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December 2018
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February 2019

Health commissioners have a chat to mark ‘Brew Monday’

On Monday, 21 January people across Sefton were urged to put the kettle on, sit down and take the time to have a chat with friends, family and colleagues for ‘Brew Monday’.

Staff at Sefton CCGs on Brew Monday-picsay

A simple act like having a brew and talking with friends may seem trivial but it can actually make a big difference to someone who is struggling with their mental health.

That is why this year NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG both took part in Brew Monday, with members of staff taking time out of their day to sit and chat with colleagues.

Fiona Taylor, chief officer of the CCGs, said:

"Its good that we’ve managed to find the time to take a break from our busy schedules and spent some time in conversation with our colleagues.S

Simply asking someone how they’re doing can have a huge impact on the way they’re feeling.W

We always encourage our staff to speak to their friends and family about how they’re feeling. Brew Monday is a great opportunity to start the conversation about your mental health, be it with your family, friends or GP.”

‘Brew Monday’ was originally launched by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust who host events across the region each year to raise awareness of their ‘zero suicides’ initiative, which is a commitment to eliminating suicide for all those in their care. The Life Rooms in Bootle also hosted a ‘Big Brew’ session to mark what is often billed as the most depressing day of the year.

Amanda Comer, Service Lead at Access Sefton, said:

“One in four adults and one in ten children will experience some sort of mental health issue each year, but sometimes people don’t know what help is available and how to get it, or may feel embarrassed talking about how they are feeling.

The state of our mental health can be affected by many different factors, including life events like separation or bereavement, work-related stress, and physical health issues – among other things.

It is really important not to ‘suffer in silence’, and talking to someone about your mental health can go a long way towards helping you feel better.” 

If you are feeling anxious or depressed, you can contact Access Sefton for free NHS talking therapies for common mental health conditions. The service is available to anyone aged 16 and over and registered with a Sefton GP.  For more information visit Access Sefton online at or call 0300 303 2708.


Reduce your risk of cervical cancer by getting a regular smear test

Health commissioners and Sefton Council are supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (Monday 21 January – Sunday 27 January) which aims to raise awareness of cervical cancer and the importance of screening.

Cancer Ribbons

NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Southport and Formby CCG and Sefton Council are encouraging women (aged 25 to 64) to have cervical screening to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer. The test detects human papilloma virus (HPV) and signs of early abnormal cells.

Dr Graeme Allan, Macmillan GP and primary care cancer lead at NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“Cervical cancer affects around 3,000 women in the UK every year, making it the most common form of cancer for women under the age of 35. According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, 75 per cent of these cases can be prevented through testing.   

“In both NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG the uptake of cervical screenings by eligible women in 2017/18 was decreased from the previous year. The decrease in the uptake of this screening is worrying; we strongly encourage all eligible women to have regular cervical screenings.”

Dr Debbie Harvey, Macmillan GP at NHS South Sefton CCG, said:

“Women aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every three years and 50 to 64 year olds are every five years. When it's time for your next smear test, you should be sent a letter inviting you to make an appointment. It's quick and simple and it looks for the human papilloma virus (HPV). If positive for the virus, your sample will then be tested for early abnormal cells.

“Contact your GP if you think you may be overdue a test. Screening appointments can now be made with practice nurses and if it’s more convenient you can also book to have your screening with the 7 day GP service that operates evenings and weekends.” 

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“It is concerning to see that the uptake of cervical screenings in Sefton has declined; this means that many women may unknowingly be living with abnormal cells or signs of HPV.

“I urge all women in Sefton who are eligible for a smear test to make an appointment with their GP and help protect their health.”

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:

“Cervical screening is the best way to help prevent cervical cancer. Yet screening uptake in England is at a 21-year low. This is especially concerning as we are seeing the number of diagnoses rise.  

“That is why during this year’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, it is more important than ever to ensure that people understand the steps they can take to reduce their risk of this disease.” 

For more information on cervical cancer and what the screening test involves, please visit: 

Will you be part of Europe’s biggest healthcare survey?

More than two million people are being given an opportunity to tell the NHS about their experiences of using services at their GP practice. The GP Patient Survey invites a sample of people aged 16 and over from over 7,000 practices across England to take part.

ChecklistThe survey provides detailed information about different ways people interact with primary care staff and how good that experience is. It is key to help the NHS understand what’s working well and what needs to change. Results of the 2018 survey showed 90% of patients in Southport and Formby, and 83% of patients in South Sefton rated their overall experience of their GP practice as ‘Good’ (national average: 84%).

NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) either matched the national average or performed better than average for most other questions, such as helpfulness of reception staff, easy-to-use website, and experience of booking an appointment.

