Residents invited to be involved as mental health services review is launched

Health and care partners across Norfolk and Waveney are inviting residents to take part in a major review of local adult mental health services. The review will inform the development of a 10 year mental health strategy, ensuring services are delivered in ways that meet future needs.

Patricia Hewitt, Independent Chair of the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) said: “We started a conversation with local people in May and, building from that, are now expanding this important work to ensure residents have every chance to tell us what they think are working and, importantly, what needs to change.”

Exciting new nursing role launches in Norfolk and Waveney

The first 70 students have begun training for an exciting new role which will further improve the care which people in Norfolk and Waveney receive while helping increase capacity within the NHS and social care workforce.

The trainee nursing associates (TNAs) have been introduced by the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) as part of a national programme which aims to find innovative ways to address staffing challenges within health and social care.

Norwich Escalation Avoidance Team shortlisted in national awards

NEAT logoA team of health and care professionals in Norwich - who have helped more than 1600 people cope with a health or social care crisis - have been shortlisted for a national award.

The Norwich Escalation Avoidance Team, or NEAT, has been shortlisted in the Health Service Journal Awards category for “Improved Partnerships Between Health and Local Government”. They will find out if they have won after judging, in November.

Campaign highlights medicines we need to buy for ourselves

People in Norfolk and Waveney are being reminded not to ask their doctor for everyday medicines like paracetamol as part of a campaign designed to help the NHS make the best use of its resources

NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are asking people to buy their own medicines from a pharmacy or supermarket for common conditions such as hay fever, diarrhoea, indigestion, cold sores, nappy rash, warts, verrucas and headlice.

This is now a national NHS policy, put into place following a public consultation run by NHS England. GPs still have the discretion to prescribe items depending on clinical circumstances, such as when combinations of medication could be complex or for people who take large quantities of medicines to manage a long-term condition which their GP is monitoring.

Dr Liam Stevens, a GP and chair of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, said: “The NHS only has a finite amount of money and a duty to spend it in a way that achieves the best possible outcomes for all of our patients. That is why we think it is a better option for most people to self-care for minor problems by buying a box of paracetamol for 20 or 30 pence from a supermarket rather than expecting their GP to prescribe the same thing at a significantly increased cost to the NHS.

“By doing so, you will also help our GPs to make best use of their time so that they can prioritise appointments for higher risk patients, such as those with complex needs, the very young and elderly and those with long-term conditions.

“Doing your bit is simple, so please help your NHS by caring for yourself wherever possible and buying your own medicines so that we can make the best use of our resources for the benefit of everyone in Norfolk and Waveney.”

Figures show the local NHS spent £5.7m last year on remedies which could have been purchased over the counter for a fraction of the price.

Of this, £800,000 was used for muscle pain medication which costs just £1.60 for patients to buy themselves. A total of £666,000 went on allergy medication, while a further £2m was spent on moisturising lotions – money which could have paid for 339 hip replacement operations.

Dr Paul Williams, chair of West Norfolk CCG, said: “Your first port of call if you’re suffering with a minor illness should always be your pharmacist. They are highly-trained healthcare professionals who can offer help and advice about a huge range of common illnesses without booking an appointment, as well as recommending the right medication to help you to self-care at home.

“By speaking to them first, you could also save yourself a visit to your GP and help free up appointments for other patients in greater need.”

If your GP practice asks you to pop to the pharmacist to buy an everyday medicine for yourself, the NHS is asking people to understand they are simply following national and local policy, required by NHS England and the CCGs.

Everyday Medicines

People in Norfolk and Waveney are being urged not to ask their doctor for everyday medicines like paracetamol as part of a new campaign.

Norfolk and Waveney’s NHS clinical commissioning groups are asking GPs not to routinely prescribe ‘over the counter medicines’ for some common conditions, unless in exceptional clinical circumstances.

Instead, people are being encouraged to buy them at a pharmacy or shop so that the NHS can spend the money it would otherwise cost on other areas of healthcare. If more people self-care for minor ailments, it could also free up important appointment time at GP practices.

The CCGs have joined forces to launch the new campaign after figures showed the local NHS spent £5.7m last year on remedies for minor conditions such as diarrhoea and indigestion, as well as medicines such as paracetamol.

Of this total, £800,000 was spent on muscle pain medication which costs just £1.60 for patients to buy themselves, while £666,000 went on allergy medication. A further £2m was spent on moisturising lotions – money which could have paid for 339 hip replacement operations.

The Norfolk CCGs carried out an online survey to gather public opinion about the subject, which attracted nearly 400 responses and showed the public were broadly supportive of the concept. Many other areas in England have also taken a similar approach.

Dr Dustyn Saint, GP at Long Stratton Medical Partnership and a member of NHS South Norfolk CCG’s governing body, said: “In the current challenging times, we need to recognise that the NHS only has a finite amount of money and a duty to spend this in a way that achieves the best possible outcomes for all of our patients. We think it is a better option for most people to buy a box of paracetamol for 20 or 30 pence from a supermarket rather than expecting their GP to prescribe the same thing at a significantly increased cost.

“This is not just about money, it is also about prioritising the use of GP appointments, enabling our family doctors to focus on caring for higher risk patients, such as those with complex needs, the very young and elderly, managing long-term conditions and providing new services.

“We do still fully appreciate that there will be instances where a patient’s clinical needs mean that these items will still need to be available on prescription, for example those with long-term medical conditions who require large quantities of certain items.”

Michael Dennis, a medicines management expert with the CCGs, said: “Your first port of call if you’re suffering with a minor illness should always be your pharmacist. They are highly-trained healthcare professionals who can offer help and advice about a huge range of common illnesses without booking an appointment, as well as recommending the right medication to help you self-care at home. By speaking to them first, you could also save yourself a visit to your GP and help free up appointments for other patients in greater need.

“Doing your bit is simple, so please help your NHS by caring for yourself wherever possible and buying your own medicines so that we can make the best use of our resources for the benefit of everyone in Norfolk and Waveney.”

GPs still have discretion to prescribe items depending on clinical circumstances, for example for people who require large quantities of particular medicines for long-term illnesses.

You can follow the campaign on Twitter @YourMED_YourNHS and use the hashtags #selfcare and #askyourpharmacist