NHS app fully connected to all GP practices in Norfolk and Waveney

NHS AppAll GP practices in Norfolk and Waveney have now been fully linked up with the NHS App giving patients the ability to book and manage GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions, view their medical records and access a range of other services.

Linking up GP practices to the app is being carried out across England gradually and is expected to be completed nationally by this summer.

Patients can download the app from the Apple or Android app stores and follow the simple on-screen instructions to set it up, link it to their GP practice and enjoy its full functionality. Unlike previous online GP services, most patients will not need to visit their GP practice to set up a login for the NHS App, but can prove their identity in the app and create their NHS login.

The NHS App enables patients to:

  • check their symptoms and find out what to do when they need help urgently
  • book and manage appointments at their GP practice
  • order repeat prescriptions
  • securely view their GP medical record
  • register to be an organ donor
  • choose how the NHS uses their data

Dr Paul Berry, a retained GP for NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It is pleasing that patients can now enjoy the full range of services that the NHS App has to offer.

“This is a significant step in modernising NHS services, and should make life easier for patients and for practices, with the ability to book and manage appointments online, order repeat prescriptions, view your medical history and access 111 Online, among other services."

Dr Anoop Dhesi, a GP in Stalham and Chair of NHS North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This should help people check their medical history, check symptoms and make arrangements for their healthcare. It should also help us help patients by easing some of the pressures on practice reception desks and 'phone lines.

Tara Donnelly, chief digital officer for NHS England, said: “We have made significant progress over recent years in making GP services more accessible online. The NHS App is another major step forward as it provides all patients in England with the same service that is NHS owned and run. It’s great that patients in Norfolk and Waveney can now use the full range of services in the NHS App. But this is just the first step in an exciting journey as we will continue to develop and add new features to the app to help improve the patient experience of dealing with the NHS and ease the pressure on the frontline.”

More at www.nhs.uk/nhsapp 

Help stop the spread of norovirus

People living in Norfolk and Waveney are being urged to help prevent the spread of norovirus, as several cases of the virus have been seen in local hospitals. 

It’s particularly important with the Bank Holiday weekend nearly here.

Norovirus is unpleasant but usually something that normally healthy people can recover from at home without the need to see a doctor. People should try to avoid going to their GP or a hospital if they think they have norovirus, as it can spread to others very easily and it’s particularly important not to spread the virus to people who are already unwell.

Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK. It is highly contagious and can affect people of all ages although it shouldn’t normally last more than a couple of days.

Symptoms of norovirus include initially feeling sick followed by vomiting and diarrhoea. Some people may also have a raised temperature, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs.

To prevent its spread, public health officials are asking people to make sure they wash their hands frequently with warm, soapy water and are also asking anyone with vomiting and diarrhoea to remain at home and off work for at least 48 hours after their last symptoms.

Suzanne Meredith, Deputy Director of Public Health at Norfolk County Council, said: “Anyone affected by the bug should let it run its course as there is no specific cure for Norovirus.

“There are lots of things you can do to help prevent its spread. As well as washing hands regularly with soap and warm water, try to avoid direct contact as far as possible with other people or preparing food for others until at least 48 hours after your symptoms have disappeared. You may still be contagious, even though you no longer have sickness or diarrhoea.

“Our priority is to avoid the spread of the virus to GP practices, care homes and hospitals where it may put vulnerable people at risk and affect staff. Norovirus is more serious and even more easily spread among people who are already ill.”

To help prevent the virus spreading, the following measures should be followed:

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water
  • Don't share towels and flannels
  • Disinfect surfaces that an infected person has touched

If you have norovirus, following the steps below can help ease your symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Take paracetamol if you are able to, for any fever or aches and pains
  • If you feel like eating, eat foods that are easy to digest

Extra care should also be taken to prevent babies and small children who have diarrhoea and vomiting from dehydrating by giving them plenty of fluids.

For more advice and information visit www.nhs.uk/norovirus

New Chief Officer appointed for the five CCGs in Norfolk and Waveney

Melanie Craig. jpg 2The five NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norfolk and Waveney have appointed Melanie Craig to be Chief Officer from Monday 29th April 2019.

Her appointment followed a national call for candidates, interview panels and ratification by the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens.

Melanie has been Chief Officer of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG since February 2017 and is also the Executive Lead of the local partnership of health and care organisations called the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP).

Melanie said: “Norfolk & Waveney is developing more integrated and sustainable ways of working. We want this for patient-facing services and we want this within organisations. This will help us to make the best use of our resources when demand and work pressures are increasing.

