North Lincolnshire GP encourages continued caution amid Omicron variant

Published on Dec 15, 2021

Dear residents,

Together, we face an extremely uncertain and challenging winter period.

You will be aware we have a new coronavirus variant, Omicron, which is already proving to be highly transmissible.  Nationally, there were around 1,000 detected cases of this new variant one week ago.  In a short space of time, this has soared rapidly, with Public Health officials estimating approximately 200,000 daily Omicron infections now, and it is thought that the virus is doubling every two days.  While we will learn more about the potential severity of Omicron over the coming days and weeks, we know that it is already causing hospitalisations here in the UK.  The UK’s chief medical officers have declared a Level 4 National Incident.

We need to be deeply concerned by Omicron but we also know a booster vaccine dramatically improves protection.

Our local NHS is working tirelessly to ensure every eligible adult over the age of 18 is offered a booster vaccination by 31 December, as outlined by the Prime Minister.

We have a number of vaccination options here in North Lincolnshire – including Scunthorpe Vaccination Centre, for pre-booked appointments.  Our General Practice teams are now working even more hours to vaccinate more people and this will continue over the Christmas and New Year period.  Please make sure you take up this vaccination offer to protect yourself and your loved ones.

I know the last two years have been incredibly difficult but I would really encourage continued caution.  Restrictions will be subject to change depending upon the changing situation, but, wherever possible, please do limit the number of people you mix with, wear facemasks, ensure good hand, cough and sneeze hygiene, and keep a healthy distance from each other.  And I must stress the importance of, not only regular lateral flow testing while not symptomatic, but the importance of isolating and immediately booking a PCR test if you do become symptomatic with a new cough, temperature or a change in smell or taste.

Winter is always our most pressured time in the NHS.  As well as the usual winter viruses, a backlog of care due to coronavirus, and now Omicron, on top of Delta to contend with, there is a real risk that our NHS will struggle this winter.  By minimising virus transmission, you lower the chance of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed – so our NHS is there to help, promptly, should you or your loved ones need it.

Thank you for being so supportive of our health messages over the last 12 months.  I firmly believe it is down to your caring and collective approach that our North Lincolnshire seven-day infection case rate remains lower than many other areas in our region and our vaccine booster uptake percentage has been higher than the England average.

Despite an acceleration of the vaccination effort, I want to remind everyone that our NHS is still very much here for you over the festive period.  Local pharmacies, 111 Online, NHS 111 and your General Practice teams are here to help.  If it is an emergency, then don’t hesitate to call 999.

Please be patient with our NHS staff, and be kind to them.  They have worked so very hard and have seen a lot of severe illness and death, including their own loved ones in some cases.  Many have not had a break for the best part of two years.

I can assure you our NHS teams will continue to do everything we can to be there for you should you need us.

Have a safe Christmas and wishing you a happy and healthy 2022.

Best wishes,

Dr Faisel Baig

 

Coronavirus guidance and support:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Book your vaccine:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/

Book a PCR test:

https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

Local vaccination updates:

https://northlincolnshireccg.nhs.uk/

Speak with a pharmacist online:

https://northlincspharmacies.nhs.uk/

If not sure which service to access:

https://111.nhs.uk/

North Lincolnshire GP urges patients to cancel appointments to help others

Published on Dec 08, 2021

Dr Satpal Shekhawat, Medical Director at NHS North Lincolnshire CCG, says patients who must miss an appointment should cancel as soon as possible, so this can then be offered to another patient.

It comes after figures for September and October reveal there were 6,350 primary care appointments across the region which were not attended – so were not available to other patients. This is equivalent to more than 500 hours of missed appointments in a month.

“Demand for our health services is higher than it has ever been,” said Dr Shekhawat. “GP practices have been working throughout the pandemic and continue to work extremely hard. In North Lincolnshire alone, we held more than 100,000 appointments in October  – with more than 70% of these being face to face with the patient. Despite this, demand is still high and we are therefore politely asking patients who book an appointment, and then for whatever reason cannot make it, to let their practice know as soon as possible so we can offer that slot to somebody else. Even if you decide not to attend on the morning of the appointment, please do contact your practice and let them know – they will still be able to open that appointment to someone who really needs it.

“The easiest way for people to do this is by downloading the NHS App if you have a smartphone. The app is extremely useful and not only is a patient easily able to cancel an appointment, they can order repeat prescriptions, get health advice and in some cases, book an appointment too.

“Your NHS is here for you so please do consider the health of others if you decide you no longer need to see your local GP or practice nurse.”

