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New blood test service going well

The local NHS CCG has issued the following news update following changes to their phlebotomy service intended to increase capacity from 2,900 to 4,600 tests per week:

New blood tests (phlebotomy) service working well, according to patients

Comments made by patients, on feedback forms and informally to staff show universal approval of the new expanded and more convenient service in NE Essex. The new service is provided by GP Primary Choice, a new organisation set up jointly by all the GP practices in our area. Around 11,500 blood tests have been carried out in May, but in a month with the full service now operating in all areas we expect that around 17,000 tests will be carried out. Comments on feedback forms include:

With three children would have found it difficult to go to a local hospital, as we live in a village.

One woman from Tiptree wrote:

Brilliant service, if I had to go to Colchester I would need to arrange child care and pay for car parking etc. Excellent service.

A woman from Colchester wrote:

Very positive change. Surgery is closer to home and offer an all-round excellent service.

Of feedback survey responses received so far, asked to rate their experience, 244 people said excellent; 53 good; 6 adequate, and no-one said poor or very poor. * Patients needing a blood test advised by their GP can have their blood taken at their own GP surgery, or by arrangement at any other GP surgery throughout the area. Surgeries normally do blood test five days a week, Mondays to Fridays (please check with staff for times) but of the 40 local GP practices, 1 offers tests 4 days a week and 2 practices offer tests on 3 days per week. Dr Andrew Lennard-Jones, the Medical Director of GP Primary Choice said:

We have only been running these new services for a few weeks, but already patients are telling us this is much better. Blood tests, taken promptly, are a key tool for diagnosing and treating peoples’ health conditions, and when you consider that there are around 240,000 tests carried out each year in just Colchester and Tendring, then these tests have a major effect on health in the area. We will keep learning from how these services are used, and what patients tell us, so that we can use that experience in designing other health service improvements in future.

Tests are now more conveniently available for GP-referred patients on the Clacton Hospital site in the Reckitts Lodge building, where blood tests are available from Monday to Friday between 8am and 2pm. This service is provided mainly for patients of East Lynne surgery, though patients from other surgeries can make an appointment or just walk in if that is more convenient. The maximum wait that patients are seeing there is about ten minutes, less for booked appointments. This compares favourably with the queueing that used to sometimes take much longer at the hospital before tests were available at all GP surgeries. For patients at St. James surgery, there is a service provided at Old Road Surgery in Clacton, where again appointments can be made, or patients can walk in. There is a free car park there, and as everywhere this service is available for patients from any other surgery. (Old Road Surgery’s own staff do the tests for their patients). For patients who might need to have a test early in the morning, perhaps because of work commitments, they can book an appointment or walk in at the Mayflower Centre at Harwich (Fryatt) Hospital from 7:00am on Wednesdays and 7:45am 4 days a week, or in Colchester attend the Walk-in Centre in Turner Road from 7am, 5 days a week. Walk in clinics are also being offered at the following GP Practices: Ambrose Avenue 9:30 till 1pm, Tollgate 9:30 till 1pm, Tiptree 8:00 till 10am and Winstree (formerly Stanway) 8:00 till 12pm. Dr Hasan Chowhan, clinical lead for the CCG, said:

I am delighted that patients are so pleased, particularly with the convenience of the expanded service. I am greatly encouraged at this key example of GPs and all staff at Practices working together to make improvements for patients. It won’t be as easy as that in all our local health services, but it is a powerful example of what can be done together.


NHS England’s Commitment to Carers

The NHS in England has released news of how it will support carers in future.  

The new chief executive of NHS England has paid tribute to carers for their “immense contribution” as he pledged to do more to help them.

Simon Stevens launched NHS England’s Commitment to Carers to coincide with the Carers UK State of Caring Conference in London, which sets out how NHS England aims to help carers to provide better care and to stay well themselves.

With around 5.4 million carers in England alone they are an important asset to the NHS, as well as those that they care for. 