“We shall continue to retain our local focus; our CCGs remain as separate entities however one staff team serving all five CCGs will provide greater coherence, consistency and efficiency whilst continuing to focus on important local priorities.”

The Chairs of the five CCGs commented: “The many colleagues and stakeholders who know Melanie will know she is committed to our patients, is passionate to improve services and has an excellent track record in leadership.”

John Ingham CFOThe decision to appoint a single Chief Officer (also known as an Accountable Officer) was made by the five CCGs in November 2018. It is quite common to have one team of staff working across multiple CCGs. North and South Norfolk CCGs have shared a single team of management and staff since July 2016 and similar models are in place in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

The five CCGs have also appointed one joint Chief Finance Officer, John Ingham. Up to today John has been Chief Finance Officer at Norwich CCG and before that at West Norfolk CCG.

The CCGs are now creating one single staff structure which is expected to be in place towards the end of the year.

STP Adult Mental Health Strategy published

In 2018, Norfolk and Waveney’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership began a review of the wider range of mental health support and services available to adults living locally.

Over 2500 people took part in the engagement, and these were used in shaping a long term strategy for mental health services in Norfolk and Waveney. pdf Here is the final  strategy. (2.07 MB)  This strategy sets out a long term vision for mental health services available locally, and what we need to do to get there. It has been written alongside people that use mental health services, carers and professionals, and is rooted in the things people told us needed the most attention. At the core of the strategy are six ‘commitments’ that frame the work we need to prioritise:

1. To increase our focus on prevention and wellbeing
2. To make the routes into and through mental health services more clear and easy to understand for everyone
3. To support the management of mental health issues in primary care settings (such as within GP practices)
4. To provide appropriate support for those people who are in crisis
5. To ensure effective in-patient care for those that need it most (that being beds in hospitals are other care facilities)
6. To ensure the whole system is focused on working in an integrated way to care for patients

We recognise the strategy will need to constantly evolve for it to remain relevant regardless of the climate we find ourselves in. By doing so we can turn this strategy into action, working in true coproduction with people that use mental health services and the communities they live in to deliver effective, compassionate mental health care for everyone.

Each of the above 6 commitments has a dedicated workstream, which is developing its own action plans to deliver change in its respective areas. These workstreams involve people with experience of using mental health services, carers, voluntary and community sector representatives, clinicians and professionals, and commissioners.

If you are interested in being part of one of the commitment workstreams, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Spending on children's mental health

This is the information we provided to the local media about how much we spend on mental health services for children and young people in Norfolk and Waveney. It makes clear that we spend double the East Anglia average and appear to be among the higher spending areas.

Over the last two years spend per head on universal and targeted mental health services for children and young people has increased by nearly a third and is now more than double the regional average (£11.97 for the 2018/19 year). Separate to this, there has also been an extra £1.3m of investment into eating disorders services for children and young people.

We completely agree with the Children’s Commissioner that there needs to be even more focus on helping children and young people earlier, to prevent more serious health problems from developing.

That’s why we recently started work to transform children and young people’s mental health services within the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. This brings together all of those working across mental health in Norfolk and Waveney so that we can create a joined-up system that delivers the very best for our children.

Together, we will be developing services for those aged up to 25, with a focus on early support and well-being. As part of this, we expect there to be more support within homes and schools.

Recent reports into children’s mental health services in Norfolk have also highlighted several strengths in practice in Norfolk, not least the dedicated, caring and compassionate staff working across mental health and children’s services. We want to give them the environment to make the biggest difference for families and we know that change is needed to achieve that.

Figures relating to CCG and NCC spend on ‘Tier 1 and 2 CAMHS’ otherwise known as universal and targeted CAMHS:

2016/17 - £1,728,719 = £9.08 per head aged 0-17 in Norfolk & Waveney
2017/18 - £2,192,794 = £11.51 per head aged 0-17 in Norfolk & Waveney
2018/19 - £2,279,521 = £11.97 per head aged 0-17 in Norfolk & Waveney

Diabetes Prevention Week - 1-7 April 2019

Know your risk of Type 2 diabetes

Norfolk and Waveney residents are being encouraged to know their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, as part of Diabetes Prevention Week.

Diabetes Prevention Week runs from 1-7 April 2019, and the focus of the week is #PreventingType2. There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1.

In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have Type 2. There are 3.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, and this figure has more than doubled in the last 20 years. In Norfolk and Waveney, around 60,000 people are living with Type 2 diabetes and many more are likely to be at risk.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors:

• Age. The older you are, the more at risk you are.
• Family history. You’re two to six times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes
• Ethnicity. You’re more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you’re Chinese, South Asian, African-Caribbean or Black-African
• Weight. You’re more at risk if you’re overweight, especially if you’re large around the middle
• Blood pressure. You’re more at risk if you’ve ever had high blood pressure.