Figures also reveal more than 200,000 GP appointments took place in September and October with almost 145,000 of those being seen face to face. Almost 80,000 of the appointments were made on the same day the patient had contacted the practice.

“We continue to work tirelessly to give our patients the best possible care we can,” added Dr Shekhawat. “We are carrying out more appointments than we did pre-pandemic and, alongside that, continue to rollout the coronavirus and flu vaccination programmes at pace. So please be polite and respectful to our practice teams – we are all doing our very best to help you during extremely challenging times.”

The fight against new Covid-19 variant begins

Published on Dec 02, 2021

The first case of the multiple-mutated strain of the Coronavirus was announced in South Africa on Friday November 24. And the first cases in the UK were reported on Sunday November 27 in two people with links to travel to southern Africa. As of Tuesday November 30, there have been 22 cases of the Omicron variant in England and Scotland.

Dr Faisel Baig, Chair of NHS North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, has issued advice to people in north Lincolnshire in response to the Omicron variant.

He said:

“I can imagine many people are worried about what the new Omicron Covid variant will bring over the coming weeks.

“There remains much research to be done but early indications suggest this variant is more transmissible than previous and current strains.

“And this comes at a time when infection rates are already high both nationally and here in north Lincolnshire.

“In addition, winter has arrived and this is the most challenging season for illnesses and viruses spreading through families and communities.

“We’re at a critical and potentially dangerous point in our fight against coronavirus.”

Dr Baig strongly asks the public to abide by the Government’s new guidance.

He said:

“Please, I would urge everyone to abide with the Government’s new guidance around wearing face masks in shops and on public transport.

“This new variant is spreading throughout the world and, again in line with the latest Government guidance, I would encourage those who have been abroad to undergo a PCR test as per the guidance.

“It is also imperative people self-isolate if they have been in contact with somebody who has a suspected case of Omicron – even if you are double vaccinated.

“If you’re a parent of children at secondary school, please do encourage them to wear their masks in communal areas when they are there.

“As a local GP, and someone who cares deeply about the health of north Lincolnshire patients, I would personally urge extra caution when in crowded areas as well.

“It isn’t mandatory, but please do consider keeping your distance from others if you can.

“Let fresh air in if you meet people indoors – good ventilation is vital.

“Meet outdoors if you can. I know it’s cold now, but wrapping up warm and going for a walk with friends is a safer option.”

Dr Baig feels it is also important to get the vaccine as a means to fighting the Omicron variant.

He said:

“The other two messages I would stress are to come forward for the vaccine, whether it be the first, second, third or booster dose, and the importance of regular testing.

“Lateral flow tests are important to take regularly when you have no symptoms and booking a PCR test is the correct thing to do as soon as you have symptoms (high temperature, continuous cough and lack of taste or smell).

“The booster programme will be opened up to all those aged 18 and above amid the Omicron development.

“Please, when you receive your invite to book your booster, don’t hesitate in doing so.

“The vaccines have already saved thousands of lives in this country.

“If you haven’t had a single dose yet, now is the time to come forward to give yourself that protection.

“Covid-19 remains a serious health risk and we should all remain very cautious – especially during the winter months when our NHS is already under severe pressure and at least until we know more about this new variant.”

Dr Baig warns that the pandemic is far from over in north Lincolnshire.

He said:

“I see many patients every week and I know this is frustrating for so many of you. We all want life to return to normal as soon as possible.

“But the pandemic is far from over – especially for this winter at least.

“We must do all we can to stop the spread of this new variant in north Lincolnshire.

“We’ve already lost hundreds of lives to this virus in our area alone and we don’t want to lose any more.

“Many more have had their lives hindered by Long Covid – an illness which can have huge long term implications on somebody’s life.

“So please do take the above measures seriously and hopefully these smaller measures are enough to prevent greater action being taken over the festive period.

“Together, we will beat coronavirus.”

Thousands of people set to benefit as NHS lung health checks confirmed for North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire

Published on Dec 01, 2021

Past and current smokers in North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire will be invited to a NHS lung health check service in a drive to improve earlier diagnosis of lung cancer and save more lives.

NHS England and NHS Improvement has confirmed that North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire will be two of 43 places across the country to run NHS Targeted Lung Health Check programme.

Expected to start in Spring 2022, the initiative means approximately 45,000 past and current smokers, aged 55 to less than 75, in North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire will be invited to a lung health check by their GP. This will identify an estimated 440 cases of lung cancer earlier than otherwise would have been.

Those invited will have an initial phone assessment with a specially trained health care professional. If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they will be offered a low dose CT scan of the lungs for further investigation.

