org to find out who your network operator is.
  • keep a regular check on the weather forecast

Emma Roberts, HWFRS Community Risk Manager, said: “The danger of fire is also at its greatest during autumn and winter – so we’re asking people to remember these simple safety tips as the bad weather approaches:

  • watch out for overloaded plug sockets – many people use four-way bar adaptors to allow them to plug in more appliances, particularly in older properties that have fewer sockets
  • make sure that any portable heaters are being used safely – they should not be used to dry or heat clothes and should not be left switched on and unattended
  • check that electric blankets are in good condition – and that manufacturers’ instructions are followed
  • position your candles carefully – make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture, bedding, books and newspapers, especially while the Christmas decorations are up
  • fit smoke alarms and test them regularly – working smoke alarms can buy you valuable time to Get out, Stay out and Call 999
  • make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if there is a fire – practise and memorise your escape route

Don’t delay contacting a GP if you have signs and symptoms of bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, more than 100 people are diagnosed with it everyday.

Bowel cancer is very treatable but the earlier it’s diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. People whose cancer is diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher chance of successful treatment than those whose cancer has become more widespread.

Patients can be assured that GP and hospital services in Herefordshire and Worcestershire have gone to great lengths to put infection prevention measures in place to ensure patients can safely access these services. Patients are reminded that the NHS is still here for them when they need it and to telephone their GP if they have signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

The early signs of bowel cancer can vary and are not very clear. However, they can include:

  • A change in bowel habit (diarrhoea or constipation) for more than two weeks
  • Bleeding from the back passage
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Lasting abdominal pain/unusual lump
  • A feeling of not having emptied your bowel properly after a bowel motion

Dr Alison Riley, Macmillan Cancer GP Facilitator for Worcestershire, said: “If you have any signs and symptoms, don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them. Doctors are used to seeing lots of people with bowel problems.

“If you notice a change in your bowel movement which isn’t normal for you or have a symptom that doesn’t settle it may be important to arrange further investigations to exclude serious problems such as cancer.

“The symptom might not be due to serious illness and your GP may be able to easily reassure you. If it is cancer or another serious problem, the earlier it’s picked up the higher the chance of successful treatment. 

“When you arrange an appointment with your GP they will initially telephone you to discuss the problem, and then bring you in to be examined or have blood tests if needed. If necessary they will refer you to the hospital.”

Patients are reminded that, while practices remain open, first contact should always be made by telephone or online, at which point the most appropriate appointment will be offered.

Wye Valley NHS Trust in Herefordshire and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust continue to investigate and treat patients referred by a GP with symptoms, such as those that may indicate a potential cancer.

More information on cancer signs and symptoms can be found here:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/symptoms/

Information and Advice for Older People

AGE UK offer a free and confidential information and advice service for older people, their families and carers. Our team can provide help in a variety ways including:

  • Providing Benefit Checks and help with claiming benefit entitlement
  • Checking if a person is eligible for a Warm Home Discount
  • Providing information about staying safe, warm and well during the winter

Read more CLICK HERE

Keeping in touch – It’s Good To Talk

As we enter the winter months, another lockdown and ongoing restrictions, it’s important to understand that increased loneliness and isolation makes us all, especially the elderly, susceptible to scams and poor mental wellbeing.

We encourage members of our community to reach out to friends, family and neighbours with a telephone call, letter, email or video call.  A friendly chat can make a huge difference to peoples’ wellbeing.

Now We’re Talking

The COVID19 outbreak is having an impact on everyone’s daily lives. It’s normal to experience increased levels of stress & anxiety.

Across Worcestershire residents of all ages can access 24/7 support to help improve your mental wellbeing. Talking might help check out http://nowweretalking.nhs.uk or call Worcestershire Healthy Minds 0300 302 1313.