Our Resources & Publications
Our Family Nurse Partnership Supervisor, Brenda Coughlan, has been featured on the national Family Nurse Partnership website in a recent blog.
Brenda, who joined the Tower Hamlets Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) team as one of four family nurses when FNP began in 2007, was involved in the first Building Blocks randomised controlled trial study (RCT) of FNP in 2009. Since then more than 500 families have benefited from the support of a family nurse and a programme tailored to their needs. The findings of a data-linkage follow-up study, Building Blocks 2-6, show that FNP positively impacts school readiness and child developmental outcomes.
In the blog, Brenda reflects on how FNP has evolved, on the significance of the nurse-client relationship, and what the latest study findings mean to her.
Follow the link below to read the blog.
This webinar is primarily for patients, families, and carers as well as health care professionals and will focus on responding to children and young people's asthma questions.
You will hear from experts responding to the most common questions children, young people, and their families have on asthma. It will be chaired by Olivia Fulton, Research & policy volunteer at Asthma Research UK/British Lung Foundation and parent of a child with asthma. Experts include Richard Iles: Advisor to SEL Paediatric Asthma Network (formerly respiratory paediatrician at the Evelina, GSTT), Jo Massey and Jakki Sutherland: Children's Asthma Nurse Specialists, Croydon Children's Asthma Service, and Julia Moody: Tower Hamlets GP and CCG Clinical Lead for Children and Young People
For further information and to register click here.
Five X More is holding their third awareness week from 13 to 19 September 2021 to highlight Black women and birthing people’s maternal health outcomes in the UK. This year’s theme is ‘changing the narrative’.
The organisation is committed to changing Black women's maternal health outcomes in the UK. It was initiated in 2019 when two Black mothers came together with the dream of improving maternal mortality rates and health care outcomes for Black women.
The campaign is a weeklong campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the disparities in maternal outcomes for Black women and birthing people in the UK and educating health professionals to take active steps to ensure safer care for Black women. Black women in the UK are four times more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth, and six weeks after in comparison to White women.
During the week, Five X More will be speaking about fertility and the untold stories from Black women and birthing people and discuss the best practices to prevent avoidable risks and harm to all women and newborns during childbirth. A Black-led expert panel will also be discussing the early findings of the Black maternal experience survey.
To find out more about what's happening during the week, click here.
The number of virtual consultations, which sees patients having their appointments with their GP or healthcare staff by phone or video call, have increased hugely since the start of the pandemic and are likely to be here to stay.
However, not everyone is familiar with the technology required for a virtual consultation or what to expect during the call to get the most out of it. A new video created by the South East London Cancer Alliance (SELCA), and starring patients from the service has been released and it includes lots of practical tips on the process of having a virtual consultation and how best to prepare for one.
The patients who took part in the video used their own experiences of having virtual consultations to create the insightful guide for those who are not familiar with video calls.
It’s an excellent resource for any patient having phone/video consultations. The service has also published ‘How can you make the most of your virtual consultation’ Q&As, which can be read online.
Watch the South East London Cancer Alliance’s video about making the most of virtual consultations below.
Watch the video below:
Image and video credit: SEL Cancer Alliance
NHSX has published new digital guidelines to support local NHS leaders and organisations to transform services for patients.
The guidance calls for patients to be able to digitally access their care plans and test results, for trusts to explore new ways of delivering care such as remote monitoring and consultations, and to improve care through the use of electronic prescribing systems.
The What Good Looks Like framework gives NHS managers clear, easy-to-use instructions on what they should be doing to use digital better in their service, and how they should be paying for it.
It describes the common foundation that should be in place across the NHS, from using a secure digital infrastructure to ensuring that digital systems are designed to meet the needs of their staff and patients.
NHSX say the resources are an important step in continuing to digitise NHS services and build on the progress made in adopting digital tools during the pandemic.
The guidelines will be followed up with an assessment process to be outlined by NHSX later this year, so NHS services can identify their gaps and prioritise areas for investment and improvement.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:
"Over the past 18 months we have all appreciated the immense value of technology.
“This is particularly true for the NHS with digital technologies freeing up hospital beds and allowing clinicians to continue seeing patients remotely – and it will be invaluable in meeting other health challenges in the long-term.
"This new guidance from NHSX provides a clear direction to all NHS trusts on how to drive digital transformation forward and transform organisations, which will improve patient care and save lives."
Sonia Patel, NHSX chief information officer, said:
“Talking to leaders across the NHS, there is a renewed belief and confidence in the digital and data agenda and increasing awareness of the importance it holds in supporting a modern NHS.
“I hope these resources are both empowering and enabling in terms of understanding the destination we commonly want to reach across the nation with digital transformation.”
NHSX is also bringing together multiple existing funding pots into one national application process, making it easier for local organisations to bid and for central bodies to ensure funding is allocated fairly.
In future years the proposals would see a move away from national funding programmes, with funding for local technology spend allocated to ICSs.
NHSX has already switched the focus of technology funding to supporting organisations to digitise more quickly.
Local bodies will be supported to reach the ambitions of What Good Looks Like with a range of resources including access to an online knowledge base which will include blueprints, standards, templates, real-life examples and best practice guides.
Blood Pressure UK’s Know Your Numbers Week takes place 6-12 September this year. The campaign raises awareness of high blood pressure and encourages all UK adults to get a blood pressure check.
1.5 million people have had a free blood pressure check during the annual Know Your Numbers! Week, which is the UK’s biggest blood pressure testing and awareness event. Every September, hundreds of Pressure Stations across the UK offer free blood pressure checks in the community.
If you and your loved ones haven’t checked their blood pressure this year, we’re encouraging you to know your blood pressure numbers and take the necessary action to reach and maintain healthy blood pressure. Knowing your blood pressure informs you if you're in a healthy range, ways to manage your blood pressure, and prevent problems such as stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks.
You can read the FAQS below to find out what it means if you have high blood pressure, the problems it can lead to and understanding your blood pressure readings.
Read about what it means if you have high blood pressure (hypertension), how to find out if you have it, and why you should take steps to lower it.
As well as becoming too high, blood pressure can sometimes drop too low. It’s usually nothing to worry about and there are ways to manage it if you need to.
Find out what the blood pressure numbers mean and use the chart to see if yours are in the healthy range.
Over time, high blood pressure can lead to several health problems including stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks.
There are several health problems, also known as risk factors, which can all add up to cause more serious problems in the future.
The proportion of adults with high blood pressure varies all over the world and has changed dramatically over the last 40 years.
To find your nearest free blood pressure check location and learn more about your blood pressure, click here.
The local healthcare system is seeing an increase in severe respiratory illness in children as restrictions ease and people mix more, with cases higher than usual for this time of year and further increases expected over winter months.
Parents are encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe respiratory infection in at-risk children, including a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever), a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).
While respiratory infections are common in children, last winter saw much fewer infections in younger people due to COVID-19 restrictions. This means that many will not have developed immunity and may be at higher risk of severe illness. We may also see more cases than in a typical season.
For most children, these illnesses will not be serious, and they will soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.
Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within two to three weeks, but parents should contact their GP or call NHS 111 if:
Some children under two, especially those born prematurely or with a heart condition, can suffer more serious consequences from these common respiratory infections.
The North East London Health and Care Partnership, of which the Care Group is a member, has made a number of resources and support available on their website for parents. The webpage includes leaflets on where to access local emergency services for children and young people, how to manage bronchitis and how to check for serious symptoms in babies.
For a range of helpful leaflets, further advice and guidance on how to manage symptoms and when to seek help, click the link below to visit the website.
With the summer bank holiday (30 August) coming up, it’s important to know the right place for you to get medical help fast, if you need it.
Please remember to order enough medication ahead of time to ensure that you have enough to last you over the bank holiday weekend. However, some local pharmacies near you will also be open on the Monday bank holiday. You can find the opening hours of your local pharmacies on the NHS website.
You can get an appointment with a GP through our GP Extended Hours Hubs and Urgent Treatment Centre, which will be open on bank holiday Monday (30 August). Out of hours appointments are available weekday evenings between 6.30pm and 10pm, and between 8am and 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays, including during the bank holiday weekend. These appointments can be booked by calling your own GP practice as usual during working hours or by calling 111 out of hours.
If you have any urgent medical needs, you can also visit NHS 111 online for advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
COVID-19 vaccinations will be taking place as normal over the bank holidays so if you have an appointment please attend. Many Vaccination Centres are open for walk-in jabs with no need to book. Please visit Tower Hamlets Council's website to find your nearest vaccination centre.
NHS 111 can also make direct appointments online, by phone, or face-to-face with a variety of health services, including at A&E, Urgent Treatment Centres, specialised mental health crisis services, dental services, and pharmacists for urgent repeat prescriptions and advice. If needed, an ambulance can also be dispatched.
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To get help from NHS 111, you can:
Across the UK 15,980 children have been reached through the Emergency Response grants, with 984 children reached in Tower Hamlets by the GP Care Group’s 0-5 years team. The grants included supporting families in the borough with early learning packs, buggies, supermarket vouchers, beds and cots, highchairs, and much more.