Anyone can find out if they are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by visiting www.diabetes.org.uk/knowyourrisk

Dr Clare Hambling, a GP and West Norfolk CCG’s clinical lead for diabetes, said: “It is very important that you find out if you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes because then you can get support to lower your risk. Using Diabetes UK’s online tool to measure your risk takes just a couple of minutes, and you can be sent useful tips on reducing your risk.

“If you think you might be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, visit your GP practice. You may be eligible to join the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. This programme is in place across Norfolk and Waveney, and supports you to make changes to your weight if appropriate, your levels of physical activity, and your diet. You will get advice from professionals and be able to talk to other people using the Healthier You service. We know making changes can be tough, but with our support you can take control of your health and significantly reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.”

Shelley Ames, Inactivity and Health Development Manager at Active Norfolk, said: “Being physically active can reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 40%. Reducing time spent sitting and taking regular exercise helps to lower blood pressure and manage weight, which all help cut the risk of developing diabetes. Finding ways to incorporate activity into your day, from simple things like taking the stairs where possible, brisk walking, through to taking up aerobic and strength building exercises, can make a real difference.”

Rebecca Jones, East of England Improving Care Manager for Diabetes UK, said: “Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and it is on the rise. There are 12.3 million people at risk of Type 2 diabetes, but it could be delayed or prevented by healthy eating, being more active and losing weight if overweight.

“The dramatic increase in obesity rates is the main driver behind the rise in Type 2 diabetes. Three in five adults in England are overweight or obese, and while not every case of Type 2 diabetes is caused by excessive weight, it is the single greatest risk factor for the developing the condition.

“We urge people people over 40 to get an NHS Health Check and advise everyone to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes with our Know Your Risk tool.”

Funding boost for new GP Assistants

Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) has been successful in its bid for £100,000 to lead the roll out of General Practice Assistants across the area.

The year-long pilot will train 40 GP Assistants in Norfolk and Waveney, who will provide high level non-clinical support to GP practices and reduce the administrative burden on clinical professionals.

Recruiting more administration staff is part of Norfolk and Waveney STP’s primary care workforce strategy and through our work we have already identified that we will need an additional 120 admin staff over the next five years.

The GP Assistants programme is funded by Health Education England and will be led by Norfolk and Waveney’s five GP Provider organisations; OneNorwich; North Norfolk Primary Care; South Norfolk Healthcare; West Norfolk Health and Coastal Health.

The programme will also involve working with key partners in the East of England, such as primary care networks, Clinical Commissioning Groups and training hubs, to support the spread of the GP Assistant role across the region.

Norfolk and Waveney STP will be one of seven ‘lead’ Primary Care Training Hubs across the country.

The GP Assistant role will include:

• Acting as a focal point for patient/carer enquiries
• Providing an in-depth understanding of health demographics and the cultural needs of patient groups
• Signposting patients to the most appropriate services where the GP surgery may not be the best option
• Where appropriate, acting on test results in line with local policy and procedures
• Managing referrals and prescriptions
• Sorting clinical post and prioritising directly
• Taking accurate minutes of complex and sensitive meetings
• Transcribing and preparing medical reports
• Using patient related electronic systems

Tracey Bullard, Head of Transformation at the GP alliance OneNorwich, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting and leading on this new and very exciting GP Assistant role for Primary Care. The role will be a very welcome enhanced addition to an ever busy and changing workforce and practice environment.”

Dr Emma Brandon, a GP at Paston Surgery in North Walsham and Chair of the Norfolk and Waveney STP Training Hub, said: “This is really exciting news. We know from earlier pilot projects that GP Assistants can help relieve pressure on busy GPs by helping to reduce the burden of clinical correspondence and day to day tasks. We are delighted to have been chosen as the only area in the Eastern region to pilot this scheme and look forward to welcoming the GP Assistants in our practices.”

Kirstie Baxter, Head of Workforce Transformation, Health Education England, said: “Health Education England is supporting local Primary Care Training Hubs with the introduction and spread of General Practice Assistants. General Practice Assistants will be great additions to GP teams, easing the administrative workload, releasing highly-qualified staff to concentrate on patients with complex conditions, and improving patients’ experience. We are looking forward to supporting Norfolk and Waveney Training Hub as they host and co-ordinate this exciting development in the East of England as part of our wider Workforce Transformation programme.”