New kind or role in your GP practice

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Local residents to benefit from social prescriptions as new link workers join GP practices to improve local health and wellbeing.

People visit their GPs for a range of different reasons and sometimes these issues can be caused by non-medical matters such as loneliness, anxiety, unemployment, bereavement or other concerns.

Social Prescribing Link Workers, also known as a Social Prescribers, will soon be / or are already working in partnership with all GP practices locally and the voluntary sector to help people to access appropriate support in the community to help them make positive changes to their personal wellbeing. They are being introduced across GP practices as part of NHS Long term Plan ambition.

Social prescribing is targeted at a range of people, including those who are socially isolated and those with long term physical and/or mental health conditions. People will be encouraged to take control of their health and wellbeing through referral to non-medical ‘link workers’ who will focus on their health and wellbeing needs and prescribe individual solutions to support them to take back control. Emerging evidence suggests that social prescribing can improve people’s health and wellbeing and reduce workload for healthcare professionals and demand for secondary care services.

Often people’s social situation can lead to depression and other health problems, which takes them to the GP for medical help, but sorting out the personal problems and empowering people to take back control often results in a reduction of medicines and less need for a GP’s help.

Annette Christmas, who benefited from a social prescription said:

“I found the social prescriber very assuring and surprisingly helpful. The appointment was wonderfully friendly and everything was explained.”

And, Phillip Aitchison said:

"I was feeling very down about my situation, the GP referred me to a social prescriber, I didn't know about this service when they booked it for me at the surgery but it’s been brilliant. They empowered me to see what was out there to support me and get the help I needed.”

Dr Anil Kallil – GP and Chair of Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

"The role isn’t just about sign posting people to services it is about ensuring people get the right support from relevant community resources. Through personalised support, Social Prescribing Link Workers can help people who don’t necessarily require clinical treatment, by referring them to community groups and voluntary organisations running a range of activities from benefits advice, singing and cooking classes, to sports activities, gardening and housing help. This will help ease pressure on GPs to make more time available for patients with more complex health needs”.

The short video above was produced to explain the role further and is being shared through our social media.

Services will help people experiencing poor mental health to find and keep work

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A new service has launched across Essex today (1 July) to help people experiencing poor mental health maintain employment.

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) and Employ-Ability have launched the Employment Retention Service in partnership with Essex County Council.

It will run alongside the partnership’s established Employment Service that helps people receiving mental health support secure employment. Employment specialists help people set career goals, write CVs, prepare for interviews and build the confidence to enter the workplace.

The Employment Retention Service is a new service for Essex; enabling people in employment but experiencing mental health difficulties to find support so they are more likely to be able to continue working.

Staff will work alongside those in need, employers, health care staff and voluntary and community organisations to ensure support is put in place as quickly as possible.

The service is open to anyone experiencing mental health difficulties and members of the public are able to self-refer.

Sally Morris, Chief Executive at EPUT, said: “EPUT and Employ-Ability have been working in partnership to successfully deliver employment services in Essex for more than a decade.

“The service was one of the first to be recognised as a ‘National Centre of Excellence’ by the Centre for Mental Health and has helped many people with mental health needs find meaningful employment.

“The new Employment Retention Service has evolved from this success and will help those in work but experiencing mental health difficulties get the support they need quickly to help them maintain employment.

“I’m so pleased that, working with our partners, we have been able to launch this service at a time that is for so many a very challenging one.”

Steve Webb, Chair of Trustees, Employ-Ability said “This is a fantastic new and exciting service to provide further Employment Support for many people needing quick and appropriate responses to their particular issues.

“This partnership between EPUT and Employ-Ability, of long standing, will continue to develop on the amazing work already done to ensure this service maintains great relationships and much needed support, for those who are most vulnerable, with, perhaps, unique issues and challenges, especially at this difficult time.”

Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health said: “I’m delighted that from 1st July we will be doing more to help our Essex residents secure and retain employment, particularly where they have mental health concerns which have been barriers in the past.

The importance of employment, both in terms of its preventative wellbeing qualities and the strong role it can play in terms of recovery, cannot be overstated.

“The more we talk about mental health, and recognise when we are struggling, the more we can work towards ensuring those that need support receive it – as with any other form of ill health, no-one should be penalised for being ill.”