Results for NHS South Sefton CCG were a little below the national average for most of the questions about access and overall experience of booking an appointment. However, they performed above average for questions such as ‘Did you feel that your mental health needs were understood?’ (89% yes; national average: 87%) and ‘Have you had enough support to help you manage your long-term condition(s)?’ (80% yes; national average: 79%).

For the question ‘How was your last experience of NHS services when you wanted to see a GP, but your GP practice was closed?’, 72% of South Sefton patients and 68% of Southport and Formby patients said ‘Good’ (national average: 69%).

If you have been randomly selected to take part, you will receive a letter over the next few weeks, along with a questionnaire. You can complete it by post or online until the end of March. There is a range of options to make it more inclusive for people who need support to help them take part. All the information gathered is handled securely and no-one is identified when the findings are published.

Dr Craig Gillespie, GP and acting chair for NHS South Sefton CCG said:

“We want to hear about your experience of seeing all the different healthcare professionals at your GP practice. This includes on-site pharmacists, mental health specialists and practice nurses – not just GPs.”

The survey also aims to find out more about people’s experiences of using online services, telephone services as well as face-to-face appointments. It also looks at how much support people get with managing long-term conditions and medication.”

The GP Patient Survey is also a way to see how recent changes such as extended opening hours have helped. Some of these initiatives were prompted by patient feedback in previous years’ surveys.

Dr Rob Caudwell, GP and chair for NHS Southport and Formby CCG explained:

“In October 2018 we launched ‘7 Day GP Service’ – for patients registered with a GP in Southport or Formby to be able to book routine, non-urgent evening and weekend appointments with a doctor, practice nurse or other healthcare professionals at 107 Liverpool Road, Birkdale. South Sefton patients can do the same through ‘GP Extra’ at Litherland Town Hall, Liverpool.”

Read more about these services at

Patients who are not invited to take part in this year’s survey can still provide useful feedback by filling in a Friends and Family Test form at their practice any time. It is open to everyone, any time – and every practice is involved. More than 1.2 million pieces of feedback are given through this form every month, with nine in 10 rating their experience positively.

The feedback helps NHS leaders across England to understand the current picture of healthcare, and to see where any improvements are needed.


Keep a close eye on Sefton’s beloved furry friends

Among Sefton’s most beloved residents are its beautiful red squirrel population, found mainly in Formby.

Red Squirrel on a tree trunk

Their role in Sefton should not be taken for granted and special care is taken to sustain their numbers.

An important part of this is observing and recording both red and grey squirrel numbers. Lancashire Wildlife Trust is hosting a squirrel monitoring workshop at Coronation Park in Crosby, January 19, 10.30am – 12.30pm for those who want to volunteer for this important role.

If this sounds like it could be right up your tree, visit the Lancashire Wildlife Trust Facebook page

(Source: Sefton Borough Council)


Hospital chief’s praise for staff after the busiest start to the year 

A hospital chief executive has spoken of his pride in staff after their busiest start to a year ever.

Silas Nicholls

Christmas and New Year saw record attendances at A&E at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals. Twenty extra patients were seen each day compared to 2017, an increase of 16%.

Despite this staff treated, admitted or transferred 89.3% of patients within four hours of arriving in A&E – a near 10% improvement on the previous year. Patients also waited much less time for transfer into the hospital from an ambulance.

Overall patients now spend two hours less on average in A&E than they did last year.

Chief Executive Silas Nicholls said:

“This is my first winter at the Trust and I’m hugely proud of how staff have risen to the challenge.

“The £1.25m improving Southport A&E and more than £1m invested in additional clinical staff has certainly helped improve our performance. But it’s the hard work, commitment and dedication of staff to the care and well-being of local people that have made the biggest difference.

He added:

“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions over the past week to make space for everyone who needs care. I want to apologise to anyone whose experience while staying with us has been affected by how busy we are.

“Staff are working incredibly hard to keep all patients safe and cared for. Patients and visitors have a part to play too. Help them to help you keep up their fantastic work.”

  • Wash your hands regularly and use the gel dispensers. Norovirus has been a significant issue for the NHS this winter. If you have suffered diarrhoea or vomiting, please don’t visit the hospitals until 48 hours have passed since the last symptoms
  • If you’re a patient, get up and keep mobile, have a shower and put on normal clothing – they’re all things you can do to help you feel better and begin your recovery
  • Help get your loved one’s things ready to help with a trouble-free discharge. For example, bring in their clothes and get things ready at home for them – get the heating on, shopping in and so on
  • Keep A&E free for people with serious injuries or illness, or life-threatening emergencies. If you are unsure of where to go for medical advice or treatment and it is not an emergency NHS111 can help direct you to the most appropriate place for your care.