However, too often carers do not receive the recognition and support that they need and deserve from the NHS. The NHS has recognized that it needs to do more to help identify, support and recognise their vital roles. Helping carers to provide better care and to stay well themselves will contribute to better lives for those needing care and more effective use of NHS resources.

NHS England has developed 37 distinct commitments grouped within 8 priority areas as follows:

  1. Raising the profile of carers;
  2. Education, training and information;
  3. Service development;
  4. Person-centred, well-coordinated care;
  5. Primary care;
  6. Commissioning support;
  7. Partnership links; and
  8. NHS England as an employer.

To find out more about this programme either download the launch document (link in quote above) or visit the NHS Improving Quality website where the latest information can be found.


Local NHS Hearing Aid service gets better

Locally NE Essex NHS will be introducing a new Hearing Aid service with shorter waiting times and more local access for people over 50 sufferinggradual hearing loss.

From June 2nd people in Tendring and Colchester will be able to get their assessment and, if needed, hearing aids fitted in less time as a “one stop” service.  At the moment patients sometimes have to wait for several weeks for appointments due to increasing demand and have to come in to Colchester Hospital.

New hearing (audiology) patients will be referred by their GP to the new NHS Community Audiology Service where they can go to clinics at surgeries and clinics locally (see list below). Patients will be assessed for the degree and nature of any hearing loss, and they can then have state-of-the-art free hearing aids fitted there and then if they wish. Those patients already being treated through the Hospital will continue their treatment there, but only new patients who are not medically suitable for the community services will in future be referred to the Hospital.

Dr. Sonica Goel, clinical lead for the project at NE Essex CCG, said: “This new service is a significant improvement for audiology patients now and in future. It costs the NHS roughly the same as the current service, but will offer faster, more responsive and convenient services for patients. It is part of the CCG’s overall approach – getting as much treatment “closer to home” for people as possible, and so freeing up the Hospital to do more of what has to be done in a high-tech acute hospital. All the hearing aids are the best in the business, and of course because this is an NHS service, they are all free to the patient.”

The new North East Essex new NHS Community Audiology Service will be run by GP Care and Scrivens Hearing Care and is now accepting GP referrals. Patients can choose between the two providers, each of whom offers a choice of clinics at several locations:

GP Care UK

Telephone Number: 0800 088 3104 Email Address: [antibot mailto=”[email protected]”]


  • Abbey Field Medical Centre, Colchester
  • Bluebell Surgery, Colchester
  • Castle Gardens Medical Centre, Colchester
  • Creffield Medical Centre, Colchester
  • Shrub End Surgery, Colchester
  • Crusader Surgery, Clacton, Tendring
  • CVS Tendring, Clacton, Tendring
  • Great Bentley Surgery, Tendring

Scrivens Ltd

Telephone Number: 0800 085 0372 Email Address: [antibot mailto=”[email protected]”]


  • Direkt Optik, Colchester
  • Highwoods Square, Colchester
  • Mill Road Surgery, Colchester
  • Wimpole Surgery, Colchester
  • Dedham Vale Community Health Centre, Colchester
  • Rayner Opticians, Harwich

NHS NE Essex Care Strategy

ne-essex-ccgThe NE Essex CCG have recently published a new strategy for caring for adults, their families and carers who are facing conditions with limited life expectancy.  This is part of a whole series of initiatives designed to customise NHS Service Provision for NE Essex’s needs – more can be found on their website at

Part of the introduction of this end-of-life strategy document makes clear its objectives:

This document is a 5 year strategy detailing the future commissioning of end of life services across the health and social care economy. The document identifies the importance of raising the profile of achieving ‘a good death’ and putting mechanisms in place to achieve this.

The Department of Health End of Life Care Strategy acknowledges that there are many challenges to be overcome to ensure that everyone attains ‘a ‘good death’ irrespective of their background. The focus for the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group End of Life Strategy is to ensure that all patients achieve ‘a good death’ and their families and carers feel supported.

The full document can be downloaded here – NE Essex CCG End of life strategy 2014.