The scanner will be housed in a mobile unit and taken to convenient locations, such as supermarket or sport venue car parks, across North and North East Lincolnshire. Stop smoking advice will also be offered to support current smokers wanting to quit.

Lung cancer can often be caught too late as there are rarely symptoms at the earlier stages. The programme is designed to check those most at risk of developing lung cancer in order to spot signs earlier, at the stage when it’s much more treatable, ultimately saving more lives.

In January 2020, Hull became one of 10 initial lung health check pilot sites and has since welcomed over 5,000 participants to the service, with more than 2,500 of those receiving a CT scan. The service has helped to identify cancer at an early stage and provided opportunities for earlier treatment, which is helping to save people’s lives.

Dr Satpal Shekhawat, Medical Director at NHS North Lincolnshire CCG, said:

“Unfortunately, due to there being few to no symptoms at an early stage, lung cancer is regularly diagnosed late and currently causes more deaths than any other cancer within North and North East Lincolnshire, but if caught early, it’s much more treatable and the survival rate is much higher.

“Being able to offer lung health checks to those at higher risk of lung cancer, will provide an opportunity for more and earlier interventions, including curative surgery. The service will also help to improve our populations health by offering free stop smoking advice and support to current smokers.”

Dr Stuart Baugh, Clinical Director at Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance, said:

“Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance is pleased to have secured funding for the further roll out of Targeted Lung Health Checks across our region.

“The extension of lung health checks will play a key part in helping to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan ambition of diagnosing three out of four people with cancer at an early stage by 2028.

“We have already seen the positive impacts this service has for patients, since the first pilot site was launched in Hull in January 2020, and we look forward to working with our partners to extend the reach of this service from Spring 2022.”

For more information on the Targeted Lung Health Check programme please visit www.lunghealthcheck.org.uk.

Where you can access support ahead of World Mental Health Day

Published on Oct 07, 2021

Local health and care staff are supporting World Mental Health Day on Sunday October 10.

World Mental Health Day is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma of the conditions people face.

This year’s theme, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.

The pandemic has disjointed our lives over the past 18 months, and things have been tough on many people’s mental health.

Looking after yourself has never been more important.

Silent illnesses such as anxiety, depression, bipolar and stress can be overwhelming and the message is clear – if you are struggling, come forward and be heard.

It can be very challenging to make that first step, but it could change your life.

And NHS North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group says mental health is one of its top priorities.

Dr Faisel Baig, Chair at NHS NLCCG, said: “Parity of esteem describes the need to value mental health equally to physical health.

“People with mental health needs should have the same access to services and support as those with physical health needs.

“Mental health has been a top priority at NLCCG for a number of years.

“Increased presentations of depression and anxiety amongst our population emphasise how important it is that we collaboratively ensure the right support is available for everyone.

“Often, presentations are being linked with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has taken its toll on so many people’s lives over the last 18 months.

“We have a wide range of mental health support services in North Lincolnshire and I would urge those suffering to speak up and seek help.

“These services are designed to help people with all levels of mental health issues, of all ages, and of all backgrounds. Mental health does not discriminate.

“As a North Lincolnshire GP I would remind anyone who may be suffering with their mental health that you are not alone. Professionally trained experts are awaiting your call and ready to help. Please don’t suffer in silence.”

“Please visit NLCCG’s website here for a full list of mental health service support in North Lincolnshire.”

Dr Nav Ahluwalia, Medical Director for Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), said: “As we mark World Mental Health Day please remember that help is always available to support you at your time of mental health need.

“Mental health problems affect approximately one in four people in the UK each year.

“In England one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in any given week.

“So if you are suffering with your mental health, you are not alone and when you need mental health support please give our experts a call. They are there and waiting to help you.”

There is a range of local support people can access across North Lincolnshire including:

An update from General Practice

Published on Sep 23, 2021

During these difficult times, our North Lincolnshire General Practice teams are working non-stop, this is despite all the workforce shortages we are facing.  Practices across North Lincolnshire recorded nearly 95,000 appointments during June this year, almost twenty percent higher than the same time two years ago.  Over two-thirds of these appointments were face-to-face.  Our General Practice teams have also spearheaded a hugely successfully coronavirus vaccination programme which has meant we have all been able to return to some normality, and most importantly, many lives have been saved.  Our General Practice teams have not only continued to provide face-to-face consultations within practices but have also staffed other important services.  These include a Community Response Team providing Care Homes and Ambulance services with a rapid response, our local Urgent Treatment Centre and our GP Out of Hours Unit.

Are GP practices open?

GP practices across North Lincolnshire are open and have been throughout the pandemic. GP practices have worked hard to provide a service throughout lockdown and continue to do so. The pandemic is not over. To protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable, we must maintain safe infection control and minimise unnecessary physical contact within practices and that is why the physical environment will seem different to years gone by.