The 0-5 years team earned a big thank you from Save the Children for their part in delivering their Emergency Response Grants to families in Tower Hamlets between June 2020 - June 2021. Becca Lawson from the charity shared a lovely message thanking the team for their part in delivering much-needed support to families during the pandemic and beyond. Becca shared a summary of the emergency response grants in Tower Hamlets that have been delivered over the past 12 months. She said: “I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all of your efforts in delivering such an incredible response for families across the borough. We couldn’t have done it without you.”
“While we currently do not have additional funding for these grants, we are continuing to seek funding on a UK level to support the communities we are working with. If any of our bids are successful, we would aim to allocate a portion of the funding to partners in Tower Hamlets.”
The Grants summary highlights our 0-5 years team’s achievements in supporting families in the borough, including the team reaching 84% of families from a Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) background, and 70% of families living in social housing or with immigration status.
To view the full summary of the Emergency Response Grants, click the link below.
Read the full summary
Here are some responses we received from families who received the grant:
“Brilliant. Having moved many times in the past year we didn’t have any play equipment at all. My daughter loved the learning packs.”
“Baby feeding chair – much easier to feed baby and encourage independent feeding.”
“I used the Argos voucher to buy a laptop for my daughter, which was essential during the lockdown.”
As we settle into the last quarter of 2021, plans are already underway for the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The GP Care Group, along with our partners in the local healthcare system, are working up detailed plans to deliver “booster” COVID-vaccinations and flu vaccinations from 6 September.
For many of our older and most vulnerable residents, along with health and social care workers, it is coming up to the anniversary of when they had their first vaccination and so the next phase of the vaccination programme will see the rollout of COVID-19 booster jabs to offer them continued, long-lasting protection against the virus. Read more information about what we know about the booster jabs so far in the story below.
With the wonderful news that more than 200,000 Tower Hamlets residents have had their first jab, chances are that some of you will have visited The Art Pavilion for your vaccination. After five months of using the picturesque venue as our local vaccination base, the Care Group is handing back the keys to the council to use the location once again in its usual capacity as a local event space. We will miss the serene setting and local wildlife immensely.
Primary Care Networks and pharmacies will continue to deliver vaccinations through local healthcare settings which will be announced shortly.
The GP Care Group will continue to provide a roving team for housebound and ‘hard to reach’ residents across the Borough, as we have highlighted in previous issues of this newsletter.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme visit the GP Care Group website.
After our three anti-racism sessions with brap in the last few months, August’s THT Board focussed on our quarterly finance and performance reports, and future options for the borough partnership within the North East London integrated care system (ICS).
First up, we had an update on the recent SEND inspection. The council thanked partners for their engagement and reported back that inspectors were positive about our self-assessment and our improvement plans, particularly the pace of change in the pandemic. Priority areas of focus are quality of education, health, and care plans; delays in diagnosis for autistic spectrum disorder; gaps in speech and language provision; communications with parents.
Our user voice slot this month focussed on long COVID. We heard from Sally Ramsden of the Yoga for Life project, a community interest company in Bethnal Green that processes three weekly sessions online for a diverse group of people with long COVID. As well as yoga, they offer holistic therapy input, occupational health advice, and peer support. The ethos is “pacing not pushing” yourself.
Two women who attend the group shared their powerful stories with us. Hayley described feeling “like an 80-year-old in a 50-year-old’s body”, struggling with fatigue that requires lying down every hour, inner tremors, pins and needles, pain, and brain fog. It was deeply upsetting to hear how she was repeatedly not believed and dismissed by health services, until she finally received a diagnosis in September 2020. She now has PTSD from long COVID itself plus the trauma of her symptoms being dismissed. Yoga for Life has been a “life raft” - providing a practical, non-judgemental, and welcoming community.
Kardene caught COVID during her work for the ambulance service and faced a rollercoaster of debilitating symptoms. She struggled with her 12-hour shifts due to severe fatigue and had a relapse after her first vaccination. With support from Yoga for Life, her physical and mental health has improved and she’s returned to work on alternative duties. The project’s focus on acceptance has really helped her move forward and she’s now setting up a long COVID support network in the London Ambulance Service.
The Board discussed the need to raise awareness of long COVID and support like Yoga for Life among GPs and Social Prescribers and using co-production to build on people’s experiences and improve the local service response.
The quarterly finance report outlined that the council faces an overall £11m budget gap and the CCG has a £3.1m overspend, though this is COVID costs and should be reimbursed. Learning disability support is the highest level of council overspend, largely due to transitions between children’s and adults’ services. For the CCG, hospital discharge is driving the overspend. The impact of long COVID on adult social care pressures and rise in demand for children’s social care are still uncertain. The quarterly performance report now shows metrics across the partnership, though Board members highlighted children’s health data and ethnic inequities as vital gaps to fill.
The Local Delivery Board gave a brief report. Most of the 35 projects they oversee are on track and the Board is functioning well, the voluntary sector, in particular, find the split between exec and operational Boards more helpful to engage with. Multi-disciplinary teams and care co-coordination is being prioritised with the project team currently confirming what’s in scope. Delays to home care recommissioning are due to undertaking more in-depth co-production with users and carers.
Finally, the CCG presented options for borough partnership accountability within the new ICS arrangements from April 2022. These range from a consultative forum that informs decisions to a joint committee of the ICS NHS body and statutory providers (health and council) or individual directors with delegated authority which could be joint appointments with the local authority and/or across providers. We will be revisiting these options and our ambition as a partnership in the autumn.
I hope everyone has a good summer with some much-needed rest where possible.
All young people aged 16 to 17 in England will be eligible to have a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Monday 23 August to give them protection before returning to school, following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
If you are in this age group, or are a parent of someone in this cohort, an invitation will soon be sent, inviting the young person to receive their vaccination as soon as possible. There is no need to contact us. Parental consent will not be required to be vaccinated.
The vaccine they receive will be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The first dose will provide 80% protection against hospitalisation and protection could be even higher as younger people respond better to vaccines and some will have already had the COVID-19 infection, meaning they will have an even better response to a first dose.
Ongoing work is being carried to check the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine in this age group before the JCVI provides further guidance on whether a second vaccine dose should be offered to healthy 16- to 17-year-olds later to increase the level of protection and contribute towards longer term protection.
Young people aged 16 and 17 who were deemed at higher risk of serious COVID-19 or who are household contacts of individuals (adults or children) who are immunosuppressed have already been invited to have their jabs.
The following groups of children and young people are also eligible, following previous JCVI advice:
For further guidance on this, please visit the Government website.
We have now passed the 200,000 mark of Tower Hamlets residents who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a milestone achievement for the GP Care Group, healthcare professionals, and the borough.
We want to say a huge thank you to our residents, staff, and our volunteers, and everyone working behind the scenes, who has taken the vaccine so far and vaccinated residents in the borough! Your incredible efforts towards helping to keep Tower Hamlets safe is appreciated.
Please continue to encourage take up of the COVID vaccines to eligible cohorts to reduce risk of the virus spreading. With a young population and an average age of 31, this is a critical time for Tower Hamlets and the local vaccination programme.
As part of the programme, nearly 500 residents were vaccinated at the Council's recent summer vaccine festival in Langdon Park. Offering first and second Pfizer vaccinations, residents and particularly those aged 18 to 30 were encouraged to come along, enjoy live music and a free food voucher when getting jabbed.
In addition to pop-up clinics and vaccine events, residents can book their COVID-19 vaccination at a number of local clinics including the Care Group's Art Pavilion vaccination centre in Mile End, Cable Street GP Surgery, and an ever-growing list of community pharmacies. There are also walk-in slots available at most clinics and no ID or documentation is needed for people to access their vaccine.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “200,000 vaccines is an incredible achievement and I want to thank all of our residents who have stepped forward to have their jab. We are a young borough so still have a lot of work to do in making sure anyone eligible gets their vaccine, but this is incredible progress and testament to our health partners and volunteers who have got us to this point.
“With cases of COVID-19 rising across London and the UK in recent weeks, everyone who is eligible should take up the offer of free vaccination. Vaccination, alongside regular testing even without symptoms, is the most effective tool we have against COVID-19.”
Councillor Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing, said: “It’s fantastic that we’ve gone to this significant milestone, but although we’re now in stage 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown this is not the time to get complacent. We know there are still many residents who are eligible but have not yet had their vaccine.
“As the world opens up, we still want to make sure our residents are safe and that we’re all doing everything we can to keep our community safe – getting vaccinated is a huge part of this. We will continue to work hard with our partners to engage with younger people and get as many people in our borough protected against COVID-19.”
Anyone wanting to book a vaccine appointment can do so through the council’s online booking form.
Full details of vaccine clinics in Tower Hamlets can be found on the the council's website.
Last Friday, The Tower Network PCN (NW9) came together to create long-term strategy and to recognise colleagues through an awards ceremony while enjoying a catered dinner.
See below the Tower Network Primary Care Network's vision schematics created by the team during the workshop.
Tower Network Primary Care Network (NW9) Manager, Yash Rangineni commented on the night and said: “The Tower Network Primary Care Network (NW9) organised a facilitator-led workshop last Friday to discuss and plan our long-term strategy. The discussion ensured our merged (NW Networks 3 and 4) networks goals are aligned and integrate well post-merger. We had a very interactive and highly energetic workshop where we came together to draft our Primary Care Network (PCN) vision and set short-term and long-term objectives. Topics on the night included Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme roles, colleague development, Community projects, GP practices workload, and sustainability and patient engagement.