East of England Ambulance Request

nhs-ambulance-feedbackThe East of England AMbulance Service are inviting feedback, if you have any comments (good or bad) to offer them, for example, on subjects such as:

  • Staff attitude,
  • Accidents,
  • Waiting times,
  • Damage to property.

Then either

Phone : 0800 028 3382

Email : [email protected]

Write : Patient Services Team, East of England Ambulance Service, Bedford Office,
Hammond Road, Bedford, MK41 0RG



NHS with Macmillan announce new cancer support

We Are Macmillan Cancer SupportNew, improved self-management scheme launched for cancer survivors

The NHS in North East Essex, in partnership with Macmillan cancer charity, is launching a pioneering new service on the 1st April to better support survivors of cancer. It has been designed with the active involvement of patients from the cancer service user-groups.

This new scheme is designed to take some of the national ideas and build a new local service to better support people to manage their own medical and wider recovery process.

For those who have survived breast or colorectal cancers

The scheme is specifically for those who have survived breast or colorectal cancers and who are now judged as at lower-risk of relapse, with the intention to learn from this to potentially expand the service to survivors of certain other cancers. Higher-risk patients, such as those who have suffered from aggressive forms of the disease, will continue to need and get a different, more medically intensive follow-up programme.

Dr Linda Mahon-Daly, a GP at Shrub End in Colchester, leading the collaboration with Macmillan, said:

We will be providing an improved service for patients ensuring that every patient has real, continuing practical and moral support. National research and planning is all pointing towards similar services, but we are making it work practically for these patients, who often face very challenging circumstances. There is also the benefit of freeing up hospital doctors’ time, allowing them to deliver more services.

Many people, once their treatment is successfully concluded for these cancers, can find themselves without effective follow-up support. There are about 200 new lower-risk patients each year in NE Essex for each of these cancers. Under the new scheme, they and their families will be invited to attend a workshop specific to their type of cancer, which will help them understand and prepare for problems they may face, for instance certain physical side-effects that may follow. Patients will then be discharged from routine outpatient appointments; they will be assigned a Macmillan “buddy”, a trained volunteer with experience and interest in this type of cancer.

There will be a clear, rapid procedure to get the patient back under consultant care if needed and patients will still be able to contact their clinical nurse specialist (CNS) for advice on medical problems.

Michelle Bath, Macmillan Development Manager for Essex, said:

Following active treatment many patients tell us they feel alone and try to ‘get back to normal’ but their cancer experience has had such a big impact that they’re no longer sure what their ‘normal’ is. By training volunteer buddies we are aiming to give patients a support network and somebody to speak to about their concerns. This will give patients a listening ear that isn’t a member of their medical team but they will know how to access medical support if they suspect a change or recurrence of their cancer.

Clinically proven effective follow-up medical investigations, such as regular colonoscopy and mammography will still be carried out, as at present, to ensure that any problems are found and dealt with quickly.

Donna Booton, Matron for Cancer Services at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said:

This is an exceptional scheme for the patients of North East Essex. It will reduce their fears and give them the support and knowledge they have not received before in order to be able to move on with their lives. This is also an example of excellent collaborative involving Colchester Hospital Trust, North East Essex Clinical Commissioning and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The volunteer buddies are initially funded and trained by Macmillan offering patients their wide experience, good information and non-medical advice. Perhaps crucially they will offer support for the patient, if needed, with re-building life routines, such as finding a job and other services. Patients will know they have continuing support and quick, easy access to further help as needed. Each patient will get the support they need as an individual, rather than the current system of routine out-patient appointments at hospital for everyone.

Dr Shane Gordon, Clinical Chief Officer at NE Essex CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) said:

This is a brilliant scheme; it will directly support many cancer survivors to rebuild their lives successfully. It is an excellent collaboration between Macmillan and the NHS which meets the support needs of patients at any time and links effectively with professional clinical services.

A lot of work has been done in the NHS nationally to understand why so many people who have been successfully treated for cancer, don’t feel they get effective follow-up support. There is good evidence too that the current routine follow-up appointments are not the most effective way of picking up any symptoms of recurrence of the disease, but patients do need help with any side-effects of treatment and sometimes with re-building their lives after treatment.

