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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Are you or do you know someone who is finding it difficult to get to the GP surgery?

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Healthwatch Ealing is the new independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the public In Ealing. Healthwatch will play a role at national, regional and local level and will make sure that the views of the public and people who use services are taken into account.

Address: Healthwatch Ealing, Lido Centre 63 Mattock Lane West Ealing
London W13 9LA United Kingdom

Web: http://www.healthwatchealing.co.uk

There are many elderly or disabled people who find it difficult to get to their GP’s surgery for routine visits as there is no public transport, taxis are expensive and they don’t have friends or family available to take them. By attending the surgery they can see the GP who will have easy access to their medical records, be able to see other health care professionals as well as the fact that appropriate examinations  are often much easier to perform and a chaperone is usually available. For some this may be a welcome social outing!

To address this the Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group are providing the  ECT with funding for the following pilot project.

PlusBus for Health

What is PlusBus for Health and can I use it?

PlusBus for Health is a new trial service offered by ECT to transport people to and from GP surgeries. The service aims to reduce the number of GP house calls and no-shows at surgeries, and simultaneously improve the well-being of patients by providing the opportunity to leave their homes and increase social contact.

The service is not currently available to everyone. GP surgeries are referring people who are eligible to ECT.

This is a shared service which will run to provide FREE transport for as many people as possible.

To find out more, please speak to your GP to see if they are taking part in the trial, or alternatively call 020 8813 3214 or email plusbushealth@ectcharity.co.uk.

NB we are participating in this trial

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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ARE YOU LOOKING AFTER YOUR HEART? – HAPPY VALENTINES DAY…….

     HELP YOUR HEART BY SMALL CHANGES.              

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Stressed out?

Stress is a word people use for feeling they feel when everything gets too much.

You might get this if:-

  • You have too much to do
  • If other people are asking a lot of you
  • You are having to deal with things you can’t control

To help keep your heart healthy, you need to take care of your body and your mind

You have a choice in that you can choose how you want to control your life and change it for the better by just taking

10 minutes out.

How does stress affect your heart?

Being stressed often makes you do things which are bad for your heart:-

  • smoking – stop to think whether you could consider a quit smoking day and contact Smokefree Ealing by calling 0208 579 8622 or visit http://www.smokefreeealing.co.uk
  • drinking too much – if you need support contact RISE –  http://www.ealingrise.org.uk
    Phone: 020 8843 5900
    24hrs: 0800 195 8100
  • eating unhealthy foods that are high in saturated fat and salt so that you put on too much weight, raise your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.- contact your GP for advice or screening.

If you  smoke , have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are overweight, you are more likely to get coronary heart disease, which means you might get angina or have a heart attack.

Drinking too much alcohol can cause problems with your heart rhythm, high blood pressure and damage your heart muscle.

If you have stresses you need help with contact IAPT  Self-referral line: 020 3313 5660 or visit :-

http://www.wlmht.nhs.uk/service/ealing-iapt/

find out more about dealing with stress and helping your heart.  download the following:-

Heart

https://www.bhf.org.uk/~/media/files/publications/other-prevention/g926_take_time_out_01_14.pdf

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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SCARLET FEVER MAKES A COME BACK

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This deadly disease was first described gin the 1500s. Due to its contagious nature and debilitating, if not deadly, effects, outbreaks of scarlet fever were greatly feared.

Charles Dickens knew more than he would have wished about scarlet fever. His son, Charley, was afflicted by it, causing the family to leave Paris hurriedly and return to London in 1847, and it featured in several of his novels. It was a much-feared disease that caused devastating epidemics through the 19th and early 20th centuries, resulting in thousands of deaths.

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The boy in this story is suffering from scarlet fever. Because the disease was so infectious, it was not uncommon for all the children in a family to contract scarlet fever and for none to survive.

I can remember my grandmother telling about the carts that rolled down the streets to remove infected people to take them to the fever isolation hospitals outside the towns during epidemics of scarlet fever or other infectious diseases.

Over the years scarlet fever has naturally declined over the past  200 years probably largely due to intake of  better food and clean drinking water, improved sanitation, less overcrowding and better living conditions generally. Also, I suspect that accuracy in diagnosing scarlet fever was more difficult as diseases with rashes such as smallpox, meningococcal meningitis and measles were very common.