After the workshop, we all enjoyed a lovely team dinner where we celebrated and recognised colleagues for their outstanding work during an awards ceremony. More than 60 people joined the dinner, and it was a grand success. It was a great opportunity for colleagues to meet friends in the PCN, and everyone was very happy to have dinner together after what's been a challenging 18 months.”
Public Health England has updated its guidance for the 2021/22 flu vaccination season. This guidance explains how you can help protect yourselves, your children, and your loved ones against flu this winter.
The guidance includes information for children, eligible adults, and pregnant women, and details why it’s very important that people at increased risk from flu, or who care for someone vulnerable, to have their free vaccination every year.
Flu can affect anyone, but if you have a long-term health condition, the effects of flu can make it worse even if the condition is well managed and you normally feel well. You should have the free flu vaccine if you are:
or have a long-term condition such as:
All those who have any condition listed above or who are:
Those aged 50 to 64 years old will also be offered flu vaccination this year.
It's World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August) and the theme this year is “Protect breastfeeding: a shared responsibility. Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both children and mothers, which is why our Health Visitors, Family Nurses, and Nursey Nurses are supporting families with their breastfeeding journey.
In Tower Hamlets we have full UNICEF baby-friendly accreditation. We believe a mother should be supported to feed her baby, how she chooses, for as long as she chooses and has the support and evidence-based information to achieve this.
All our Health Visitors, Family Nurses, and Nursery Nurses are trained to assess and support breastfeeding and have completed Baby Friendly training. We ensure that our families have access to the specialist Tower Hamlets Baby Feeding Service. The GP Care Group supports those who are breastfeeding by providing evidence-based, up-to-date information about all infant feeding. All our staff follows the World Health Organisation International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
Baby Friendly Infant Feeding Coordinator, Vanessa Wooding said: “For a mother and her baby, breastfeeding will secure the bond between them and provide that baby with all that it requires in the first months of life. This will continue to protect and promote that baby's development as it grows. Breastfeeding can empower and unite women around the world, it reduces health inequalities and supports a healthier planet. Never has it been more important to promote, support, and recognise the impact and advantages of breastfeeding for our recovery and our future."
Our local deaf community in Tower Hamlets will soon have on-demand, video-link access to a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter anytime they visit a Care Group managed GP practice or Community Health Service whenever it’s required.
The Tower Hamlets Advocacy and Interpreting Service (THAIS) has previously highlighted the challenge of providing BSL interpreters at the time of need for our deaf community in Tower Hamlets. The Care Group has now commissioned a BSL App that will be accessible to all GPs and Community Health Services managed by the Care Group.
The on-demand, video BSL Interpreting Service will ensure that deaf patients will have seamless access to a BSL interpreter through a video link anytime they go to their GP practice.
This new approach is a marked improvement on the current system, which sees deaf patients having to wait between three to five days for a BSL interpreter to be booked for their medical appointments.
The installation of this new BSL App in all GPs and Community Health Services is already in progress, and we expect to have it running in all Practices from Monday 2 August 2021. The service will be available even during Out of Hours to cover emergencies.
This new virtual provision of BSL interpreting service is in line with the Care Group’s aim of ensuring equity of access to healthcare for all our patients and improving the quality and efficiency of our Advocacy and Interpreting service.
Cases of the Delta variant now account for most COVID-19 cases in the UK, but how is the virus spreading so quickly? A key factor is that many people who have the Delta variant of COVID-19 don’t even know that they have it because the symptoms appear to be like a bad cold rather than the classic symptoms that many of us recognise as COVID-19 symptoms.
While Tower Hamlets continues to have the highest rates of infection in London, it’s reassuring to see the effect that vaccinations are having on the severity of symptoms in people who unfortunately get COVID-19. The downside though is that many people in Tower Hamlets are still not coming forward for vaccination, new cases are being missed and the disease is spreading because too many people are unaware of the newer symptoms of the Delta variant.
So, what are the symptoms we all need to be looking out for?
A recent ZOE COVID Study showed the current ranking of COVID-19 symptoms after two vaccinations:
With a headache, runny nose, and sneezing now ranked as the most common symptoms of COVID-19, it’s easy to put the symptoms down to nothing more than a bad cold. However, while COVID doesn’t kill in the numbers it once did, “it is still a dangerous and unpredictable disease that can leave people with long-lasting symptoms.”
The Zoe COVID Study highlighted how the previous ‘traditional’ symptoms on the government website, such as anosmia (loss of smell), shortness of breath, and fever rank way down the list, at 5, 29, and 12 respectively. A persistent cough now ranks at number 8 if you’ve had two vaccine doses, so is no longer the top indicator of having COVID.
If you’re over 18 and are yet to have your COVID-19 vaccinations, please don’t delay. Book your vaccination appointment for the best chance of protecting you and your loved ones from dealing with serious effects of the disease.
Did you know that ‘Cycle to Work Day’ is happening on 5 August?
Cycling is for absolutely everyone and is a great way for you to sustain your mental health and wellbeing, enjoy a fun activity outdoors and keep fit. One of the ways you can do this is by cycling to work. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t cycled in years or have never cycled at all. This is just about giving it a go.
To highlight the importance of cycling and to give you some tip tips we spoke to our Chief Finance Officer, Zainab Arian who is an avid cyclist. She talks about the benefits of cycling, why she does it, and what you need to get started.
I started cycling around 2016, after a friend from work suggested that it was a great way to get back into exercise following having children. When I first started, I was an on-off cyclist up until the start of the pandemic. During the pandemic, I started cycling more and began enjoying the quiet roads. I have continued cycling since and now regularly cycle about five to six times a week. I’d say that it has provided me with some space away from the demands of the kids, family, and work.
Cycling has given me some time to myself and has helped me with my overall fitness, physical and mental health plus it has opened my social circle. I was amazed at the number of women who cycle especially from BAME backgrounds, something which I was never exposed to growing up. What stopped me from taking up cycling sooner was not seeing enough representation of people who looked like me on bikes. Cycling has definitely helped me cope with my change in lifestyle throughout the pandemic.
You don’t need specific training to ride a bike. Obviously, you will need to learn how to balance and pedal at the same time. It does help riding with others who are more experienced especially if it’s your first-time riding on the road. This is just so you can start to see how to position yourself in traffic at junctions.
The more you ride on the road the more confident you become. I have started to look at improving my ability on my bike and this does require some specific training, but that’s part of the fun. You can start to progress and train for certain types of riding, and the cycling community is extremely friendly! There is a lot of resources online and locally available (bike shops, your local cycling group) that will help you take the next step.
Wearing a helmet is a must! Apart from that, you can wear whatever you are comfortable in. There are ladies I know who have cycled on road bikes in full abayas (Islamic dress). I personally wear tracksuit bottoms, a long sports top, and a cycling jersey, plus a sports hijab. For shoes, again you can wear anything even flip-flops! But I wear cycling shoes as they give me more control on the bike.
Yes, you can get hot and sweaty, depending on how fast you cycle, but if you take your time and ride at a leisurely pace, you don’t break a sweat at all. In terms of riding to work, my suggestion would be to bring your work clothes with you and change at work. It will make it a lot more comfortable riding into work without having to worry about getting your outfit dirty.
Go for it, the sense of freedom I get when riding my bike is amazing. Once you start you will wonder why it’s taken you so long. You will get to explore your local area and beyond, seeing things you would miss out on if you were travelling by car. Riding a bike is for everyone, you don’t need to be dressed in head-to-toe lycra to fit in. There is a whole community of cyclists that look like ordinary people on a bike! Having said that if you do like a bit of lycra you can’t go wrong joining the two-wheel club!
Over the past 18 months throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our Primary Care Drug & Alcohol Support Service (P-RESET) has continued to offer support to Tower Hamlets residents suffering from substance misuse. We spoke to P-RESET Service Lead, Tariq Wooding to learn more.
The primary care drug and alcohol service (P-RESET) contract is held by GP Care Group and is commissioned by the Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) from the London borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH). The P-RESET service coordinates substance misuse work in GP practices in the borough and operates in partnership with RESET Treatment and Recovery services for problem drug and alcohol use.
P-RESET Service Lead, Tariq Wooding said: “During the start of the pandemic in March 2020, all routine general practice services were suspended, which meant that our P-RESET team had to work remotely. This change becomes key to maintaining the team’s essential shared care opiate substitute treatment for vulnerable patients in Tower Hamlets.
The balance of risk of getting COVID-19 meant that many patients needed to change from daily dose pickups to fortnightly. Many service users valued the trust involved in the dose changes. The team is particularly grateful to local community pharmacies for maintaining supplies for opiate substitutes.
After the first COVID-19 wave declined in June last year, the team was able to re-design their health-based service to allow remote working where possible. This meant separating the face-to-face indicators from the health check and replacing lung function physical tests with a respiratory questionnaire.
Some clinicians gave positive feedback indicating that the questionnaire was more informative than the physical tests. Using the questionnaire to check patients' health gave the team the incentive to add other important features to the health check questionnaire, such as offering the flu jab.
The restructure also meant that most consultation for shared care patients remained remote. When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, the service’s NDTMS (National Drug Treatment Monitoring System) patients were added to the vulnerable COVID-19 vaccination invitation list.