How are practices working now?

Most appointments are being triaged.  This helps keep people safe and makes sure that people are directed to the most appropriate healthcare professional, who may not always be a GP.  Everyone who needs to be seen will be seen, with the most urgent medical needs being addressed as a priority.

What is triage?

You will be assessed to ascertain the next step e.g. you may need:

  • to be seen in person
  • a phone consultation
  • a video consultation
  • help from a community pharmacy or another local healthcare team

Why do receptionists ask personal questions?

General Practice reception staff are a vital part of the healthcare team and ask questions in order to direct you to the most appropriate support.  They are skilled in assisting with triage and treat all information confidentially.

I wanted to see my GP, so why am I seeing someone else?

Many GP practices now include a range of professionals (e.g. advanced nurse practitioners) who can diagnose and treat health conditions and consulting them may be more appropriate for you. We want you to speak with the right person as quickly as possible and this may not always be via your usual GP practice.

Where else can I get help?

Visit www.nhs.uk for advice on common symptoms and a list of local services or speak to your community pharmacist first for advice on minor illnesses.  Finding your nearest pharmacy: www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-pharmacy/

What about emergencies?

Always dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency. If you need help with minor injuries at any time or urgent care when your GP practice or community pharmacy is closed, visit www.111.nhs.uk or dial 111 if you do not have internet access.

Please be patient

All our healthcare services are under enormous pressure, but we are open and here for you if needed. You can help us and help yourself by making sure you get the right care, in the right place, at the right time, appropriate for your needs.  Your GP practice website will provide lots of further information.

Please continue to be kind to our staff, socially distance where possible and wear a face mask in healthcare settings.

These are challenging times for all of us and your patience and support are highly appreciated by your General Practice teams.

Thank you

August Bank Holiday pharmacy opening times in North Lincolnshire

Published on Aug 26, 2021

Some pharmacies will be open on the upcoming August bank holiday.

Please see the table below for further details:

Rota/Specific Area Bank Holiday Day Date Name Address Postcode Opening Times
ScunthorpeSummerMonday 30/08/2021Lloyds
Pharmacy
Doncaster Road, ScunthorpeDN15 7DE10:00 – 16:00
Morrisons
Pharmacy
Lakeside Parkway, ScunthorpeDN16 3UA10:00 – 16:00
Tesco
Pharmacy
Gallagher Park, Doncaster Road, ScunthorpeDN15 8GR09:00 – 18:00

If symptoms suggest something is more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need – and signpost you to the correct healthcare professional.

As qualified healthcare professionals, pharmacists can offer clinical advice and over the counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses.

Contact a local pharmacy online about your minor health concerns

Published on Aug 09, 2021

Residents in North Lincolnshire experiencing minor illness or ailments, are being encouraged by their local NHS to speak directly to a community pharmacy online first.

The Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership is running a pilot project across North Lincolnshire initially, to trial online pharmacy consultations. The aim is to encourage patients and their carers to contact a pharmacy first using online consultations, before their GP, for conditions and enquiries that a pharmacy can help with.

Patients can visit northlincspharmacies.nhs.uk and search for their specific problem or medicine. The search results will display self-help material, and if further information is needed, the patient can:

  • Contact a local pharmacy directly online at a time to suit, without the need to attend in person.
  • Attach relevant photos if needed (for example for cuts, burns, acne and more). The pharmacy will respond and can advise online, or in person if they feel it’s necessary.

Pharmacies will be able to contact the patient online using secure online messaging or video consulting.

Paul Robinson, Chair of Community Pharmacy Humber said: “We’re excited to be piloting this online scheme in our local area and hope that our residents find that it’s useful and saves time. The pilot extends the normal pathways for patients to access advice about their healthcare needs from community pharmacy teams and it will be interesting to see how the public respond to online consultations in community pharmacy.”

Erica Ellerington, Head of Primary Care Transformation, NHS North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Online health care solutions have been vital throughout the pandemic to reduce the spread of the virus. The NHS is looking to continue with online solutions wherever possible. Providing support online from pharmacies is a fantastic next step for creating even more easily accessible local health care.”

As qualified healthcare professionals, pharmacy teams can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.

If symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure patients get the help they need. They will advise a patient if they need to see a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional.

For further information about this service, please speak to a local pharmacy or visit northlincspharmacies.nhs.uk.

Safety measures in GP surgeries

Published on Jul 19, 2021

Patients entering GP surgeries across the Humber are being reminded they should continue to wear a face mask and follow social distancing rules.

