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Local Health Forums

The Health Forum

The NEE Health Forum is a largely enthusiastic and committed body of people who are interested in health matters.  They are all people who have registered as public members of North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group.

The Health Forum is not formally part of the Clinical Commissioning Group, but members of the Health Forum Committee are invited to be part of all decision-making meetings within the CCG so that they can obtain and reflect the views of people from North East Essex to the group in a timely way.  The Clinical Commissioning Group wants the Health Forum to be as inclusive as possible, and so the criteria for eligibility are very broad.  There is more detail on the Join the Health Forum page of their website.

Members of the Health Forum are able to vote for the Health Forum Committee.  The Health Forum Committee has a number of sub-groups which are looking at specific health related issues.  The Health Forum does not have any legal powers, but has been given local powers by the CCG.  It works very closely with Essex HealthWatch, who do have legal powers.

Their important reports, including local Health Forum meeting dates, agendas and minutes and similar material relating to the Health Forum Committee can be found on their site in the Library.

Get Involved at Local Health Forums

The Health Forum holds local meetings which any public member of the CCG  can attend, regardless of where they live.  The 3 local meetings are held at Colchester; Harwich; (rest of) Tendring – this is usually held in Clacton.  

The next meetings are being held on 2nd, 3rd & 4th February (2pm – 4pm) respectively.  The agenda vary slightly both from meeting to meeting but also by location, but will typically include items such as those due to be discussed in the February meetings:

  • NE Essex Community Pharmacy Scheme
  • CHUFT Cancer Services (Clacton & Harwich only)
  • Borough GP Care Advisory Service (Colchester only)
  • Carer Strategy Consultation
  • General Q&A

These meetings give Health Forum members a chance to receive presentations and ask questions relating to key health care issues and services in their area.  They are also to raise concerns with the NEE CCG staff directly and Health Forum Committee members.

The Agendas for the local meetings are set by the Health Forum Committee who request speakers on the subjects they believe local people want to hear more about.  The CCG supports the Health Forum Committee by finding suitable speakers and health professionals that are in a position to answer relevant questions.

All three local meetings are usually held within a week of each other and they occur bi-monthly (every other month).  The dates of future meetings can be found on their events page

The agendas and minutes of the Local Engagement forum are published in their Library under Health Forum.

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Antibiotics Crisis

ne-essex-ccgMany may have heard about super-resistant bugs able to thrive despite antibiotics, the NE Essex CCG has issued advice that will help reduce the problem.

Antibiotics crisis – we can all do our bit locally

Patients and doctors together can help keep antibiotics effective.  NHS NE Essex CCG is asking both doctors and patients to support each other locally to do our bit in the battle to keep antibiotics effective for us. The prime minister said:

If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again.

Dr Hasan Chowhan, clinical lead in this area for the CCG said:

bacteriaWe have known about the growth of resistance for some years, but it is getting rapidly worse.  Research continues to look for more antibiotics to counteract bacteria that cause serious diseases in humans, but many bacteria are becoming more resistant to medicines currently available.  What this means is that now around 5,000 people a year in Britain die because of antibiotic-resistant infection.  If current trends continue, major life-saving surgery will become extremely risky, as post-operative infections may not be treatable.  Even smaller, less serious operations of all types will become hazardous, as the risk of serious, even fatal illness from resulting infections will be too high.  This is a major problem facing all of us and our families.  The prime minister and the Chief Medical Officer are absolutely right to sound the alarm.

Dr Chowhan is calling on local doctors and patients to support each other:

We know that in too many cases locally, doctors prescribe antibiotics for patients when it is very unlikely they will do any good.  Coughs, colds and various other usually minor illnesses caused by viruses cannot be cured or even helped by antibiotics.  Indeed often antibiotics will cause other problems for the patient, such as very unpleasant digestive disorders, because the antibiotics kill the stomach and intestinal bacteria that manage our normal digestion.

Doctors can sometimes play it “safe” by prescribing just in case the patient might be aggrieved and complain if they didn’t.  Sometimes the patient will insist on getting “some pills” or “some antibiotics” as they are sure that will hasten their recovery.  Dr Chowhan and his colleagues in the NHS are appealing to patients to listen carefully to the doctor, and not to insist on antibiotics when it has been explained that these may not help, and may indeed produce harm.  The CCG is working with local doctors to support them to understand where unnecessary prescribing is happening and to reduce it.  We know from the recent “Big Care Debate” that local people in general strongly support any reduction of waste in the NHS. When people take antibiotics that are not necessary, bacteria present can develop resistance.  The more antibiotics that are taken by more people, the more resistance develops and can then spread to others, so that the patient concerned and perhaps other contacts develop resistant bacteria.  The end result being that the next time they are treated, the antibiotics don’t work.  Over-use in farm animals and lax regulation in some other parts of the world are also known contributors to the problem. Dr Chowhan concluded:

This is one problem where each and every patient, as well as our doctors and nurses and pharmacists, can make a real contribution to the safety and effectiveness of our medicines now and for our families in the future.  The government’s review is good news, but we don’t have to wait for that, we can do our bit now.

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Best place to have a stroke

The local NHS CCG has issued the following news update reporting on the success rate of Colchester General Hospital, which has one of the largest stroke units in the East of England, with stroke patients, admitting over 70% of patients within 4 hours compared to the national average of below 60%:

Local stroke patients get best care in country, latest figures show

The quality of stroke care coordinated locally by Colchester Hospital is again in the top two hospital trusts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). This makes us the best over the last six months, nowhere else having been in the top two consistently. The RCP clinical audit of stroke patients who were admitted to hospital in the three months from October last year shows Colchester was the second best-performing out of the 175 hospital trusts that admit stroke patients directly for acute stroke care. Dr Shane Gordon, Clinical Chief Officer at NHS NE Essex CCG said:

This result is a credit to several organisations, including voluntary organisations who work together to provide not only emergency and acute care at the hospital, but also vital recovery care in the community when patients are safe to leave the hospital. Specially-trained nurses from ACE, the NHS community organisation, help patients to recover as much function as they can in the days, weeks and months after a stroke.

The figures show that whereas on average nationally 58% of people who have had a stroke were admitted to a stroke unit within four hours, in NE Essex it is over 70%.  Perhaps most remarkable is that locally over three-quarters of people are helped by the dedicated Early Discharge Team to get quick, dedicated support to go home or to rehabilitation out of the acute hospital, whereas nationally on average just one quarter of patients are helped in this way. Dr Gordon added:

These figures are the results of a shared determination to get higher standards of care for our patients resulting in less death, disability and better quality of life. But we are very far from having a perfect service, there is much more we can do together to give stroke patients here even better treatment and recovery. Rapid and thorough treatment and recovery for patients can make all the difference to otherwise more serious outcomes for patients and families.

Recently published by the RCP, the audit was welcomed by Dr Ramachandran Sivakumar, consultant stroke physician at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust and its clinical lead for stroke. He said the aim of the comparative information is to improve the quality of stroke care by auditing stroke services against evidence-based standards. Dr Sivakumar said:

Stroke care is very much teamwork and our success is down to a multidisciplinary approach that involves therapy staff, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and dietitians, besides doctors and nurses. While these figures show we are performing extremely strongly, we are certain we can do even better and that is what we are focusing on.

Moira Keating, nurse consultant for stroke services, said:

In my opinion, the entire Colchester stroke team takes ownership of each and every patient and pulls out all the stops to ensure that patients receive the best possible care and achieve their goals.

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