As alcohol is a risk for your health and wellbeing, it is vital that the service continues screening, especially because alcohol intake has increased during the pandemic. This encourages the service specialists to work with the whole GP Practice population to include screening (Audit C/Audit, advice, and if appropriate referral). The P-RESET service has tackled screening by getting practices to screen remotely using a text messaging service called ‘AccuRx’, which is supported by one of the GP Care Group’s locality clinical leads and local GP. The messaging service has allowed practices to send alcohol questionnaires to patients and easily follow up appropriately with advice. This new service is one of the reasons why our alcohol screening figures have stayed consistent throughout the pandemic.”
Under the P-RESET programme in GP practices, people in treatment at RESET for major problems with alcohol and drug dependency are offered a Primary Care Annual Health Check and Plan. P-RESET works with GP Practices to provide patient alcohol screening, identifying problems, giving brief advice, and referral if appropriate to RESET. P-RESET also works with practices delivering shared care in partnership with RESET Treatment for patients in treatment for problems with Heroin and similar drugs.
The Team reported that as of 1 July 2021, 109 out of 913 (12%) have had their complete annual remote health check. This is a great achievement and encouraging that over 60% of patients have started their substance misuse health check in the last 12 months.
Women with drug and alcohol problems in Tower Hamlets are at particular risk of cervical cancer, so the team is grateful to practices and very pleased that there has been an increase in cytology screening from 66% last year to 78%. This comes in line with but is a better statistic than the borough’s average.
PRESET’s work fits in with a major independent review by Professor Dame Carol Black into the misuse of illegal drugs in England. You can read the review here
Our 35 Tower Hamlets General Practices care about the health and wellbeing of their patients with drug and alcohol problems. Throughout the pandemic and beyond the service will continue to work with our practices and RESET developing pathways, offering training, and improving awareness to further support our patients.
The GP Care Group’s Child Healthy Weight Team is pleased to announce that their first ‘Healthy Weight Healthy Nutrition’ training course has been successfully completed by 12 Health Visitors.
Child Healthy Weight remains a key priority both in Tower Hamlets and nationally. The COVID-19 pandemic has further shown the impact that living with excess weight can have on people’s health, and the Government has committed to reducing childhood obesity by 50% by 2030.
The Healthy Weight Healthy Nutrition training course was developed by the Institute of Health Visiting in collaboration with a Dietician and Public Health Nutritionist, Dr Helen Crawley. It aims to support practitioners’ knowledge-base across a comprehensive range of issues around the subject of healthy weight, nutrition, and physical activity for children under five, and their families.
This training was delivered as two-hour bite-sized modules over a five-week period and covered a range of topics from preconception and pregnancy, complementary feeding, eating well and healthy families as well as childhood obesity prevention. 100% of respondents reported feeling more confident in their ability to discuss this topic with families, and all respondents rated the course well.
The next five-week course will commence in the autumn term. Health Visitors can book themselves onto the training course when spaces become available. The course is a great CPD opportunity and has been recognised as best practice training by Public Health England.
Here is what some of our Health Visitors had to say about the course:
“The training reminded me that even when I am visiting a family and my situation is different from theirs. It is easy for me as a practitioner to make assumptions that might not necessarily be applicable to their situation.”
“The fact that over one year’s formula milk is not an adequate food. I knew this to be true, but it was very interesting to learn the elements of the session about iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anaemia and that effects include lethargy and reduced resistance to infection.”
“All the contents of the training particularly the scenarios and discussions. We learned from each other knowledge and experiences. Well done!!”
Last month, the Duchess of Cambridge launched The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood and its Big Change Starts Small campaign to highlight the essential work being done to support positive early childhood experiences.
The foundation centre aims to support work on how experiences in early childhood are often the root cause of today’s hardest social challenges such as addiction, family breakdown, poor mental health, suicide, and homelessness. The Big Change Starts Small campaign report details its mission to transform society through improving early childhood experiences for all.
It’s long been recognised that promoting early positive experiences during a child’s early years (0-5) shapes the developing brain. Positive physical, emotional and cognitive development during this period is so crucial in establishing the building blocks and laying the foundation in childhood to help provide greater resilience to deal with future adversity in adulthood.
The GP Care Group welcomes this campaign as it complements the work, we are doing in Tower Hamlets through our Health Visitors (HV) and Family Nurse Partnership Nurses (FN) to deliver the Healthy Child Programme (HCP) to every new parent-to-be and to those with children under five.
We work closely with our GP and Midwifery health colleagues and share an interest in promoting the best start in life for our clients and infants and their healthy development and future wellbeing.
This is essential to developing a trusting relationship between HV/FNs and parents and is an opportunity to use some of the softer skills in public health nursing. Our HV/FNs show respect and work in partnership with parents so that they can be experts in their own children’s upbringing.
HVs and FNs assess needs, share relevant information and deliver skilled and targeted health promotion to support parents to learn about their developing baby antenatally, and as newborn infants. They teach and show new parents some of the basic elements of how to develop a loving, responsive relationship with their babies and of the lifelong importance and impact of doing so.
Through the experience of and in a discussion about the positive value for their child’s health development in developing relationships, managing emotions, and developing the skills to being able to empathise, parents can more fully understand the value in providing the opportunities for their infants within and throughout their parenting role and in working on and in developing these skills.
Furthermore, helping parents to expose their children to and also by helping them to experience and learn about these building blocks, helps to provide greater resilience to deal with future adversity.
Some parents may need more support, especially if they are struggling themselves or may not have had exposure to positive experiences to help them develop strong foundations from their own childhood experiences. In addition, the impact of poverty and deprivation can affect the ability to see what is needed amongst other more pressing concerns of housing and or mental health issues and/or domestic abuse. This links to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) agenda, local work on developing a Trauma-Informed Approach to service delivery across Tower Hamlets, and the Five to Thrive approach across the Tower Hamlets Together community.
The window of opportunity and support is available/presented to new parents during the early years, especially in pregnancy and when their baby is newborn, when they naturally realise that they want the best start for their infant and developing child. Through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme 0-5 years, parents are supported and helped to offer their child every opportunity and access to these essential building blocks for their child’s happy, healthy, and mental wellbeing development with the potential to shape the adult they will become in the future.
Locally across Tower Hamlets, our Early Years and Children and Families Service Partners offer additional opportunities to access support and services in all of our 12 Children and Family Hubs across the borough.
Provision includes Healthy Child Clinics, stay and play, an invitation to play, Bookstart, infant massage, early learning for two-year-olds and Little Talkers to name a few sessions available across the borough. HV and FNs work closely with our Early Years colleagues and support attendance and referrals to these sessions.
The best investment for long-term health, wellbeing, and happiness of our society is to support access to these positive experiences through providing public health nursing across 0-19 services in Tower Hamlets and working in partnership and collaboration with our health and Early Years colleagues.
We are all working together across Tower Hamlets to bring about positive and lasting change for generations to come.
Watch this TED talk here from 7-year-old Molly Wright on “How every child can thrive by five”
Jenny Gilmour RGN, Dip Nurse, RHV, PGC Man, FiHV 0-19 Service Development Lead
The nursing profession has been essential in the fight against COVID-19 over the last 18 months with nurses putting their lives at risk to protect and care for their patients. But a new piece of research by Shereen Miller, a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (Health Visitor) within the GP Care Group asks the question, “How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the health and wellbeing of NHS nurses?”
Tackling this very important topic as part of her Master’s, Shereen’s research, which is due to be published in a nursing journal, delved deep into the reality of what it means to be a nurse in the NHS and asked the question, who is taking care of our carers?
Learn more about the research in our interview with Shereen Miller.
Health Visitors are Specialist Community Public Health Nurses. We are all either nurses (from any field of nursing - learning disability, mental health, children or adult) or midwives who have gone on to complete further training at post-graduate level. Our work is underpinned by the Healthy Child Programme (0-5 years).
Primarily, our role is to support parents and carers to ensure that every child has the very best start in life, optimising, steady growth, and supporting development. Through mandated contacts and building relationships with our families, we are working intently to reduce health inequalities and inequities. We are in a privileged position, being on the frontline, where we are constantly able to identify and assess the health needs of the population, put the patient at the centre of care and deliver health promotion, health education, act as an advocate for the child and work across domains (supporting families where there are changes in health systems and health economics, supporting and recognising the impact of maternal mental health, supporting relationship building and much more…)
We work closely with members of the multi-disciplinary team and stakeholders to ensure that the needs of the child and the family are met. No two days or two families are the same!
I chose this topic as it is the lived experience of myself and my colleagues in both the community and acute setting (not just health visiting). Protecting the health and wellbeing of nurses is something that I am passionate about, and something that is pertinent to us being able to effectively execute our role. Nurses have a duty to maintain their health and wellbeing as stipulated by the Nurses and Midwifery Council’s (our governing body) Code of Conduct. Not being able to maintain our health and wellbeing and act as role models to the public becomes a ‘Fitness to Practice Issue’.
However, it is widely accepted that nurses have struggled to maintain their health and wellbeing due to the emotional, physical, and psychological impact of our roles. We are the largest group in the NHS workforce and work tirelessly to meet patient needs and deliver effective care. However, in doing so, most nurses neglect their own health needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has not helped, exacerbating existing or presenting new challenges to nurses’ ability to maintain their health and wellbeing.