Fans of the Little House on the Prairie series will remember that it was scarlet fever was thought to have that resulted in Mary’s blindness. However, as there was no record of a sore throat it was more likely to have been caused by meningococcal meningitis. Both scarlet fever and meningitis have a widespread rash but they are differentiated by performing the ‘glass test’. The rash of scarlet fever becomes white with the glass test.

https://www.meningitisnow.org/meningitis-explained/signs-and-symptoms/glass-test/

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When penicillin was widely available in 1942 this made significant difference to the course of the diseases in that severe complications such as Rheumatic Fever with serious heart problems, Glomerulonephritis with severe kidney problems, osteomyelitis ( bone infection ) and blood borne infections are now very rare.

Now, 160 years later, it is making a comeback. Almost 3,000 cases were recorded in 2008, the highest total for a decade, and doctors fear a dangerous strain of the infection is becoming more widespread. If seems scarlet fever follows a cycle rising and falling roughly every four years – and is currently on a rising trend.

What is Scarlet Fever (Scarletina)?

Scarlet fever (sometimes called scarlatina) is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes, which is commonly found on the skin or in the throat, where it can live without causing problems. However, under some circumstances, they can also cause diseases like scarlet fever.

It is most common in children between the ages of 2 and 8 years of age. I remember one Sunday evening last year I saw 6 children from the same reception  class at school attend with classical signs of scarlet fever.

What are the symptoms and signs?

Symptoms include a fever, tiredness, nausea and vomiting and may be headache aswell as feeling generally unwell.

Red blotches are the first sign of the rash. These turn into a fine pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper to touch and looks like sunburn.
The rash usually starts in one place, but soon spreads to other parts of the body. It commonly affects the ears, neck, chest, elbows, inner thighs and groin, and may be itchy.

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The rash blanches with the ‘glass test’ and does does not normally spread to the face.

However, the cheeks become flushed and the area just around the mouth stays quite pale ( circumoral pallor) The rash will turn white if you press a glass on it. The tongue becomes swollen and red and is often called a ‘strawberry tongue’

The rash usually fades after about a week, but the outer layers of skin, usually on the hands and feet, may peel for several weeks afterwards.

In milder cases, sometimes called scarlatina, the rash may be the only symptom.i

How do you protect yourself from scarlet fever?

The risk of infection can be reduced through general good hygiene and cleanliness, including:

•Washing your hands often, using alcohol hand rub

•Not sharing eating utensils with someone who has the infection

•Disposing of tissues promptly

What should I do if I think my child has scarlet fever?

•See their GP as soon as possible

•Make sure that your child takes the full course of any antibiotics prescribed. Although your child will feel better very quickly after starting the course of antibiotics, you must complete the course of treatment to ensure that you don’t carry the germs after you’ve recovered.

•Stay at home, away from nursery, school or work for at least 24 hours after starting the antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection.

•You can help stop the spread of infection through frequent hand-washing and by not sharing eating utensils, clothes, bedding or towels.

More information about scarlet fever:-

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Scarlet-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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MEASLES CLOSE TO HOME

Watch out

                          THERE HAS BEEN AN OUTBREAK OF MEASLES IN

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If your child is not vaccinated  make an appointment as soon as possible  for a  MMR vaccination “to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community at large.” The best protection against measles is a two dose regimen of the MMR vaccine, which is safe and more than 99% effective.

Complications of measles can include pneumonia, neurologic involvement, and death. It is well documented that about one in 1000 people with measles will develop meningitis and about one in 1000 will die. “Measles is not a trivial illness. Measles can be very serious, with devastating complications.”

A reader sent me this interesting article which gives food for thought  !!! 

https://medium.com/the-archipelago/im-autistic-and-believe-me-its-a-lot-better-than-measles-78cb039f4bea

 

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SING – A – LONG TO IMPROVE YOUR LUNG CAPACITY AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE

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We have all been introduced to singing since we were born and most parents we will be delighted when they hear their child sing a familiar song for the first time and leap to record the moment. It is just as delightful when you hear your grandchild sing and singing to your grandchild even if your singing voice is limited is always appreciated and met with the  words ‘again, again’ !

As a schoolgirl  I associated  singing with warbling, middle aged women with blue rinses and clearly remember having learn to sing ‘Blow the wind Southerly’ by Kathleen Ferrier as an 8 year old !  I was in the school choir because I liked singing not because I had any musical talent!  Then there was the evolution of pop music And musical shows and then the doors opened wide and  singing for pleasure in the home took on a new light. After all I followed the generation where families used to sing around the piano at home but now it was singing with the radio or TV.