There will be an ongoing series of general cancer workshops, run and funded by Macmillan, on topics such as finance, diet and exercise and sexual health, which will be available to all cancer patients. Pilot workshops will be held and then evaluated, with the patient groups defining the feedback questionnaire which will be used.


NHS Personal Health Budgets

NHS NE Essex Clinical Commissioning GroupNHS North East Essex CCG introduces personal health budgets for local people

People in Colchester and Tendring who get funding from the NHS for their continuing healthcare will now have a greater say in how that money is spent.

From tomorrow (1 April 2014), everyone eligible for on-going treatment and support for a complex medical condition has the right to ask for a personal health budget. That includes the option of asking for direct payments to be made to them, or to someone who looks after them.  Then, with the help of local NHS professionals in putting together an individual care plan, each person can choose how to use their allocated budget for a tailored package of health services.

Each patient will be able to get a range of help that is appropriate to them and their condition – such as clinical treatments, therapies, personal care and equipment – from NHS, private and voluntary sector providers.  Or the personal healthcare budget can carry on funding the healthcare and support that is already working well for them, if they don’t want to make changes.

“Personal budgets are not entirely new. Some people already have the benefit of direct payments for social care, and continuing healthcare is the right place to start with personal health budgets. It is one of the few areas where the NHS commissions healthcare person-by-person,” said Lisa Llewellyn, Director of Nursing and Clinical Quality at NE Essex CCG. “We have learned from pilots across the UK that personal health budgets give patients greater involvement in planning their care, and greater choice, flexibility and control. So they can then buy services they know will best improve their health and wellbeing, and that are right for them and their families.”

NHS organisations in Essex are working in partnership with ecdp, an organisation run by and for disabled people, to help introduce the new approach. edcp has a pioneering track record in supporting disabled people at local, regional and national levels and has worked with a number of local authorities to help people to manage direct payments.

Mike Adams, chief executive of ecdp, said: “Along with the NHS, we recognise that the individual is the expert in how a health condition affects his or her life. Personal health budgets offer the opportunity for people to work in partnership with the NHS on how their health needs can best be met. Many people have said that being fully involved in discussions and decisions with their healthcare professionals is the right thing and will make them more positive about the care and support they receive, and better in control of their quality of life. The benefits seemed to be felt more strongly by people with the highest health needs.

Mike added: “You can manage the care and support you choose in different ways, ranging from doing this yourself through to getting help from another person, or from an organisation like ecdp to implement what’s in your care plan on your behalf.  You can review and update your choices with your local NHS team when you need to, for example if your health changes or something in your plan isn’t working for you. You can also continue to receive the support in the same way as now if that is your preference.”

People who want to consider whether a personal health budget might be right for them should speak to their healthcare professionals – GP or practice nurse, district nurse or a member of their Continuing Care Team. There is also more information about personal health budgets on the NHS Choices website at


Radiotherapy – Have Your Say

We have been asked to circulate the following:

Proposed expansion of services to provide radiotherapy in Essex

I am writing on behalf of the primary care trusts in the Essex Cancer Network to invite feedback on current proposals to expand radiotherapy in Essex. The attached discussion document explains the proposals and a feedback form is also attached for your written views. You can submit your views online, if you prefer, by using the following link:

Within the document attached, you will find further details on how to have your say including dates and venues of drop-in sessions and discussion workshops being held in Basildon, Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend-on-Sea. Contact details are included should you wish to arrange a separate meeting for your group or organisation.

The PCTs wish to consider the proposals for expansion with full knowledge of the views of local people. We have distributed the discussion document and feedback form to a wide range of people. Please could you help us to reach as many people as possible by distributing to others in your organisation and to anyone who would be interested in taking part in this discussion.

We look forward to listening to your views.

Yours sincerely 
Sheila Bremner 
Chief Executive, north Essex PCT cluster and Chair of the Essex Cancer Network 
On behalf of NHS Mid Essex, NHS North East Essex, NHS South East Essex and NHS South West Essex