Approximately a third of nurses are planning to leave the profession within the next 12 months, due to the increased demands of the role and the detrimental effect that working through the pandemic at the pace that they have been has had on their health and wellbeing. It is not just the physical, emotional and psychological effects that are alarming, many nurses are in considerable amounts of debt; 90% of nurses are now borrowing money from creditors to pay for basic amenities and/or are borrowing money from friends and family. Nurses are wholly disappointed by their employing organisations who they feel are not supporting them through innovation, effective strategy, and a bottom-up approach to support their health and wellbeing. True burnout is commonplace, with many nurses simply ‘functioning’, many are making mistakes in their work where they wouldn’t normally. Equally, many are concerned about a major incident occurring and them being held accountable and ultimately appearing before the Nursing and Midwifery Council and losing their pin number (and therefore their ability to practice).
That up to 40% of nurses skip meals. Many nurses feel undervalued. Indirect trauma is increasingly resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder. Many nurses are experiencing loneliness which in itself has been recognised as a public health emergency. Nurses are the group most likely to commit suicide, female nurses are at higher risk – this group is 25% more likely to commit suicide than the national average. That eight in 10 nurses have a mental health condition/illness.
In the last three years, I have delivered presentations/lectures to Specialist Community Public Health Students and Student Nurses at Universities discussing the importance of maintaining their health and wellbeing. Early in the pandemic, I delivered exercise sessions virtually to a group of nurses. Now, I would like to turn my attention to employing organisations and support them to devise strategies that will support the wellbeing of nurses, strengthening the workforce, and subsequently improving patient outcomes.
My work has been well received by colleagues who feel that it has given them a voice and an opportunity to share their experiences. Equally, it has been an eye-opener to others on the true lived experience of the NHS nurse and the duty of care that employers have to support the workforce and the role that they play to ensure that the nurse is ‘Fit for Practice’.
I am currently, working on turning my research into an article for publication in a nursing journal. In the meantime, people can contact me if they would like me to deliver a guest lecture/presentation.
Email Shereen here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that ‘Cycle to Work Day’ is happening on 6 August?
Tower Hamlets Council is holding a four-day summer festival-style event at Langdon Park that will offer free Pfizer jabs (first and second doses - if it has been at least 8 weeks since your first Pfizer jab) along with the opportunity to enjoy free live music and free food with loved ones.
The festival is being held to encourage people to have their COVID-19 vaccination to protect the Tower Hamlets community.
The festival is open on the following dates:
Address: 33 Bright Street, London, E14 0RT
Please share the festival widely with your patients, friends, and family.
Download the flyer
We extend a warm Care Group welcome to Mary Marsh who joins the organisation as the 0-19 Clinical Director.
Mary’s role is a six-month secondment from North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT). Over the next 6 months, she will work inclusively with all colleagues to strengthen the excellent work already provided within the 0-19 Service to ensure the highest quality and standard of care to Tower Hamlets residents.
Mary will be focusing on practice standardisation, digital transformation /blended pathways, role sustainability to include preparation for SCPHN apprenticeships and the 0-19 clinical effectiveness agenda, such as training, shared learning, clinical audit and research.
We asked Mary to share a few words about her career background, and she said: “Hello everyone. I would like to say a huge thank you for my lovely warm welcome to the wonderful GP Care Group. I am really very excited to back in Tower Hamlets after 17 years in my new role as Clinical Director 0-19, supporting the excellent work of the Health Visiting and School Nursing Service.
“A little bit about me...I hold a very strong clinical and leadership background, and affiliation to the East End of London. I trained at the Royal London Hospital and have worked locally across North East London in Acute Paediatric nursing, School Nursing, and Health Visiting roles. Since 1997, I have managed community services across a range of services - 0-19, Specialist Children, Safeguarding, LAC, MASH, as well as transformation roles. This involves working with strategic and corporate services, locally, regionally, and nationally, such as Public Health England and Institute of Health Visiting.
I do like to be as hands-on as I can, not only to support my own clinical credibility but I actually truly enjoy working with and helping people. Currently, I am working some weekend shifts in a local vaccination centre as a Clinical Assessor/vaccinator.”
“I am one not to do things alone, so will be knocking all doors to support our ongoing very exciting journey.”
England is moving to the final stage of easing COVID-19 restrictions today, Monday 19 July. Although the government has announced that almost all legal restrictions on social contact have been removed, it is important that you continue to do everything you can to keep your loved ones and community safe as COVID-19 infections continue to rise.
Wearing face coverings in GP Care Group locations, crowded places, and on public transport will help us control the spread of the virus and give people the confidence they need to go about their daily lives.
Tower Hamlets Council Mayor, John Biggs said: “While national restrictions are being lifted, I think the government should be encouraging people to continue to wear masks. It’s important to recognise we still have a duty to one another and wearing a mask in certain situations will continue to keep our community safe.
COVID-19 is very much still here. Cases are rising rapidly and a third wave of the pandemic is underway. The COVID-19 intensive care unit has had to be reopened at the Royal London Hospital.
It is crucial that we remain vigilant and continue to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus. This includes taking regular tests and taking up the offer of both vaccine doses when it's your turn.”
We all have a part to play in continuing to keep Tower Hamlets safe.
From Monday 19 July, you must do the following as part of Step 4 of the government’s roadmap:
Click here to find out what you should do to protect yourself and others
Are you yet to have your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
From 17-20 July a series of vaccination clinics are available to support residents to come along and easily get their COVID-19 jab. You can get your NHS jab at the below locations:
George Green School
100 Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, E14 3DW
Saturday 17 July, 10am - 4pm
Vallance Rd, London E2 6HD – near Bethnal Green station
The Art Pavilion
Clinton Road, Mile End Park, E3 4QY
Open 7 days a week - 8.30am - 7.20pm
For more information about vaccination clinics in Tower Hamlets click here.
All clinics have a walk-in option – no appointment needed nor any I.D or GP registration.
The clinics will be offering the Pfizer vaccine and giving first and second doses. Second doses will only be given 8 weeks since you had your first jab.
If you need a second AstraZeneca vaccination, you will need to be book an appointment using the Council's Dedicated helpline on 020 7364 3030.
Appointments can be booked for vaccinations if preferred. Find out more
England’s Chief Nurse has today reminded the public that everyone accessing or visiting healthcare settings must continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.
Covid restrictions will end in many settings in England from Monday.
However, Public Health England’s infection prevention control guidelines and hospital visiting guidance are set to remain in place for all staff and visitors.
That means NHS visitor guidance will stay in place across all health services including hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, optometrists, and pharmacies to ensure patients and staff are protected.
Staff, patients, and visitors will also be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting any care setting as well as using face coverings, masks, and other personal protection equipment.
The NHS will continue to support staff in ensuring that the guidance is followed in all healthcare settings.
Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May said: “Face coverings and social distancing measures will remain in place across healthcare settings so that the most vulnerable people can continue to safely attend hospital, their GP surgery, pharmacy or any other healthcare settings for advice, care, and treatment.
“And it is important for the public to continue to play their part when visiting NHS and care settings to help protect our staff and patients, particularly those who may be more vulnerable to infections.
“As restrictions are lifted in many places on Monday everyone has a part to play in helping to control the Covid by getting vaccinated and acting responsibly.
“It is vital that in healthcare settings, we do all we can to reduce the risk of infection for those working in our services and those who need our care.”
Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “Face coverings have played an important role in healthcare settings, helping protect vulnerable patients, staff, and visitors by limiting the spread of this deadly disease and this guidance remains in place.
“We expect patients, visitors, and NHS staff to continue using face coverings and maintain social distancing in all healthcare settings as we cautiously lift restrictions on Monday.
“I urge everyone to play their part and think of those more vulnerable than you when visiting your local hospital or GP surgery.”
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said: “It is absolutely right that basic infection prevention and control measures stay in place in healthcare settings. Simple steps such as wearing a face mask and keeping a safe distance away from others are a minor inconvenience but could have a profound positive impact when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable and I strongly support the chief nurse with this clear reminder.”
Jude Diggins, Interim RCN Director of Nursing, Policy and Public Affairs said: “The recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases shows that we have some way to go before being free from the pandemic. The public understands the importance of face masks, social distancing, and vigilant handwashing in all health and care settings. These must continue in order to protect patients and nursing staff thus helping to ensure the NHS has the capacity to treat everyone who needs it if pressures keep increasing.”
Eddie Crouch, Chair of the British Dental Association said: "These guidelines are in place to protect patients and staff. When visiting a dentist face coverings, social distancing and handwashing remain fundamentals not optional extras. Wider changes that take place on Monday will have no impact on how the public should approach accessing our services."
Thorrun Govind, Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England said: “Pharmacists and their teams are working really hard to support patient care and the public can do its bit to help keep people safe. While some pharmacies are in retail environments, they’re still a healthcare setting and have been relied upon to support and protect the public throughout the pandemic. I’d urge everyone entering a pharmacy or any healthcare setting to wear and mask and maintain social distancing to reduce the risk from COVID-19 to both patients and staff.”
UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Although restrictions are easing, NHS staff are under pressure trying to clear the long waitlists that have built up during the pandemic. At the same time, Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly and many people remain vulnerable. It’s vital that staff know they will be kept safe and the public is clear that measures like social distancing and mask-wearing will still be needed to stop the spread in healthcare settings."
Are you pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding? Have you got questions about getting a COVID vaccination?
There's so much information and misinformation around about the COVID jabs, particularly when it comes to pregnancy and fertility. Advice seems to change all the time and it's can be hard to know where to look for the most up-to-date information.
Maternity Action, NHS London, Public Health England London and GLA are hosting a FREE online Q+A session with an expert panel including midwives, doctors, and fertility specialists on 13th July 2021 1-2pm, to include:
The Q&A event will be informal and a great chance to ask medical experts about any concerns or confusion over the COVID jab and pregnancy/maternity.
Even if you don't have questions, feel free to attend and listen to the most up-to-date advice from the experts.
Are you a new parent looking for advice on how you can feed your newborn?
Barts Health NHS Trust is sharing 73 baby feeding tips this week to mark the 73rd anniversary of the National Health Service founding (6 July).
The NHS has been caring for women having babies since 1948 and healthcare professionals have continued to provide this service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.
Barts Health is implementing the standards of the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, which is about infant feeding and relationship-building within new families - and to mark this they are giving parents useful tips on responsive breastfeeding, feeding patterns for a newborn, skin-to-skin contact, premature babies and breastmilk, newborn jaundice, and much more.
Click here to access the tips.
I'm sorry I didn't manage to get my usual briefing out in June. Like many local people, I was devastated to hear about the sudden death of Cllr John Pierce, who was a very close friend and like an uncle to my two boys, so I took a bit of time out. John was a wonderful person, full of passion for the local community, as the many tributes in the past three weeks have shown.
This month, I'm reporting back on the June and July THT Boards, but first I wanted to say a huge congratulations to everyone involved in the HSJ award win for the outstanding partnership work that delivered the shielding programme for extremely clinically vulnerable children. It's such a huge achievement and a real testament to the hard work, trust, and innovation of teams across the partners.
We had two great user engagement slots at our recent Board meetings. In June, we heard about the personal health budgets pilot, which used co-design to develop a new process and support planning tool. It was really positive to see the very practical outcomes of these "digital support plans" for people, to meet their health and wellbeing goals while reducing digital exclusion and isolation.
In July, we had a really impressive presentation from Mominah and Sarina from the Barts Youth Squad. This forum includes 13 to 25 year olds who meet monthly and the group has increased hugely since it went virtual. They've helped Barts to recruit staff and improve guidelines, develop an augmented reality card game that aids choice and design-making, improve policies on CYP admissions and transitions, produce videos on topics including sectioning and involving parents, created tailored advice on COVID19, and deliver the 15 Steps Challenge to test how child-friendly wards are. Their clear messages from young people for the Board were that mental health is just as important as physical health, and transitions from paediatrics to adult care needs significant improvement. They also shared the varied benefits of participating in the Youth Squad for their knowledge, friendships, confidence and career.
The main items in both June and July were our further development sessions on anti-racist leadership, facilitated by the charity brap. In June we interrogated whiteness, which brought to the fore how white is itself a racialised identity, with a profound impact on how we walk through the world. We reflected on our responsibility as white leaders to understand and name this, recognise how we benefit from systemic racism, and have the courage to step in even if we fear getting it wrong. We looked at white fragility - when people are quick to erupt and be defensive - and how the impact on people of colour is not fragile, but a form of white racial control. My big take away was that to move forward, we must write down what has stopped us from knowing what to do about racism - and this is your map for action. This video is a really powerful summary.
July focussed on systemic racism and we looked at inequities in maternity outcomes as a case study, to understand how it is showing up in health and care systems. Themes we identified included white dominated spaces with white bodies taken as the default; black and brown people not being listened to or believed, further damaging trust; "standard” care not accommodating diverse needs; interpersonal interactions shaped by bias, stereotypes, micro aggressions; the workforce not being representative, and even when it is whiteness can dominate culture; denial, defensiveness, rationalisation – not taking responsibility and blaming the victim.
We started to talk about how as a Board we can create the conditions for culture change, with visible collective commitment to anti-racism and honesty about where we are now; shifting the tone and parameters of the conversation; daily micro-affirmations of anti-racist practice, and challenges to stereotypes and bias; creating safe spaces for all staff to discuss issues and raise concerns without defensiveness, blame or shame. We concluded with a strong call to action from brap that multiple micro-changes can add up to systemic change - we need to "think relationally and act systemically". Our final session with brap in October will focus on the concrete steps we need to take, individually and collectively, to deliver anti-racist leadership throughout the partnership.
Did you know that our walk-in clinics are now running seven days a week?
We are making it easier than ever for everyone aged 18 and over to get their COVID-19 vaccine. That's why we're holding first dose walk-in clinics at The Art Pavilion, Clinton Road, Mile End Park E3 4QY 7 days a week, 8.30am - 7.20pm.
Everyone is welcome at our vaccination centres, whether you have documentation or not. This includes migrants, those with insecure immigration status, and homeless people.
For directions to our vaccination centre, please click the link below.
Those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine can also book an appointment by calling Tower Hamlets Council’s dedicated helpline on 020 7364 3030.
Find out more
Did you know that The Public Health England National Migrant Health Team has produced two animations aimed at healthcare professionals in England?
Due to the long-standing multiple barriers migrants face in accessing health services, including immunisation, there is a need to increase knowledge of entitlements to NHS services and of vaccination among healthcare professionals who support migrants in their service.
These animations aim to dispel fears of being charged for free NHS services, supports Public Health England's role in reducing health inequalities by clarifying entitlements to healthcare, and upholds the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Please watch a share the animations below with your friends, family, and those who will benefit from seeing the videos.
Clarifying NHS entitlements for migrants
Keeping up to date with vaccinations for migrants
There have been important changes made to Refuge’s National Domestic Helpline, to increase access for women who might otherwise face barriers in seeking support.
British Sign Language access
Deaf women can now receive free, confidential support from our National Domestic Abuse Helpline Advisers via qualified British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters. Refuge developed this service in partnership with SignHealth, which provides the only specialist domestic abuse service delivered in BSL. Women can follow the BSL symbol on the National Domestic Abuse Helpline website, watch a BSL video that explains the service and how to access it safely, then simply click on a button to connect with an interpreter. There's no sign-up required.
BSL interpretation is available 10am - 6pm, Monday - Friday (some deaf women may also want to access a Live Chat, which is open from 3pm until 10pm on weekdays).
Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Refuge has also translated all the content on the National Domestic Abuse Helpline website into Polish, Bengali, and Spanish, with more languages planned. This includes information on spotting the signs of domestic abuse, supporting a friend, safety planning, rights and options and how women can receive support from the Helpline. Users can change the language by clicking the globe in the top right-hand corner on desktop, and in the menu list on mobile.
If you have any questions about these changes, please contact Helpline Manager – National Domestic Abuse Helpline, Charlotte Eastop on email@example.com
Please do share this news with anyone who might find this information helpful.
Big congratulations to #TeamTowerHamletsTogether for winning the Local COVID-19 Response Partnership Award at last night’s HSJ Partnership Awards 2021.
Tower Hamlets Together, the borough’s partnership of local health and social care organisations, of which the GP Care Group is a member, won for our work to create a “Family-Focused Multi-Agency Shielding Support for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Children”.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges to clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) children.
For these children, shielding in Tower Hamlets meant not attending school, minimal outdoor play, and limited social interaction. The project team developed a multi-agency group to ensure that children were correctly identified, and their families and schools were informed and supported.
Around 800 families with CEV children were contacted with 903 referrals made to services for children and families. ‘Play-bags’ were offered to CEV families to give children the opportunity to play and learn whilst shielding.
This recognition by HSJ Partnership Awards is a testament to all the work put in by everyone who was part of the project.
The editor of the Health Service Journal and host of the awards evening, Alastair McLellan, offered his congratulations to the teams on their success, “The entrants this year have once again been of the highest calibre, and each of the winners at the HSJ Partnership Awards has been chosen based on their outstanding commitment to innovation and collaboration in healthcare, I’d like to offer my congratulations to Tower Hamlets Together on winning the Local COVID-19 Response Partnership Award at this year’s HSJ Partnership Awards.”
Commenting about winning the award, Care Group Joint CEO Tracy Cannell said: “It was a true joint effort, jointly led and delivered with primary care services going above and beyond expectations to care for children and their families. This project is a reflection of how we have worked in all services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to support Tower Hamlets residents. I am also extremely proud of how our staff have responded and the efforts they have gone to during this difficult time.”
Attending the awards ceremony, which took place at the Evolution London on Tuesday 29 June 2021, was a small team comprising our very own Tracy Cannell, Kam Kaur, Zubeda Khuyam (Nursery Nurse in School Health), and Katie Cole Associate Director Children and Young People Public Health.
Well done all!
The full list of winners for the HSJ Partnership Awards 2021 can be found here: https://partnership.hsj.co.uk/
This month Community Child Healthy Weight Lead, Phoebe Kalungi shared a peek into what it’s like tackling childhood obesity across Tower Hamlets.