My children have known pop music since an early age and sing-a-longs with the radio on the school run were an important start to the day,  amusing many a commuter as they sidled up alongside us on the Great West Road. Now there are an overwhelming number of genres of music,  which has led to a wider range of choirs than ever before – gospel, rock, church, barbershop, beatbox  to name a few. You can find choirs who do popular chart hits arranged for choir, songs from the shows, or traditional folk music so that singing in choirs has become more popular.

In previous blogs I have alluded to the benefits of singing for patients with dementia and  the feel-good effects of singing in helping in depression. However, experts now believe that joining a choir could improve the symptoms of a range of health problems including Parkinson’s, depression and lung disease.

At a conference of the Royal Society for Public Health, Grenville Hancox, professor of music at The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury, described the changes that can take place through singing together as “extraordinary”.
He told how he and colleagues have witnessed people with respiratory problems learning to breathe more easily, those with depression beating the blues and patients with Parkinson’s disease standing tall and singing loudly.
Prof Hancox is the founder of Skylarks, a new choir for people with Parkinson’s. This disorder of the central nervous system makes normal movements difficult and weakens the voice as the muscles in the face and vocal chords deteriorate. Prof Hancox and his colleague Stephen Clift, the centre’s professor of health education, are undertaking research to find out if choral singing can help with Parkinson’s symptoms, especially those affecting the voice, with choir members undergoing computer-assisted acoustical voice analysis at the start and finish of the study.

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Ian MacDonald, voice specialist with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, reported to have said that it is logical that singing can help in this way. “The vocal cords are muscles,” he says. “By exercising them, you increase tone and restrict tremor, and the voice is less jittery. Singing warms the muscles up – just as athletes warm up theirs.” Being required to stand tall when performing may also improve core strength and benefit these patients.

As Professor Hancox and his colleagues have claimed they have witnessed people with COPD , a debilitating respiratory disease  learn to breathe more easily.  Around the world an estimated 64 million people are struggling to breathe on a daily basis.  The World Health Organization expects COPD to be the third leading cause  could potentially help so many people 

Sonia Page, the specialist respiratory nurse who is leading the current Singing for Breathing choir at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London says it has helped people with COPD “gain greater control of their breathlessness instead of being at the mercy of it.”

Patients have also reported improved respiratory stamina, reduced impact of chest infections and improvements in sleep apnoea (a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep). Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, a consultant chest physician at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, notes that singing cannot reverse the lung damage caused by COPD, but it can still be of benefit.
COPD patients have difficulty emptying the air from their lungs (known as gas trapping), he says, which is why they suffer from shortness of breath – a problem made worse if they panic and start to hyperventilate.
“Singing may help these patients to improve their posture and learn techniques to help control their breathing. In particular, by breathing out more slowly they give their lungs more time to empty, reducing gas trapping,” says Dr Hopkinson.

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The free weekly singing classes held at both Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals are open to all respiratory  at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust to help them relax and learn new breathing techniques.

The sessions are organised by the arts team at the hospital and are funded by charitable donations. The course leaders hope to enhance existing support for respiratory patients with an enjoyable, informal exercise, that teaches a better understanding of breath control through the use of the voice.
Two of the longest-standing members of the singing groups are Harold Dearing, who has asthma and has had several operations on his heart, and John Turner who has COPD. John has been coming once a week to the Brompton Hospital since 2010 and is passionate about the benefits of singing.
“It helps us feel much, much better. Although singing therapy can’t cure the lung damage caused by acute respiratory conditions such as COPD, the combination of breathing exercises and song can help people with breathing difficulties cope better with their disability.”
“Doing everyday ordinary activities becomes increasingly difficult for people with lung problems,” says John. “I find singing gets your lungs working better, you get out of the house, you meet people and you become a social animal again.”
“Way back in 2002 when I was diagnosed with emphysema, it was suggested I would soon need oxygen. Well I haven’t yet needed it and I think this is very largely due to singing.”
Singing to build confidence
Harold Dearing has been with a singing group for three years. As a teenager, he’d sung in a choir, so when he saw the Harefield course advertised he decided to give it a go.
“Every time I go it’s beneficial. I enjoy the exercises, but it’s especially nice to be together singing. It’s confidence-building. The teachers make it fun and make sure you’re in your comfort zone.”

