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NHS warning to seek help for cancer symptoms, as half of the public report concerns with getting checked

NHS warning to seek help for cancer symptoms, as half of the public report concerns with getting checked

England’s top cancer doctor has urged people not to hesitate to get checked as new research revealed that nearly half of the public have concerns about seeking help during the coronavirus pandemic.

One in 10 people would not contact their GP even if they had a lump or a new mole which did not go away after a week, the survey found.

Another third of people would worry about seeking help, according to polling carried out by Portland.

Getting coronavirus or giving it to their family were among the top reasons that people would not come forward when they have cancer symptoms along with fears that they could be a burden to the health service.

Professor Peter Johnson, the NHS clinical director for cancer, stressed that NHS staff had worked hard to make sure people can get cancer checks and treatment safely so there is no need to delay.

Waiting to get help could have serious consequences for patients and put a greater burden on the NHS, Prof Johnson said.

Online consultations mean people do not necessarily need to go to GP surgeries for check-ups while COVID-free cancer hubs have been set up to provide surgery along with independent sector hospitals who have signed an unprecedented deal with the NHS. 

Virus protected hubs are up and running in 19 areas of the country to date so people can have their operation safely with thousands of patients already having treatment through a hub.

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer, said: “NHS staff have made huge efforts to deal with coronavirus but they are also working hard to ensure that patients can safely access essential services such as cancer checks and urgent surgery.

“From online consultations to the roll-out of cancer treatment hubs we are doing all we can to make sure patients receive the life-saving care that they need.

“The wishes of patients and their families will always come first, and we have to make sure that people feel safe coming to hospitals, but my message is clear: people should seek help as they always would.

“We know that finding cancer early gives us the best chance to cure it, and ignoring potential problems can have serious consequences now or in the future.”

Prof Johnson’s call follows sharp drop in cancer referrals as patients are not contacting their GP for health advice.

A major public information campaign launched last week to encourage people to contact their GP or 111 if they have urgent care needs and to attend hospital if they are told they should.

Cancers are detected earlier and lives are saved if more people referred for investigation for checks.

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Macmillan wholeheartedly welcomes this NHS campaign encouraging people to contact their GP if they are experiencing the signs of cancer. We know that people are worried about the risk of infection from coronavirus and the pressure the NHS is already under.

“We urge you not to put it off, and don’t think you’re not a priority during coronavirus. Safeguard your own health and get any concerns checked out. Not diagnosing and treating many cancers fast makes treatment harder and can reduce the chance of survival.”

Natalie Haskell, CEO of Breast Cancer Charity CoppaFeel! said: "We know despite coronavirus, breast cancer remains the most common cancer in the UK and many people will be worrying about changes to their breasts during this period. At CoppaFeel! we are dedicated to educating people about the importance of checking themselves and presenting early to the GP if they notice any unusual, persistent change. Breast cancer is very treatable if found early and we urge people to listen to the NHS and continue to seek out their GP as normal if they are concerned about symptoms."

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “It’s understandable that people might be worried about leaving their home during the pandemic or think the NHS is too busy, but you should still contact your doctor if you’re worried about signs and symptoms or notice a change that isn't normal for you. If you’re reluctant to visit your GP in person, you can contact them for a virtual appointment. In most cases it won’t be cancer, but let your doctor decide as then your case will be tracked and if you do receive a cancer diagnosis, then you will receive treatment as soon as it’s safe to go ahead.

“The earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it is treatment will be successful and the higher the chance of survival. So even in these stressful times it’s vital people don’t delay seeking help with cancer symptoms.”

Jane Lyons, CEO of Cancer52 said: “It’s so important that people who think they might have a cancer symptom get in touch with their GP.  Putting off getting in touch won’t be helpful in the long run so please do take that first step. It is important to remember that most of the time symptoms that could be cancer don’t turn out to be cancer, and if they are, the sooner you get some help the better.”

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive of Blood Cancer UK, said: “The earlier blood cancer is diagnosed the better. If you’re worried about symptoms which could be blood cancer, such as unexplained weight loss, bruising or bleeding, then get in touch with your GP. The NHS wants to help you. Let them.”

Richard Davidson, Chief Executive of national bone and soft tissue cancer charity Sarcoma UK, says: “Cancers of any kind don’t stop simply because we’re in the midst of a pandemic, and for those less common cancers where symptoms might be vague, or where they can develop in any part of the body like sarcoma, it makes it even more essential to have any suspicious symptoms looked at as soon as possible.

“We need to make sure people still contact their GP if they are worried about cancer, and campaigns like this play a crucial role in making that happen.”