Phoebe said: “I am one of those people who has always known what they wanted to do from a young age. At 12 years old, for reasons I cannot remember, I decided that I was going to study nutrition and grow up to work for the World Health Organisation.”
“I am most proud knowing that the work I do makes a real difference in the lives of children and families. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I don’t work in vain. I am also fortunate to work with such dedicated and helpful colleagues in the Care Group and externally across the borough. There is a real ‘can-do’ and collaborative attitude in Tower Hamlets that is very refreshing.”Read the full article
Are you looking for something fun and creative to do as a family? Why not join Samuday Studios for their socially distanced family arts and crafts event at Plashet Park E6 1DQ on 9 July from 3pm to 8pm. The event is free to attend.
The event will link art to the benefits of improving your health and wellbeing and is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your family and feel inspired to create.
If you’re interested in attending the workshop and want to reserve a place, please click the link below to register. For any questions you may have, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07789162932.
As a thank you to participants, Samuday is offering a £10 voucher for those who wish to submit their artwork. Your art will be used to develop products that will be sold to help communities.
Calling all Tower Hamlets parents of newborns or parents-to-be!
You probably already know about the Redbook - the digital health record for babies, but did you know that you can now access an exciting new digital version, designed to help you manage your child’s health from the comfort of your home?
So far there are 553 parents in Tower Hamlets signed up to the new digital version ‘eRebook’, known as ‘eRedbook’. This platform gives parents more confidence and control over decisions about their child’s health. You can easily store pregnancy scans and photos, record questions for upcoming Health Visitor and GP appointments, record development milestones, as well as any identified health and care issues.
This can all be done via a couple of clicks on your smartphone or computer.
To encourage even more people to have their COVID-19 vaccine, we have joined the #IHadMyJab campaign. As part of this, Tower Hamlets MP for Poplar and Limehouse, Apsana Begum visited our Art Pavilion Vaccination Centre this month to get her COVID-19 vaccine jab.
She praised the GP Care Group for the smooth running of the centre and shared the message: “I’ve been to the Art Pavilion vaccination centre and had my first dose of the COVID vaccine. If you do get a text message, please do take up the offer to protect yourself and your loved ones. I had a pretty smooth experience, and it was over in really a few minutes. I feel great and I hope you’ll join me in taking the vaccine and moving forward together.”
If you’ve had your jab or you are booked in for your vaccination, please encourage others to have their jab by sharing a photo of yourself afterwards outside the vaccination centre and posting this on social media using the hashtag #Ihadmyjab. Please spread the news to family and friends.
We have an exciting opportunity for an experienced senior Practice Nurse to join our Open Doors team as a Clinical Tutor. If you are seeking to develop or consolidate skills and you have a strong history of personal development and specialist training in areas specific to General Practice settings, apply now for this opportunity.
Closing date: 4 July
If you have an interest in school health, hold a SCPHN School Nursing qualification, and enjoy being part of a forward-thinking organisation, the below roles are right for you.
Closing date for positions: 4 July
School Nurse - Specialist Community Public Health NurseApply now
Bank Community Staff NurseApply now
Bank School Nurse - Specialist Community Public Health NurseApply now
Are you a part-qualified Management Accountant, who is undertaking your studies towards full professional accountancy qualification? Joining our Finance team to produce monthly management accounts and help our Services with financial challenges, maybe the role for you. To apply for the position, please click the link below.
Closing date: 5 July
The GP Care Group and Mile End East Bromley by Bow CIC (MEEBBB) are looking for highly motivated, innovative candidates to join our General Practice Teams as a PCN Physician Associate. If you can work collaboratively within a Network of GP Practices, we’d love to hear from you.
Closing date: 12 July
We are still here to support you
It’s Breastfeeding Celebration Week (21-27 June) and the theme this year is how partners and the wider family unit can support breastfeeding initiation and duration. A key focus will be how to get the whole family involved and bond with the baby.
To help support you and your family through your breastfeeding journey, our services will continue to promote, protect, and support you during COVID-19 and beyond. Our wonderful Health Visiting and Family Nurse Partnership services are offering face-to-face consultations for those in particular need, video chat, telephone consultations, and a duty advice line. All the information and support the services offer is research and evidence-based and the information is most up to date.
Our fabulous Tower Hamlets Baby Feeding Service continues to offer bedside contacts with new mothers in the hospital and is following up with postnatal clinics and video calls to all breastfeeding new mothers. The antenatal and support groups are also continuing to support mothers online here.
It's never too early to start thinking about how you're going to feed your baby. But you do not have to make up your mind until your baby is born. Some of the benefits of breastfeeding are:
Breastfeeding has long-term benefits for your baby, lasting right into adulthood.
Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts, and the greater the benefits.
Breastfeeding can help to reduce your baby's risk of:
Some studies have also found that breastfeeding for at least six months may reduce your baby's chance of getting childhood leukemia. But more research is needed into this.
Giving nothing but breast milk is recommended for about the first six months (26 weeks) of your baby's life.
After that, giving your baby breast milk alongside solid foods for as long as you and your baby want will help them grow and develop healthily.
Breast milk adapts as your baby grows to meet your baby's changing needs.
For more breastfeeding advice visit the NHS Start 4 Life website.
Click here to watch our interview with first-time mum, Rebecca who talks about how our Tower Hamlets Baby Feeding service has supported her during her breastfeeding journey.
NHS Start 4 Life: Breastfeeding advice Click here
UNICEF: Support for Parents Click here
UNICEF: COVID-19 Guidance and Resources to support you Click here
If you need support, you can get in touch with any of the Baby feeding helplines below:
Tower Hamlets Baby Feeding Service – Tel: 02035942591 or call/text on 07961609626
Facebook | Twitter – Follow @b2bth
National Breastfeeding Helpline – Tel: 0300 100 0212, 9.30am – 9.30pmBfN Supporter line (Bengali / Sylheti) – Tel: 0300 456 2421, 9.30am – 9.30pmLa Lech League – Tel: 0345 120 2918NCT – Tel: 0300 330 0700, 8.00am – 12.00 midnight
Did you know that our walk-in clinics are now running seven days a week until 11 July?
We are making it easier than ever for everyone aged 18 and over to get their COVID-19 vaccine. That's why we're holding first dose walk-in clinics at The Art Pavilion 7 days a week until 11 July.
Find out more
People aged 18 and over in north east London are now being urged to come forward to have their COVID-19 vaccination and last Saturday a big NHS event vaccination drive at the London Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park drew thousands of people who showed up to have their first jab.
Last Saturday also saw the Care Group hosting a walk-in vaccination clinic at The Art Pavilion for undocumented migrants and those with insecure immigration status. The successful event saw around 1,000 individuals have their jab, with about 80% of those vaccinated falling into those groups.
Details about the event was widely shared on social media, with hundreds of retweets (even from the Mayor of London) and comments expressing appreciation of the ‘no questions asked’ approach.
Channel 4 News came to cover the news, and they interviewed the Care Group’s Joint CEO, Tracy Cannell who reiterated the importance of ensuring everyone in Tower Hamlets has access to and are able to have a COVID-19 vaccination.
Watch the full Channel 4 News report below.
150,000 residents in Tower Hamlets have now received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with over 73,000 residents fully vaccinated with two doses. While the numbers mark a huge achievement for the GP Care Group, Tower Hamlets Council, and healthcare professionals, there are still more eligible residents yet to take up the vaccine.
We want to say a huge thank you to residents, our healthcare professionals, volunteers, and everyone working behind the scenes, who have taken the vaccine so far and vaccinated residents in the borough! Your incredible efforts towards helping to keep Tower Hamlets safe are appreciated.
In Tower Hamlets, residents can book their vaccine at a number of local clinics including The Art Pavilion in Mile End, Cable Street GP Surgery and community pharmacies, Lincoln pharmacy and Lansbury pharmacy. The council also runs pop-up clinics at the East London Mosque, Granby Hall, and other community spaces.
Anyone eligible can book their appointment at mass vaccination clinics. The closest to Tower Hamlets is Westfield Vaccination Centre (Olympic Park East).
Please continue to encourage take-up of the COVID vaccines to eligible cohorts to reduce risk of the virus spreading.
Sickle Cell Disorder is the most common genetic condition in the UK with more than 15,000 people having the condition. Despite this, not many people are aware of the condition and its symptoms.
In recognition of Sickle Cell Awareness Day (Saturday 19 June), the Care Group joins efforts to raise awareness of the condition by sharing how our Health Visiting team supports families in Tower Hamlets who are dealing with Sickle Cell.
Sickle Cell disease is inherited from both parents while the sickle cell trait is inherited from just one parent. The condition is not contagious, however, the only possible cure for the disorder is a bone marrow transplant but this is only possible for a limited number of people who have a suitable donor.
As a genetic disease, anyone can have it although it predominantly affects people from African and Caribbean backgrounds. In the UK, approximately 300 babies are born with Sickle Cell each year. Read more about Sickle Cell here.
The Antenatal and Newborn Screening Programme across the UK for pregnant women includes checks for Sickle Cell. Pregnant women have tests that aim to detect the Sickle Cell trait and to see if they are positive to it. The partner will also be offered a blood test as the chances of passing on the trait and condition are increased if both parents are positive.