Angela Reith, a music therapist who runs the sessions at the Harefield hospital says she sees several benefits.
“Some find that by the end of the session they breathe more easily. Others benefit especially on a social level. They have a good time and if you’re happy with yourself you can cope better with your condition,” says Angela.
Singing’s feel-good factor
Joanna Foster who runs the sessions at Royal Brompton agrees about the feel-good factor of singing in a group. “Singing together is not just exercises. It’s fun and it releases endorphins.”
Each of the sessions involves breathing exercises and singing. Starting with gentle upper body stretches, the group then practice making different sounds as they exhale such as sighs and fake laughter.
“It’s the same techniques that actors and professional singers use to warm up their voices and overcome nerves,” says Joanna.
This then leads into singing whole songs, learning them in chunks and eventually – depending on the size of the group – singing rounds and harmonies.
A survey of 500 patients taking part in the singing workshops at Royal Brompton and Harefield found that 70% felt markedly physically better after the workshops.

Joining a choir is by no means a conventional solution for such a serious illness.

The research team from Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent felt they had good reason to investigate the effects  on COPD and singing and showed that the benefits are real. Dr Ian Morrison, a senior research fellow and one of the project’s authors, said: “Lung function improved dramatically, particularly after about five months, once people had got used to what they were doing and changed their breathing habits.

It has been observed that people with breathing problems tend to develop a lot of anxiety about the very process of inhaling.  The tendency is to do ‘gaspy’ breathing so they’re taking short little breaths. This actually fills up the lungs without clearing them, making it even more difficult to breathe. Due to their obstructed airways, many people with COPD already find emptying their lungs a challenge.Gasping makes the problem worse and can, in the most serious cases, lead to a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood, which can result in respiratory failure.

In contrast, the techniques used in singing encourage people to breathe in a much deeper, more controlled manner.The whole musculature around the lungs, throat and the upper chest improve with time,” says Dr Morrison. They use what they have much better and you really see a difference in the skill of actually breathing.”

To test its effects, Morrison and his colleagues asked over 100 COPD patients – ranging from mild to severely affected – to attend weekly singing sessions over a 12-month period.They measured their lung capacity with a device known as a spirometer – which looks a bit like a giant breathalyser – and asked participants to fill in a questionnaire to find out on a qualitative level how they were feeling. One of the tests involved measuring how much air a person could force out in a rapid puff. ( Peak Flow Meter)

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On average the people in our study had 50% of expected lung function,” said Prof Stephen Clift, the study’s lead author. “That means about 1.5 litres of air in a one second puff. For healthy lungs, we would expect something more like 3 litres.” Without treatment, people with COPD can expect to see the size of their puff decrease by around 40ml a year.The very best the team had hoped for was that after singing regularly for one year, the size of that puff would stay the same.

Instead we got an increase of 30ml,” says Prof Clift.

“Although the changes are small, the progressive nature of COPD means that any loss of function year-on-year is going to be more significant for them.

“In our study, we not only appeared to halt the decline but people showed a small improvement.”

Dr Morrison added: “There’s also the social and psychological side, because any long term condition is isolating.

A recent Swedish study published in the journal Integrative Physiological and Behavioural Science suggested that it not only increases oxygen levels in the blood but triggers the release of “happy” hormones such as oxytocin, which is thought to help lower stress levels and blood pressure.

Singing has all the benefits mentioned so far and can also be very helpful in improving speech which has become slurred and unclear as a result of Parkinson’s. These same breathing exercises can prevent decline and marginally improve lung function in serious lung disease.

Breathing exercises and vocal techniques used when singing can help with:

  • sustaining the voice
  • increasing and controlling volume
  • varying pitch and expression
  • improving diction
  • controlling vocal speed
  • increasing the fluidity of diction
  • improving Posture

Not surprisingly there are a growing number of informal singing groups for people with Parkinson’s or other illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s. The opportunity to work on vocal and breathing techniques in an informal setting with people who share similar difficulties can be a valuable social activity and can help with self-confidence and overcoming Depression. And you don’t generally need to be able to sing to participate because such groups are not usually choirs and most do not give performances.

Typical singing activities which can help with improving posture, breath work and diction include:

  • taking your voice ‘for a walk’ up and down in pitch
  • lifting the tongue to the roof of the mouth
  • practicing trills (rapid alternation between two adjacent notes of a scale) with lip and tongue
  • making different types of sighs
  • humming
  • echoing tunes
  • singing in rounds (one voice starts and others join in one after another until all are singing different parts of the same song at the same time)
  • experimenting with a variety of pitch, pace and mood in songs.

