Is it really an emergency?

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Remember, A&E is Accident and Emergency, not anything and everything.

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Around 11 per cent of people who attend A&E are sent home requiring no treatment. A further 38 per cent receive guidance or advice only* for minor conditions such as coughs, colds, muscular pain, minor wounds or allergies. These could have been managed safely and effectively at minor injuries, pharmacies or even self-care at home. NHS 111 is available for non-urgent medical advice.

More than 300 people attend A&E at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital every day. During the summer holidays, A&E can get busier. So it is important that people are aware of the alternative places where they can seek advice and treatment for their illness or injury.

Dr Vikram Bhat, local GP and Unplanned and Planned Care lead at Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “During the summer months extra people come in to our South Essex area to enjoy our beaches and holiday parks. To ensure that health provision remains adequate people should be aware of the alternatives. We want to encourage everyone to stop and think before going to A&E.

“A&E is there for life-threatening emergencies such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped and stroke. If it is not a serious medical emergency, A&E is not the right choice.”

Jane Foster-Taylor, Chief Nurse at NHS Thurrock CCG, said: “People attending A&E who could obtain care elsewhere put extra strain on both the department and the hospital as a whole. On many occasions it would have been better for the patient and the hospital if they sought treatment from a more appropriate service. Everyone should remember that NHS 111 is available for non-life threatening conditions and advice, and can book out of hours GP appointments and self-care advice.”

For moire information see our handy guide to help people navigate local health services and decide which service is best:

Where to go for care - healthcare guide

Acorns Dispersal - Patient Registration and Engagement Sessions

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Registration appointments at Oddfellows Hall Health Centre are being offered to patients registered at Acorns Surgery.

Patients at Acorns Surgery in Grays will have received a letter about the decision to close the surgery and ask patients to register at one of four surgeries in Grays. To help with the transition, Oddfellows Hall Health Centre (formerly the Shehadeh Medical Centre, Grays) is offering special registration sessions to support patients to register with their practice.

The ‘New Patient Registration and Engagement Sessions' will support patients in the registrations process with additional staff on hand to personally assist patients and give any necessary advice, signposting and assurances.

There will also be dedicated Nurse Clinic appointments for new patient health checks to ensure there is no break in repeat prescription needs.

Dates scheduled so far are as follows:

  • Tuesday 18th July - 16:00 to 20:00
  • Tuesday 25th July - 10:00 to 12 noon
  • Tuesday 1st August - 10:00 to 12 noon
  • Thursday 17th August - 16:00 to 20:00 – supporting patients with repeat prescription check ups

Music for the mind

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Patients Dennis Tilbury left and Norman Nye with Dr James Alegbeleye far right and Osler ward staff
Patients Dennis Tilbury (left) and Norman Nye, with Dr James Alegbeleye (far right) and Osler ward staff

Older patients have been enjoying music and poetry as part of a programme to improve their wellbeing.

The relaxed 20 minute sessions called music stimulation therapy (MST) have been taking place in the day room on Osler ward weekly. All patients who are mobile are invited to attend.

The idea came from Dr James Alegbeleye, consultant physician and geriatrician, and the senior nurse team on the ward.

Dr Alegbeleye said: “The sessions allow people to socialise and the feedback we’ve had so far is that patients feel it has greatly improved their experience and shows them that people care.”

Evidence from researchers at the University of California, showed how listening to slow classical music, affects cognitive function.

Patient Dennis Tilbury really enjoyed his first music therapy session. He said: “You would be surprised how much of healing effect music can have. It’s so refreshing to have something like this in a hospital.”

5 ways to look after yourself this summer

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See our tips for a number of common conditions you or your family might experience this summer.

Summer is the time for flip flops and fun in the sun, but the season can be blighted with minor health niggles. Here are some of the more common conditions and what you can do to stay well this summer.

1. Sprained your ankle and don’t know what to do?

You can self-care for it- apply ice, compression and take paracetamol and ibuprofen. Keep the ankle elevated and give it plenty of rest.

Alternatively if you are worried you may have done something more serious, minor injury units are a great way to get it checked over.

2. Hay fever got you sneezing?

The pharmacy can help. Antihistamine, nasal spray, eye drops. Everything you need they’ll have in stock. .

3. Your child has banged their head?

Sit them down, keep them calm and apply a cold compress to the affected area (frozen peas in a tea towel are good).

Keep an eye out for unconsciousness, repeated vomiting, fits or seizures, problems with senses such as double vision or hearing loss, blood or clear liquid coming from the ears or nose, and memory loss, as any of these may mean a more serious injury. If any of these occur, proceed straight to A&E.

4. Cut or burned yourself?

Minor cuts need to be washed with clean water. If there is any bleeding stop it before applying a plaster or dressing. If the bleeding can’t be controlled, or is coming in spurts (this might mean you’ve cut an artery) you should seek immediate medical assistance.

If you think the wound is infected or at risk of becoming infected, see your GP, particularly if it is a wound to the palm of the hand as infection can spread more quickly from here.

Burns should be put under cool or lukewarm water (never ice water) and remove any clothing or jewellery close to the burn. Do not remove anything that is stuck to it. Wrap it in clean cling film or a plastic bag to protect it.

If a burn is bigger than your hand, is deep, causes charred or white skin, causes blisters or is chemical or electrical, you should seek immediate medical attention.

5. Insect bites and stings?

Apply antiseptic to the area, apply something cool and take paracetamol or ibuprofen if it is particularly painful. For itching – ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter treatments, including crotamiton cream or lotion, hydrocortisone cream or ointment and antihistamine tablets.

Signs of infection such as pus, swollen glands or flu like symptoms, or you have signs of an allergy such as redness or swelling that is spreading you should seek assistance from your GP.

If you have difficulty breathing or swallowing, rapid or severe swelling to the face, mouth or throat; dizziness, fainting, nausea or vomiting you should call 999 or proceed straight to A&E.

Medicine Cabinet

It’s always useful to keep a well-stocked first aid kit to hand for any minor injuries, with plasters, dressings, a crepe bandage, safety pins and some antiseptic cream. This should also include sting/bite cream and antihistamine, scissors, painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen and sterile gloves.

Remember if you do need to see your GP, you can book online by signing up to GP Online Services. Take two forms of ID into your surgery and sign up there and then!

For more information visit 

Reaccreditation for emergency preparedness at Basildon Hospital

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Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been reaccredited for its emergency preparedness by the British Standards Institute (BSI).

The Trust had to demonstrate how its business continuity plans would ensure that it continues to provide patient care during an unexpected crisis or emergency. These might include a flu epidemic, a terrorist attack or a loss of power, telephone or IT systems.

The importance of such plans was highlighted recently during the cyber-attack, during which the IT department at the Trust immediately shut down certain systems to protect data, when the attack came to light.

Mandy Brokenshow, emergency planning liaison officer, explains:
“The Trust takes its responsibilities very seriously. We invest considerable time and money to ensure that we have the knowledge and the plans in place to continue to provide patient care and services in emergency situations.

“This was perfectly demonstrated during the recent cyber-attack, when robust and resilient business continuity plans and processes in place across the Trust came to the fore. It was also reflected in our quick recovery from the incident and return to business as usual.”

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital was the first acute hospital in the country to be awarded a kite mark by the BSI in 2012 for its business continuity plans. The BSI ISO 22301 accreditation is one of the most highly regarded symbols of quality and integrity and the Trust gets audited annually to ensure continued compliance.

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