 

COVID-19 Mental Health campaign launched today: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge support new Every Mind Matters for looking after mental well-being

COVID-19 Mental Health campaign launched today: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge support new Every Mind Matters for looking after mental well-being

2020.04.17 Every Mind Matters Leaderboard

  • Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters website includes new NHS expert tips and advice on looking after mental wellbeing and supporting your family and loved ones during this time
  • Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have narrated a powerful new film in support of campaign and to encourage people to look after their mental and physical wellbeing
  • Every Mind Matters campaign will be supported through social media, digital, national TV and partner support activity, helping to reach the audiences most at-risk of poor mental health

Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters platform has launched new advice, focussed on looking after people’s mental wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It has been updated after new data shows over 4 in 5 (85.2% ) Brits are worried about the effect that coronavirus is having on their life, with over half (53.1%) saying it was affecting their well-being and nearly half (46.9%) reporting high levels of anxiety.

With many feeling worried, anxious or isolated during these challenging times, Every Mind Matters highlights that there are lots of things we can all do to look after our mental wellbeing and help others to prevent these concerns from becoming more serious.

The range of new resources, designed specifically to help manage our mental wellbeing during coronavirus, include a tailored COVID-19 Mind Plan, COVID-19 specific content for individuals and their loved ones, and support for specific mental wellbeing issues such as anxiety, stress, low mood and trouble sleeping. The website signposts people to activities such as mindful breathing exercises, help reframing unhelpful thoughts, and muscle relaxation.

To help get this vital message out there, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are supporting Every Mind Matters and have narrated a new short film which is set to be broadcast across national TV channels from Monday 20th April.

Everyone in the country has been affected by COVID-19 in some way, be it through staying at home and being separated from friends and family, uncertainty about work or education, or knowing someone with the virus. The film portrays a range of people whose lives have been affected by COVID19 and aims to reassure people that support is available and encourages everyone to take care of their mental wellbeing at this difficult time.

Alongside the new COVID-19 mental health support, Every Mind Matters encourages people to complete a personal ‘Mind Plan’, a quick and free interactive tool offering tailored mental well-being advice. More than 1.9 million ‘Mind Plans’ have been completed since the launch in October.

The NHS-endorsed content has been developed in partnership with clinicians, academics and leading mental health charities and social enterprises including Mind, Mental Health Foundation, Samaritans, Rethink, Mental Health First Aid England, and offers authoritative, evidence based and practical support to the general public, as well as people with specific mental health concerns.

NHS’s Top 5 Tips for maintaining mental wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak (please view all tips on the Every Mind Matters website)

  1. Talk about your worries: it is normal to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Maintain contact with friends and family via phone and video calls to share how you are feeling.
  2. Keep a regular routine and set goals: you may need to set a new routine for now. Try writing a plan for your day with the things you can still do at home, like watching a film, reading a book or completing a puzzle. Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose. Maintaining good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically too, so it's important to get enough (the Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep).
  3. Manage your media and information intake: if 24-hour news and constant social media updates are making you worried, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to coverage of the outbreak to once or twice a day.
  4. Do things you enjoy and try something new: focussing on your favourite hobby, learning something new, or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can help boost your mood. Look online for lots of free tutorials and courses.
  5. Look after your body: our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. At times like these it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly. You can leave your house, alone or with members of your household, for one form of exercise a day – like a walk, run or bike ride. But make you keep a safe 2-metre distance from others.

Professor Paul Cosford, Emeritus Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “During the coronavirus outbreak, it is natural for many of us to feel worried or anxious. There are things we can do to help ourselves and others, to prevent these feelings from becoming more serious. Every Mind Matters offers NHS-endorsed guidance on the simple actions we can take to maintain good mental wellbeing.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We have asked people to make unprecedented changes to their day-to-day lives as part of our national effort to respond to this global pandemic. Staying at home and not seeing friends and loved ones can take its toll and it is completely understandable to feel overwhelmed or anxious.

“It’s vital that we all look after our mental health in these challenging times, so today we are launching new guidance on the NHS Every Mind Matters website which is tailored to help people deal with this outbreak through practical tips and advice.

“Whether it’s through exercise, keeping to a routine, or trying something new – there is so much we can do to keep our minds healthy and prevent issues becoming more serious - and I’d encourage everyone to take advantage of this brilliant resource.”

Minister for Mental Health, Nadine Dorries said: “I know how scary a time this must be for many. We are all feeling something over Coronavirus – anxiety, fear of the unknown, or even just frustration at not being in control. It’s easy to forget that this is an unprecedented situation which is both physically and mentally draining.

“The new guidance that has been launched on the NHS Every Mind Matters website has been adapted, providing top tips for maintaining our mental well-being. We must all remember during these challenging times that while we are practicing social distancing for the physical health of ourselves and others, there is help out there to make sure we are taking care of ourselves mentally.”

Claire Murdoch, National Director for mental health and NHS England and Improvement, said: “At a time when as a country we face significant uncertainty which can be worrying and stressful, it has never been more important to keep well and look after our mental health.

“While we stay indoors to protect our loved ones and save lives, we must also think about ourselves and how we can protect our mental wellbeing which is why I am pleased Every Mind Matters reflects current pressures and am encouraging everyone who needs it to visit the website which includes advice on dealing with stress and anxiety.”