Singing techniques have also been used to aid fluidity of speech and combat stuttering: Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT) uses song phrases to retrieve speech when this has been lost or weakened. Group singing can give a social outlet and boost self-confidence in people who tend to withdraw socially due to slurred speech and weakening articulation

Prof Clift and Prof Hancox believe the health benefits of belonging to a choir, for some chronic conditions will become indisputable. “There are examples of arts on prescription and gym on prescription,” argues Prof Hancox. “How about singing on prescription, too?”

If after reading this you want to have singing lessons or join a choir try your local church, community centre or school. I have listed some ideas below of various choirs in and around Ealing.

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Ealing Choral Society,

This is one of London’s best choirs: they are an amateur choir, performing with world-class orchestras and soloists in Ealing, as well as Central London and occasionally abroad.

http://ealingchoralsociety.org

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Questors Theatre Choir

imageAnd for more information about joining, read the Why not sing with us? section.

Contact us here or phone 020 8816 7734 / 07802 720333

We are a 60-strong mixed voice choir based in West London, England, and affiliated to Questors Theatre.

http://www.questorschoir.org.uk

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Ealing Common Choir

imageThis was formerly Ealing Common Choir. Singers are welcome and ideally  can read music and sight-read a simple line. You’ve probably sung on and off all your life. Contact us or just come along to a rehearsal on a Thursdays at St Matthews Church, Ealing Common. Further details:-

http://www.smce.org.uk

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Gospel choir/Singology

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Singology is a vocal coaching company setup by Mark De-Lisser in 2000 to provide singing opportunities and tuition to people of all ages. With a strong tradition of choral singing, Singology has now launched ‘Singology Choirs’ to encourage more and more people to get involved in community singing, which has been proven to increase confidence, social cohesion and can also be used as a diversionary activity for young people in the community.

Monday Ealing 7:30pm – 9:30pm Ealing Town Hall, W5 2BY 12th Jan – 23rd Mar

http://www.gumtree.com/p/classes/new-intake-of-singers-for-singology-pop-gospel-choir-in-ealing/1007900384

http://www.singology.com

Singology choirs throughout London are joining together to sing at the Royal Festival Hall.

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The Ealing Rock Choir

image             Grange Primary School,
Church Gardens, Ealing, London, W5 4HN

The Ealing Rock Choir is led by singer/pianist Christina Clark. We have a great year lined up and we would like to invite you to join our choir and take part in the local Ealing and wider London community. We are the Ealing rehearsal of the trailblazing Rock Choir. We often team up with the other local London choirs to perform in much bigger choral groups. These inspirational moments are unique to the Rock Choir experience. It’s unbelievable and you can still join the choir. Just like a gym class or amateur dramatic society, your Rock Choir rehearsal provides an escape from everyday life. One evening a week during term time, your time is completely your own, to do nothing but sing your heart out with friends whilst enjoying our trailblazing formula of fun, friendship and feel-good music. Book a FREE singing taster session at the Ealing Rock Choir and see for yourself!

There’s no pressure to perform if you don’t want to – it’s all about having fun and enjoying some well-deserved ‘me time’. – See more at: http://www.rockchoir.com

The Ealing Rock Choir singing at the Minack theatre, Cornwall. This is a fascinating outdoor theatre with an intriguing story.

http://www.minack.mobi

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Addison Singers

imageThe Addison Singers comprises two classical choirs – an auditioned Chamber Choir and larger non-auditioned Oratorio Choir; and two jazz choirs – an auditioned Jazz Ensemble and a larger non-auditioned all-female Jazz Choir. It also offers three different singing classes to meet the needs of beginners, intermediate and the more competent, experienced singer.

http://www.addison-singers.org.uk/about-us/who-are-the-addison-singers

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Or if or if all else fails try some Kareoke or sing- a – long with the TV or radio

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Posted by on February 8, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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WATCH OUT – PATIENTS BEING FINED FOR OUT OF DATE EXEMPTION CERTIFICATES!

Watch outDuring the last week I have been aware of 4 patients who have been sent fines for out of date prescription exemption certificates

If you suffer from one of the specified medical conditions you are eligible to hold a valid medical exemption certificate.

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Medical exemption certificates are issued on application to people who have:

  • a permanent fistula (for example caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) requiring continuous surgical dressing or requiring an appliance

  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example Addison’s disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential

  • diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism

  • diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone

  • hypoparathyroidism

  • myasthenia gravis

  • myxoedema (that is, hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)

  • epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy

  • a continuing physical disability which means the person cannot go out without the help of another person.

