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.

Share experiences of health services during the coronavirus pandemic

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The NHS is seeking views of local people and communities to better understand how to support people during Coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

While local GP Practices across mid and south Essex have continued to deliver services, the ways in which people have been accessing health services has been different.

From March 2020 through until the end of May 2020 GP practices across mid and south Essex have carried out just over 23,000 video consultations.

Alan Hudson, Lay Member for Patient Participation and Involvement, NHS Thurrock CCG, said:

“It is essential that we learn from this period of time, reflecting on how services can continue to improve to support local people to live happy, healthy lives. This survey provides residents with an opportunity to share their experiences of the pandemic. The results will help us to assess the impact of the changes to services we have adopted as a result of Coronavirus. I urge people to take the survey and help us to understand how we can make sure services meet the needs of the local population we serve”.

Residents across Thurrock can help to support our work by providing feedback via the following link:


Printed copies can be requested by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The survey closes on 19 June 2020.

Accessing primary care services from June 2020

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The GP in Minor Injuries Unit pilot has now come to an end. You will no longer be able to access a GP in the Minor Injuries Unit at Orsett. This was originally a pilot that had been extended while we ensured more provision for primary care was made available in Thurrock.

The numbers of people using the service has been decreasing and there are lots more appointments available across our GP practices, with enhanced primary care services now in place, including paramedic practitioners, clinical pharmacists, advanced nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and mental health support. Find out more about on our webpage about the expanded GP practice team.

There’s also the Thurrock Health Hubs, which offer evening and weekend appointments 7 days a week providing extended access to primary care services. Find out more about the hubs on our Thurrock Health Hubs webpage

The Health Hubs also support on the day appointments, which can be booked through your GP practice. In addition, the health hubs offer appointments for things like immunisations, vaccinations, diabetes and long-term condition support and much more.

Thank you to the volunteers in Essex!

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Hundreds of volunteers make a difference by supporting the NHS and Local Authorities in mid and south Essex - National Volunteers Week 2020 (1-7 June 2020)

National Volunteers Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Mid and south Essex is no exception and has a wealth of voluntary organisations and dedicated volunteers, regularly supporting their local communities. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an even greater sense of pride in volunteering with hundreds of volunteers lending a hand.

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak has had an impact on everyone, young and old, across the entire world. But volunteers across the county have shown that when faced with the challenges of a national crisis, people will come together and can achieve amazing things.

Professor Mike Thorne, Independent Chair of the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) wants to say a huge “thank you” to all of the amazing volunteers on behalf of everyone working in the NHS in Essex:

“Volunteers are often the unsung heroes in our communities, and this week we want to make a special effort to say “thank you”. Volunteers from all kinds of backgrounds with a range of valuable skills have come together to support the NHS, local authorities and providers as we deal with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

“It’s so humbling to see the speed with which volunteers have come together to help us make some major changes to our services in the community. Their commitment and willingness to help, often with something they’ve never done before has been just brilliant!

Changes have been made in Community Hospital settings across mid and south Essex so that more patients can be cared for. Volunteers from all walks of life have been helping get things ready, whether it’s cleaning, moving equipment, setting things up – they have all played an important part. For some, volunteering is a regular event but for others it’s all very new and has come about as a result of the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Jennifer’s usual job is as an Ofsted registered childminder, but her business was seriously impacted by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, so she completed the St John’s Ambulance COVID-19 Care Module in the hope that she could help. Soon after Jennifer was told she was going to be volunteering at Brentwood Community Hospital:

“The work took me right back to my nursing days from 20 years ago. I met some amazing people and was treated as one of them from the very first day. The public dropped off food and snacks as well as the odd treat, I found that so lovely.
Volunteering had such a positive impact that Jennifer is now considering a change in career;
“I was disappointed when my volunteering came to and as I’ve enjoyed it so much, so much so in fact I’ve made the decision to change jobs – who knows, I may even end up working back at Brentwood Community Hospital!”
Thorne added “The list of organisations and partners working with us is vast, but includes those such as St John’s Ambulance, Essex Fire Service, the Territorial Army and Team Rubicon, as well as the many Councils for Voluntary Service (CVS) that be found across mid and south Essex. I’d like to thank them all for their incredible support.”

If you’d like to find out more about volunteering in your area, you can start by visiting National Council for Voluntary Organisations to find a volunteering opportunity near you. https://www.ncvo.org.uk/ncvo-volunteering/i-want-to-volunteer

New crisis mental health phone line launched

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A new crisis mental health phone line has launched across Essex.

The 24-hour service, launched by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), offers immediate and specialist support to adults experiencing mental health crisis.

Anyone in need can dial 111 at any time and select the option for mental health crisis (option 2).

Callers will be connected to trained staff at EPUT who can provide timely and appropriate support and advice.

The service is for people aged 18 and over and aims to ensure those in need of support can access it quickly when they need it most.

It is hoped the service will help alleviate pressure on hospital accident and emergency services and GP surgeries.

Andy Brogan, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive at EPUT, said: “It is vital that people are able to access specialist support without delay when they are experiencing mental health crisis. This service will enable people to do just that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Working with colleagues at Clinical Commissioning Groups across Essex, I am pleased that we have been able to launch this service to help people when they need it most.”