The campaign is backed by NHS psychiatrist, Dr Max Pemberton, who has shared his top tips for supporting mental wellbeing at this current time, including advice on managing your sleep and trying to stay positive.

For more information, search ‘Every Mind Matters’ or visit https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/ to create your personalised Mind Plan.

Local health services this Easter

Local health services this Easter

All GP practices across Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford will be operating normal opening hours on Good Friday and Easter Monday. You are able to contact your GP via telephone, however please do not attend your surgery in person unless your GP asks you to attend.

Your GP will be able to speak to you on the telephone or via video consultations to help patients stay safe. Your GP will advise you if they think there is a medical need for you to be seen face-to-face.

GP practices will be closed on Saturday 11 April and Easter Sunday.

NHS 111 online                                                                                               

If you have access to the internet then NHS 111 online is available 24 hours a day to support you.

If you think you have symptoms of Coronavirus do not visit the GP, pharmacy or hospital, please visit www.111.nhs.uk/covid-19 The NHS 111 phone service is currently experiencing huge volumes of calls. This will allow the NHS 111 service to help those who need them most.

If your Coronavirus symptoms worsen or you are unable to manage them at home, or you do not have access to the internet, please call NHS 111.

For the latest information and advice about Coronavirus visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Pharmacies                                                    

Local pharmacies will be open across the four-day Easter weekend, although opening times may vary. 

All pharmacies will be open as a minimum from 2pm until 5pm on Good Friday and Easter Monday with some pharmacies extending these hours. Pharmacies will open as normal on Saturday 11 April and a few will be open on Easter Sunday.

Please check this link for individual pharmacy opening times: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-pharmacy

 

 

Stay at home advice

The Government guidance is currently to stay at home and only leave the house for urgent medical needs, to go shopping, to exercise once a day or to pick up medication.

Keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus information on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Dr. Rob Gerlis, Chair of West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said:  

As everyone knows, the NHS is working tirelessly to keep people safe and well during the Coronavirus pandemic and will continue to do so over the Easter Bank Holidays.

“Residents can support us by following Government advice to stay and home and only leave the house to go shopping, for an urgent medical need or for exercise once a day.

“If anyone has an urgent medical need please follow the advice to visit www.111.nhs.uk, where there is also information on symptoms for Coronavirus and the guidance to follow.

“We hope everyone has a safe Easter break.”

Joining forces to get more paramedics on the road

Joining forces to get more paramedics on the road

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has joined forces with 16 Medical Regiment to boost the number of frontline staff available to provide life-saving care to patients in Essex.

The partnership will see paramedics and combat medical technicians deployed to work on ambulances alongside staff from EEAST, in turn helping increase capacity during the coronavirus pandemic while also giving the military medics a wider clinical experience.

All medics within the military must complete clinical placements with the NHS to maintain their qualifications, with 16 Med Regt personnel working at hospitals across Essex and Suffolk.

Last week, 15 personnel completed training to prepare them to work on ambulances, which covered vehicle and equipment familiarisation, advanced life support and dementia care. They are expected to take to the roads alongside EEAST staff this week.

The course was written and taught by Aaron Hill, a Senior Paramedic and Education and Training Officer with EEAST, and delivered at Colchester’s Merville Barracks.

Aaron said: “As an army reservist, I am extremely proud to design and deliver a bespoke course for our military counterparts. The Trust and wider NHS are understandably under extreme pressure at this time, and the clinical skill and experience provided by 16 Medical Regiment is invaluable to our service delivery.

“This is the first time a course of this nature has been delivered in the UK, and marks a start to a new working relationship between the NHS and military. The professionalism and clinical leadership demonstrated by all medics throughout the course has been excellent and I am confident this cohort will make a real difference, especially over the next few weeks when the NHS will face increasing pressure.’’

Mark Wibberley, a Recruitment Specialist with EEAST, said: “We are delighted to be joining forces with our military colleagues to increase the number of frontline staff available to help patients across Essex.

“We have worked hard to get this partnership up and running and look forward to continuing it long into the future. We will now explore whether we can replicate the scheme across the rest of our patch so that we can help our army colleagues to make the best possible use of their clinical skills while increasing the life-saving support we are able to provide to our patients.”

Similar relationships between NHS trusts and military medics are in place across the country, and are the foundations on which the military’s ability to support the NHS, such as tackling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, are built.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Sean Harpur, from 16 Medical Regiment, said: “We are really pleased that this important partnership has now got off the ground and look forward to it benefiting both EEAST, our medics and the public.

“Our staff are hugely experienced in providing first class trauma care through their work on deployments, but are not so familiar with looking after elderly patients and children. Spending time with EEAST’s crews will give them the opportunity to widen their scope of practice and further develop their other medical skills.

“We hope the partnership will give staff the opportunity to learn from and support each other, particularly as the country tackles the challenge of coronavirus, and will continue long into the future.”

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