    (Temporary disabilities do not count even if they last for several months)

  • Or are undergoing treatment for cancer:
    including the effects of cancer, 
    or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment.

    Prescription

    When you visit the pharmacist it is important you show the certificate   when handing in the prescription. The pharmacist wil then indicate in the appropriate place that they have seen the certificate. If this box is not completed there is strong possibility that the business prescribing authorities will check their records and if the certificate is out of date you will be issued a fine.

    The letters I have seen show the fine is £50 for not possessing an up to date certificate.

    This can be appealed and may be waived if you are receiving income support. 

    How to apply for a medical exemption certificate

To apply for a medical exemption certificate ask your doctor for an FP92A form. Your GP, hospital or service doctor will sign the form to confirm that your statement is correct. You will also be given a pre-paid envelope. At your GP’s discretion, a member of the practice who has access to your medical records can also sign the form.

Your certificate will be valid from one month before the date that the NHS Business Authrority receives the application form.

The MedEx lasts for five years and then needs to be renewed. You may receive a reminder that your certificate needs to be renewed. If you don’t receive a reminder, it is your responsibility to ensure that it is renewed.

The certificate covers all prescription charges. Further details can be obtained from the following website:-

http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/HealthCosts/1126.aspx

if you want more information about prescription costs including pre-payment certificates if is available on the following website:-

http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/healthcosts/pages/prescriptioncosts.aspx

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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Don’t Believe In Vaccinations?

Two years ago I wrote a blog about the Measles epidemic in Swansea brought about because parents had declined to vaccinate their children. In USA there has been an outbreak of measles in 14 states and President Obama is urging parents to get their children vaccinated. At least 58 of those cases began in Disneyland in Dec. 2014, where large numbers of unvaccinated people made it easy for the virus to spread. Unvaccinated people are now being encouraged to avoid Disneyland parks altogether, lest the virus continues to spread. Last year alone the U.S. saw 644 confirmed cases of the measles, more than triple the number of cases in 2013.

   WHO            According to the WHO in November 2014

 * Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

* In 2013, there were 145 700 measles deaths globally – about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour.

* Measles vaccination resulted in a 75% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide.

* In 2013, about 84% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.

* During 2000-2013, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.m

27 years  ago Roald Dald wrote this moving letter to encourage parents to make sure they immunise their children: the message is still pertinent today.

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Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it.
Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy,” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In 12 hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her.
That was 24 years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.
On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles.
I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.
It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk.
In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.

Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year.
Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.
LET THAT SINK IN.
Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?
They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of aroundu 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance.
I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.
So what on earth are you worrying about? It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.
The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.
Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was ‘James and the Giant Peach’. That was when she was still alive. The second was ‘The BFG’, dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles.
You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.

***If your child has not been immunised contact your surgery to make an appointment withe practice nurse.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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POSTURAL TACHYCARDIA SYNDROME (PoTS)

When my daughter came home and said I have just had lunch with ”Deliciouslyella” and you must read her blog I was intrigued to know what would be revealed. She had been to one of her cookery workshops which have now along with her Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, blog and facebook account  have been overwhelmed with a phenomenal number of hits and there  have been several articles in the popular press during the past few weeks describing her recovery from a rare condition by following a vegan diet.

She describes during an interview, “I couldn’t have guaranteed to walk the length of my flat without needing to lie on the floor. I looked like I was pregnant,” she continues, tracing an invisible bump in front of her slender frame. “My stomach was huge. It was so, so weird… My world was permanently spinning and I was in pain. My body had just completely broken, basically.”

Ella is describing the illness that brought a traumatic change to her life one morning in 2011. She had just finished her second year studying history of art at the University of St Andrews, and all was good. “I was doing really well, I had great friends and a great boyfriend. My only stress was maybe that my essay was 10 minutes late.”
Then she woke up one morning, after a party at which (she promises) she’d had no more than three drinks, feeling as if she had downed the contents of a brewery and been run over by a bus. Her stomach was hugely distended. “I was never really someone who panics, so I just thought, ‘OK, it’s some kind of allergic reaction’, and went home,” she says.She came back to London and was admitted to hospital where she had  countless tests over a period of 12 days but no definitive diagnosis was made.

Then came a stroke of luck when a nurse took her blood pressure one last time and noticed that when Ella was standing, her heart rate was a terrifying 190. When she sat, it fell to 55 or 60. Finally, she was referred to a specialist who diagnosed postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), described as “an abnormal response by the autonomic nervous system to becoming upright”.