The Employment Service and the Employment Retention service can be contacted on 0300 7900 573 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Summer 2020 Issue of CCG Insight Out Now!

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We’ve released the latest edition of CCG Insight, a magazine packed full of information on healthcare in Thurrock plus details of the CCG's and our partners' work in the community.

The bumper summer issue features:

  • The latest information on how health and care in Thurrock and beyond has responded to the coronavirus pandemic;
  • How volunteers have helped the country and the NHS keep calm and carry on;
  • The NHS’ birthday and how people from across the country are marking the occasion;
  • Tips and support for people looking to keep fit while at home; and
  • Advice on how to look after your health during the summer months as well as how to manage common summer complaints.

You can find out more about all of these stories and more by viewing the latest issue above, or by downloading it by clicking the link below. We hope you enjoy reading it! Please feel free to share with friends, family members and colleagues.

pdf CCG Insight - Summer 2020 (issue 18) (2.67 MB)


Heatwave and summer advice

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Summer health – our guide to staying safe when the heat arrives

The summer months are finally upon us and most of us welcome the sunshine and warmer weather. But not only must we remember to follow COVID-19 guidance, it is also important to remember the various health problems summer can bring that might affect you or your family.

Don’t let your summer be ruined by sunstroke, dehydration or hay fever. Advice on avoiding the worst of their effects is all covered in our guide to summer health.

Heatwaves and very hot weather

There are some easy ways to stay safe when the heat arrives.

  • Look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions.
  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.
  • Drink plenty of water as sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you dehydrated.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat if you have to go out in the heat, and try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
  • Take care and follow local safety advice if you are going into the water to cool down.
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes.
  • Make sure you take water with you if you are travelling.

Hay fever

Hay fever can be miserable for so many people as the different blossoms and allergies run through the whole summer.

There’s currently no cure for hay fever and you unfortunately cannot prevent it. However, you can do things to ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high including:

  • Putting Petroleum Jelly around your nostrils to trap pollen; 
  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes; 
  • Showering and change your clothes after you’ve been outside to wash pollen off; 
  • Staying indoors whenever possible; 
  • Keeping windows and doors shut as much as possible; 
  • Vacuuming regularly and dust with a damp cloth; 
  • Buingy inga pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter.

Hay fever is not a long-term medical condition and treatment is only required for a few months each year so it can be managed without medical input. There are lots of different medications available, most of which are available to buy from your community pharmacy.

Antihistamines can be bought for as little as £1.99 for 30 tablets and eye drops for as little as £4.99. When you only need them now and again, it is better to buy over the counter in a pharmacy or supermarket.

For more advice on managing hay fever symptoms visit

Keep hydrated

Everyone is at risk of dehydration in hot temperatures which is why it’s always important to keep hydrated, but during hot weather it’s even more important to drink plenty of fluids like water – especially for the elderly or if you have a health condition such as diabetes.

Some drinks can increase dehydration, including those containing alcohol or caffeine such as tea, coffee and cola drinks. Drinks high in sugar have a similar effect – so stay clear of all these.

For those reluctant to drink water, why not try homemade ice lollies made with watered-down fruit juice or squash, or adding fruits such as lemons and limes to your bottled water?

Although you may not feel particularly hungry in the heat, don’t stop eating. Perhaps try to have smaller, more frequent light meals and incorporate lots of fruits and salad which are full of water and will help hydrate you.

Sun safety

We all know sunscreen is important but using the right one can be a little confusing. The NHS’s general advice is a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB and at least four-star UVA protection. Of course, the best protection from the sun is staying out of it at the hottest parts of the day, from 11am to 3pm.

Most people also don’t apply enough sunscreen. Due to the huge range of different products available including lotions, mousses, sprays and gels it is always best to check the individual product for advice on how to apply.

As a general guide, adults should aim to apply around two teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re just covering your head, arms and neck or two tablespoons if you’re covering your entire body while wearing a swimming costume.

If sunscreen is applied too thinly, the amount of protection it gives is reduced. Areas such as the back and sides of the neck, temples and ears are commonly missed, so you need to apply it generously and be careful not to miss patches.

Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun to allow it to dry. More is better and don’t forget to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and immediately after swimming or sweating, or if it has rubbed off for example by towel drying.