Covid restrictions will end in most settings in England from Monday, 19 July.

However, as infection rates rise significantly across the region, health bosses in the Humber are reiterating the message that both staff and patients must continue adhering to Public Health England’s infection, prevention and control guidelines to ensure optimum safety. As well as GP surgeries in North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire, these rules will apply across other health settings such as hospitals, pharmacies and dental practices.

Dr Faisel Baig, Chair of the NHS Humber Clinical and Professional Leaders Board, said: “COVID-19 is still very much with us.

“Both infection rates and hospital admissions are once again on the rise – with more than 50,000 new cases of the virus being reported each day in the UK. We have also seen sharp rises in each of the four areas of the Humber.

“The delta variant of the virus is highly transmissible and this is why we must continue to act cautiously to slow the spread. Health settings such as GP surgeries are a higher risk environment and it’s so important we all continue to wear a mask, remain socially distant and wash our hands regularly.

“I urge everyone to play their part and think of those more vulnerable than them when visiting their local GP surgery. Acting responsibly will undoubtedly save lives.”

The number of people getting vaccinated continues to rise across the Humber – with the vast majority of adults now having received at least a first dose of protection. A number of special pop-up vaccination clinics will take place across the region over the next fortnight as the local NHS aims to vaccinate as many Humber residents as it possibly can.

And Dr Baig is urging those who have not yet had the vaccination to do so soon: “We can be really proud of our vaccination uptake figures in the Humber,” he said. “I know many people are working hard to ensure a vaccine is as accessible as it can be for every single eligible person.

“Uptake is slightly less amongst our 18-39 year-olds and I would especially urge anyone in this age bracket to come forward and get their vaccination as soon as they can. Vaccinations really have broken the chain between contracting the virus and becoming seriously ill from it.”

For the latest details about walk-in centres or pop-up clinics in your area, please visit: www.northlincolnshireccg.nhs.uk; www.northeastlincolnshireccg.nhs.uk; www.hullccg.nhs.uk and www.eastridingofyorkshireccg.nhs.uk

North Lincolnshire continues to make good progress with vaccinations

Published on May 04, 2021

North Lincolnshire continues to make good progress vaccinating as many people as possible in our communities against coronavirus.

More than 2,000 flyers, detailing important coronavirus vaccination information, have been delivered across central Scunthorpe.

The multi-language leaflets were distributed across both Crosby and Town wards – where vaccination uptake has been high but where NHS North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group aims to increase figures even further.

CCG staff, members of Safecare Network (a federation of North Lincolnshire GPs) and community volunteers came together to spread the word that vaccines save lives.

Pop-up COVID vaccine clinics

Almost 70 coronavirus vaccinations were administered in a special ‘pop-up’ clinic at The Islamic Centre in Scunthorpe on Saturday 3rd April.

The initiative was organised by West Primary Care Network and NHS North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, in a bid to boost uptake in the area’s culturally diverse communities.

More than 90 per cent of all eligible adults over the age of 50, and those above the age of 18 with underlying health conditions, have now received their first dose in North Lincolnshire.

Sayful Ahmed, Imam, said: “We were delighted to get two local GPs into The Islamic Centre and vaccinate 68 people.

“The clinic followed a conversation during Friday prayer and we had the doctors come in to do an awareness session. It gathered really good interest so we worked together to organise a clinic.

“The more people we can get vaccinated the more people feel confident coming to the mosque. It gives everyone that reassurance.”

Dr Rumman Afsar and Dr Abdul Butt teamed up to deliver and administer the vaccines. Dr Afsar said: “Coming into a familiar setting for a community, that accessibility to healthcare is much easier and you find it helps break down any barriers there may be.

“This was a real team effort and I’d like to thank the community leaders who have made this possible. Hopefully we can do more of this moving forward.”

Dozens of North Lincolnshire’s Sikh community received the Covid-19 vaccination at Guru Nanak Gurudwara in Scunthorpe on Sunday 18th April.

Collaborative work between NHS North Lincolnshire CCG and Safecare Network saw a number of the area’s nurses and GPs attend the Temple in Frodingham Road to administer the life-saving jab.

Dr Satpal Shekhawat, Medical Director at NHS North Lincolnshire CCG, said: “Pop-up clinics like this can make a huge difference.

“Coronavirus does not discriminate and we won’t overcome this virus until we are all vaccinated. Working together like this, and bringing services into our communities where there has been slightly lower uptake so far, is really important.”

The CCG is now planning further pop-up clinics in specific communities. If you believe a pop-up vaccination clinic would be helpful in your area, please contact mark.williams21@nhs.net