She was told there was no cure but began taking the medicine and steroids, which she was told were the only way to manage the illness. Changes to her diet were never suggested. But the pills brought only marginal improvement.

imageElla was still in bed 75 per cent of the time and the remaining hours would be spent mostly on the sofa. House-bound and miserable, she pretended the world outside didn’t exist. “For six months I didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t do anything. I literally sat in my bed eating pick ’n’ mix and watching Grey’s Anatomy.”

The turning point came when she realised that a holiday to Marrakesh, which she and Her boyfriend had booked when she was well, was approaching. He tried to talk her out of it, but Ella insisted. The trip was a disaster. “Everything went wrong. He bought me back semi-conscious, in a wheelchair. It was really bad. But actually it was really good, because it was the first time I’d had to address what was happening.” She decided that conventional medicine was no help.

Googling “natural healing” and “alternative remedies”, she came across a book by Kris Carr, a 43-year-old American cancer survivor who had changed her diet to nutrient-rich, plant-based foods only.

imageShe soon started to feel a difference – a little more energy, a little less pain. Then, after one more relapse, she realised that she needed to make her new diet more interesting if she didn’t want to keep raiding her housemate’s Haribo.

She started her blog, Deliciouslyella.com, adding three new recipes a week. The cooking was simple but imaginative, as she experimented with the new, limited range of ingredients available to her and tried to forget the much longer list of those that weren’t.
“I remember thinking, ‘If I get better, I’ll go straight back to meat’,” she says. But her improving health made her realise that this way of eating was, in fact, curing her. It took 18 months, but Ella is now a picture of health, with glowing skin, a slim and toned body and a great appetite. She still has to be careful about her health and has virtually given up drink, but says she feels “phenomenal”.

Hello and welcome to Deliciously Ella! 

I started the blog as a way of dealing with a relatively rare illness, Posturalimage Taichycardia Syndrome, which I was diagnosed with in September 2011. The illness had a pretty devastating effect on my life – I literally couldn’t walk down the street, I slept for 16 hours a day, had never ending heart palpitations, was in chronic pain, had unbearable stomach issues, constant headaches and the list goes on – it was anything but fun! I tried healing through conventional medicine for about six months but it had little effect on my symptoms and I was still bed-ridden 95% of tohe time. So I decided it was time for something new and began researching holistic, natural healing approaches, which is how I started eating like this. Overnight I took up a whole foods, plant-based diet and gave up all meat, dairy, sugar, gluten, anything processed and all chemicals and additives, which was a pretty drastic change. I literally never ate fruit or vegetables before, my diet instead revolved around Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Chocolate, peanut butter and jelly eaten with a spoon, pick-n-mix and lots of cereal and pasta – I was a sugar monster! So everything you see here is part of my learning and healing process, I’m not a trained chef by any means – everything is self-taught and the result of lots of failed experiments! I also totally understand how daunting the idea of changing your diet so radically is, but it’s single-handedly the best thing I have ever done. Knowing that I’m giving my body the love and health that it needs is an incredible feeling, and even better – everything tastes so incredible now! I’d take a batch of raw brownies over candy any day! 

Eating this way has allowed me to take control of my illness, stopping

the constant pain, restoring my energy and giving me my life back again. It really has healed me, and just eighteen months after starting this lifestyle I’ve been able to come off all my medication and I feel so incredible, better than ever really! I’d never have believed that I could come this far simply through diet; it is just incredible – better than any drug ever. I’ve learnt more on this health adventure than I could have possibly imagined too and I really want to share all of this information with you. It’s my way of turning something negative into something really positive. If I can spread health and happiness with anyone then this is a success! 

More than anything I want the blog to show how easy and delicious healthy food is – it’s so much more than bland salads and iceberg lettuce! It’s all about sumptuous desserts, delicious dips, raw treats and rainbow bowls of incredible veggies, all made with nature’s most natural ingredients. Everything here will nurture and love your body, leaving you feeling incredible. This way of eating is absolutely not about deprivation and starvation but instead it’s about embracing a positive, healthy way of life! Take a look at my food philosophy for more on all the awesome benefits of this lifestyle.I graduated from St Andrews with a Masters in Art History in May 2013 and I’m back home in London working on a lot of awesome projects! I realeased my best-selling app earlier this year, which I’m always working on (it’s available on the iTunes store and the google play store), I’ve also just finished writing my first cookbook and it will be being published January 2015. I also teach cooking classes, host supper and brunch clubs and I’m training as a naturopathic nutritionist at the College of Naturopathic Medicine, so as this blog grows so will my knowledge of health!