For more sun safety tips visit

Bugs and bites

Like sunburn and sand between your toes, insects and bites are a pretty unpleasant part of summer. Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days. There’s lots of help available from and you can also buy creams for itching and antihistamines from your pharmacy to have at home in case you need them.

If you are worried about a bite or sting then seek advice from your community pharmacist, GP or visit (you can phone 111 if you don't have internet connection).

Sprains and strains

When the weather is nice it is the perfect opportunity to put down the TV remote and head outdoors for some fun and games. Being active is good for your overall wellbeing. It builds confidence, social skills and improves concentration and learning. It also helps us maintain a healthy weight and aids sleep.

However, with being active and playing sports there is more risk of sprains and strains from tripping and falling. Most minor sprains and strains are relatively minor and can be treated at home with self-care techniques, such as paracetamol or PRICE therapy.

PRICE stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

  • Protection – protect the affected area from further injury – for example, by using a support.
  • Rest – avoid exercise and reduce your daily physical activity. Using crutches or a walking stick may help if you can’t put weight on your ankle or knee. A sling may help if you’ve injured your shoulder.
  • Ice – apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours. A bag of frozen peas, or similar, will work well. Wrap the ice pack in a towel so that it doesn’t directly touch your skin and cause an ice burn.
  • Compression – use elastic compression bandages during the day to limit swelling.
  • Elevation – keep the injured body part raised above the level of your heart whenever possible. This may also help reduce swelling.

A community pharmacist can offer self-care advice on managing sprains and strains and advice on the short-term use of over the counter medicines until you recover from your injury.

    Local NHS supports Learning Disabilities Week 2020

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    Local NHS across mid and south Essex will be supporting Learning Disability Week 2020 which will take place online from 15 to 21 June 2020.

    The theme of the week this year is the importance of friendships during lockdown. Friendships are important to help with tackling isolation, as well as exploring the different ways of maintaining friendships during this unusual time.

    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have all been living in lockdown. This means that many people with a learning disability are feeling isolated, as they have been unable to see their friends and families.

    We know that people with a learning disability already experience high levels of loneliness and social isolation and that this will only have been made worse by the lockdown. Studies undertaken by Mencap have evidenced that people with a learning disability are seven times more likely to be socially isolated.

    People with learning disabilities often have more complex health problems and may not always get equal access to healthcare, due in part to communication difficulties. There is evidence that shows people with learning disabilities have asked for better information to ensure that services are more accessible and health inequalities are reduced.

    Mid and south Essex Clinical Commissioning Groups continue to support those who work with adults with learning disabilities and/or autism, their families, and carers in the context of the pandemic. We have brought together a suite of assessible documents taken from national guidance and locally developed resources. We continue to work closely with our local authority and third-party colleagues to ensure the most up to date communications are made available to our learning disability communities.

    Learning Disabilities Week is led by Mencap, a charity that is a leading voice of learning disability. Mencap has identified that 49 per cent of people with a learning disability would like to spend more time outside their house, 18 per cent feel alone and cut off from other people. And a third spend less than an hour outside their homes on a typical Saturday.

    Tricia D’Orsi, Learning Disability Lead in Mid and South Essex said:

    "Supporting those with learning disabilities is one of our main clinical priorities. We are focused on improving the life chances and experiences of people with a learning disability, their carer’s and families. We work with key partners and local providers to ensure individuals are provided with equal access to services that matter to us all, and that individuals with care and support needs receive help that is skilled, enabling and life enhancing.

    “We share Mencap's vision of a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally. Their opinions and concerns are just as important as those of the rest of the population and should be listened to and acted on. That’s why we think it is so important to support initiatives like Learning Disabilities Week and the work of organisations like Mencap.”

    “It’s more important than ever that those with a learning disability have the full support of people and services”. Friendship in particular is even more important during periods of isolation such as what many people are experiencing at the moment. Spending so much time alone can lead to further feelings of depression and isolation which can further deteriorate mental health.

    To get involved with Learning Disabilities Week online this year use #LDWeek2020. People can post about the friendships they have made and value, what they mean to them and who they miss - perhaps with a picture or even a video so you can show the world how much your amazing friendships mean to you.