Have a wonderful day,

Ella x

http://deliciouslyella.com/philosophy/about/

Deliciously Ella App

imageThe Deliciously Ella App is all about celebrating natural healthy food.It has over a hundred simple, easy to follow recipes, which you and your body will love.

As it happens I remember a short discussion at a doctor revision course in 2013 on the condition Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTs) which Delciously Ella describes as the start of her journey into the world of food and diets. I have been looking for a case of this since then and was fascinated to read her story.

MORE ABOUT POSTURAL ORTHOSTATIC SYNDROME 

http://www.potsuk.org

PoTS was only defined about 20 years ago , it is a form of orthostatic  hypotension which particularly affects people between 15 and 50 and is 4 times more common in women.

When we stand up 500mls of blood descends from the thorax ; a normal autonomic nervous system responds with vasoconstriction, an increase in heart rate and minimal change in blood pressure. In a patient with PoTS there is inadequate peripheral vasoconstriction, and heart rate and catecholamine levels rise further to try to compensate.

This gives rise to

  • Lightheadedness

  • Palpations

  • Feeling faint or fainting

  • Weakness, nausea, fatigue etc

 This condition is more common in patients who have hyper mobility syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and diabetes. It is made worse by standing, prolonged sitting and exacerbated by heat, alcohol and certain foods. It is commonly misdiagnosed as anxiety, panic attacks, chronic fatigue etc hence these patients often develop a mistrust in doctors!

  The diagnosis can be made if there is:-

Positive Stand Test

 *A sustained heart rate increase of 30 beats/ minute within 10 minutes of standing up, in an absence of orthostatic hypotension.

  *Standing heart rate is often 120beats/min or more within 10 mins of standing up.

  * May be accompanied by symptoms of cerebral hypofusion ( lightheadness, brain fog, headaches. fainting) and autonomic over activity ( sweating, shakiness, fatigue) relieved by lying down.

Positive Tilt TableTest.

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 The patient rests flat on a special bed with a footplate whilst BP and heart rate recordings are made. The bed is then tilted (head end up) for up to 45 minutes while further recordings are taken. (Both tests are stopped if the patient faints or if satisfactory recordings have been made).

If you are concerned that you have this condition contact your GP who can easily carry out the Stand test in the surgery

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Training and Advice

 

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COSIE Project – DO YOU NEED THE GREEN DOCTOR?

  • imageAs temperatures fall and there are threats of snow we are all aware that our heating bills will rise  but you yourself or there may be others living near you who will be struggling financially or are ill prepared for the cold weather and this will be detrimental to their health.

  • Are you aware of the appropriate healthy temperature in your home? Ealing Council provide these thermometers.

Thermometer COSIE

 Stay warm

Save energy

The COSIE project, Cold Weather Support in Ealing, aims to help counteract the threat of deaths and hospital admissions during the winter months. Do you know someone who needs its help?

It offers advice, help and support for vulnerable people whose health may be affected by cold homes. The project is running on a first come, first served basis from February to the end of April, as long as funds last. In Ealing it is being managed by the council’s sustainability team.

Sustainability officer Janet Rudge said: “An estimated 14,500 households in Ealing are ‘fuel poor’, meaning they cannot afford to adequately heat their homes. The COSIE programme targets those who are particularly vulnerable to ill health as a consequence of cold homes. Good energy advice can help people to save energy and money, keep warmer and help them access support available to improve their homes and avoid fuel debt.”

You can refer anyone who you consider to be vulnerable in one or more of the following categories:

*More than 75 years old on pension benefits.

*People < 75years old with disabilities or long term conditions.

*People on low income (in receipt of income-related benefits), including those with young children < 5years of age.

*People whose health is threatened by poor heating conditions – or leaving hospital to return to a poorly heated home (in receipt of income-related benefits, or discretionary for emergency situations).

You can call the COSIE referral line

(0800 083 2265 – available from 9.39am until 5.30pm)

to discuss eligibility and if appropriate to arrange a home visit from a qualified energy advisor, the Green Doctor. Applications can also be made on- line

https://secure.ealing.gov.uk/site/scripts/xforms_form.php?formID=122&language=en

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Qualifying residents could also benefit from free home visits by ‘Green Doctors’ who can offer tailored energy advice and support, including winter warmth packs with home and personal heating accessories such as fleece blankets, thermal socks and flasks. Energy saving measures, such as draught-proofing, low energy light bulbs and reflective radiator panels could also be provided.

 

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