One of the Care Group’s Health Visiting clinical leads, Lola Oloko said: “Expectant women in Tower Hamlets are supported by Heath Visitors who work closely with the Barts Health Community and Screening Haemoglobinopathy Clinical and the Midwifery antenatal and newborn screening programme coordinators.
“If it is discovered that a baby has sickle cell disease the child and family begin to receive support and treatment from the Haematology team, and the Haematology team gives the results, and the child is referred to the Haematology Team. However, if a child is a carrier support is given if parents should they want further counselling but all families provided the booklet or link to the Public Health England.
“Health Visitors play a big role in supporting the family by offering a detailed care plan as the impact of having a child with Sickle Cell disease can have a huge effect on the family dynamics, including the parents’ relationship and the needs of the other children, as the case may be.”
All newborn babies are offered the Newborn Screening blood test (also known as the heel prick test) which is carried out by a midwife when a baby is five days old in the UK. The test is also offered to babies who move to the UK up to when they turn one.
Health Visitor Jenny Gilmour said: “This is so that, along with other inherited and treatable diseases, the Sickle Cell disorder or trait can be identified, and treatment offered promptly if the baby gets an infection. Referral for specialist management can also be arranged if required. Health Visitors and Specialist Midwives can support new parents if their baby is diagnosed at any point with the Sickle Cell disease or sickle cell trait.
Ensuring families dealing with Sickle Cell get the support they need is vital. Lola Oloko said: “Health Visitors routinely follow up and check with mothers that the heel prick blood spot check is carried out by the midwife. The result of the test is received at the six weeks Health Visiting postnatal review. We follow up if the results don’t come through.”
Regarding Health Visiting training on Sickle Cell, Lola said: “In usual circumstances, Health Visitors would have a yearly training session on all blood spot screenings, one of which is to detect Sickle Cell, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, this session will be rearranged.”
To learn more facts about Sickle Cell watch the video: 10 Facts about Sickle Cell Disorder (World Sickle Cell Day 2020) - YouTube
Visit the Health Visiting page on the GP Care Group website.
All Tower Hamlets residents aged 18-years-old and above are invited to come along to have their vaccination on Saturday 19 June from 10am to 8pm at the London Stadium (West Ham) in the Olympic Park, Stratford, London.
The event is open to eligible residents who have not had their first COVID-19 vaccination. Residents can book an appointment here.
Click here to book your vaccination appointment.
With temperatures rising, it’s important to remember that hot weather can pose a health risk. Many of those most at risk from the heat are also at greater risk of severe illness due to coronavirus and may need to spend more time at home than they would usually.
Therefore, it’s especially important that you know how to keep yourself and others safe from high temperatures. There are some simple precautions you can take to ensure you enjoy a safe and healthy summer.
Many of us will need to spend more time at home this summer to reduce the spread of coronavirus. To help keep yourself cool, shade or cover windows during the day and open them at night once temperatures have dropped. Turn off the heating, lights and electrical equipment when not in use. Only use electric fans if no one in the house is unwell with coronavirus symptoms.
Hot weather can increase the symptoms of exhaustion and dehydration, especially for the elderly, babies and children, and people with health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure - so it’s very important to stay hydrated and avoid excess alcohol.
Keeping hydrated is especially important for people who are unwell with coronavirus symptoms or recovering from illness.
To protect your skin from sun damage it is vital to regularly apply sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30. You should also spend time in the shade when the sun is at its strongest – usually between 11am and 3pm in the UK. Extra care should be taken to protect babies and children.
For more advice on sunscreen and sun safety click here
Make sure to check up on family, friends and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves, especially if they are self-isolating. Remember to follow the latest coronavirus government guidance whilst looking after others.
If you or someone you know becomes unwell, e.g. with heat exhaustion or heatstroke, visit NHS 111 online or call 111 if you cannot get online.
For more summer health tips visit the NHS website.
Babies and young children can become ill during very hot weather. Their health can be seriously affected by dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and sunburn. For more information click here
Click here to watch an animated video from The Lullaby Trust, which gives you advice on how to care for your baby in warm weather.
Here are some tips to help you keep your child happy and healthy in the heat.
Keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun.
From 0 to 6 months
From around 6 months
From 12 months
This Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (7-13 June), the GP Care Group is lending its voice to calls for mental health support and early intervention for infants.
The Parent Infant Foundation, Association of Infant Mental Health, and International Training School for Infancy and Early Years (ITSIEY) all emphasised the importance of including infants in children and young people's mental health services.
The GP Care Group’s Health Visiting team is backing these calls. In recognition of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, Lola Oloko, Kate Oxlade, and Kemi Adediji (Perinatal Infant Mental Health Champions) within the Health Visiting team have written on this topic and highlight the many benefits of mental health support for infants.
Good mental health has a very strong impact on the outcome of an infant’s development, their health and wellbeing, right from conception, infancy, early years, and childhood, up to adult age. It can even influence the inter-generational transmission of parenting, attachment patterns as well as how they contribute positively to the community.
Zeena and Zeena 2009 cites in ITSIEY (2011) define it as: “The young child’s capacity to experience, regulate and express emotions, to form close and secure relationships and explore the environment and to learn. All these capacities will be best accomplished within the context of a caregiving environment which includes family community, and cultural expectations for young children. Developing these capacities is synonymous with healthy social and emotional development.”
Not all infants can achieve this. Some infants would need support and early intervention from infant mental health services to promote attachments, healthy relationships with the caregiver from early infancy to reduce risks or delays to the social and emotional development in their infancy and later years.
In fact, according to the International Training School for Infancy and Early years, the health of the infant starts from the mother's wellbeing before she even gets pregnant. A healthy environment from the prenatal period supports the full genetics part of the brain to be expressed, with lots of nutrients, free from toxins and healthy habits from the future mother. However, where there is an adverse prenatal period, this can affect the brain by altering the genetic makeup of the brain. (Harvard Centre for Childhood Studies).
Including infants within children and young people mental health services is crucial for early intervention in order to break intergenerational disadvantage; promote good parenting with positive outcomes and development for the child. Where there is adversity, trauma, an unhealthy environment, and other vulnerabilities such as domestic violence, paternal and maternal mental health, physical ill-health, poverty, inequalities, and others, we know these could have effects on the social and emotional development of the baby. It is known that in a developing child, 80% to 90% of the brain develops during the first 1001 critical days.
Getting it right and ensuring infants have a better start in life can only be achieved when they are included in mental health services. This will ensure that parents and infants can get the services they need as early as possible to address and support the interventions required as early as possible.
As Health Visitors, we are responsible for promoting the wellbeing and development of children up to the age of five through the Healthy Child Programme (HCP). This is an evidence-based programme designed to give every child the best start in life.
‘The universal reach of the Healthy Child Programme provides an invaluable opportunity from early in a child’s life to identify families that need additional support and children who are at risk of poor outcomes. Health Visitors have a crucial leadership, coordination, and delivery role within the Healthy Child Programme. We work with key partners to deliver a comprehensive service’.
In Tower Hamlets, we work to achieve this through our mandated contacts: antenatal contacts with women between 28-32 weeks of pregnancy, new birth contact when baby is between 10 and 14 days old, 6-8 week postnatal reviews (checking on the emotional wellbeing of both parents and baby and the wider family), 3-4 month development review focusing on how to set good habits for a lifetime around eating and exercise as well as identifying any further support and identifying appropriate early interventions, 8-12 month development review and 2-2.5 year review looking at school readiness in particular.
Families today are formed in many diverse ways. The traditional family – a heterosexual married couple with biologically related children – is just one example of how a family structure can exist. The HCP is designed to embrace every type of family and there should be no discrimination against families who do not meet the typical ‘nuclear’ family description.
It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on everyone’s lives. The ‘Babies in Lockdown’ report (highlights several challenges identified by families during this time:
Consideration should be given to the emotional wellbeing of the father or partner, and services should be inclusive, involve fathers and partners in discussions about child development, encourage fathers/partners to be involved in their children’s lives to see how rewarding this experience can be. Services should provide reassurance to the family but also ensure that barriers are removed to enable parents to access appropriate support for their infants in a timely manner.
Just like mothers, fathers often experience wide-ranging and complex emotional changes during the perinatal period. When considering mental health in the perinatal period, the mental wellbeing of fathers should be considered equally.
We should also be able to educate fathers and partners about perinatal mental illness so that they can access help if they notice any signs and symptoms in themselves or their partners. We need to ensure that fathers and partners have adequate support systems in place if the mother has a perinatal mental illness. It’s important to note that maternal depression increases the risk of depression in fathers.
In addition, outcomes for children can be affected where one or both parents have a history of mental illness. By identifying all of this, and working towards healthy infant mental health, children really can have the best start in life.
Visit the Health Visiting page on the GP Care Group website.
To mark World Sickle Cell Awareness Day coming up on Saturday 19 June, the Black and Minority Ethnic and Ability Networks is inviting healthcare professionals to join their event welcoming The Sickle Cell Society on Thursday 10 June at 1pm.
Many would have seen the headlines of Richard Okorogheye, a 19-year-old with sickle cell disease that went missing from his home and was sadly found dead two weeks later, and the case of Evan Smith, who died due to the denial of oxygen in hospital whilst going through a sickle cell crisis and rang 999 from his hospital bed for help. Sickle Cell Disease is a serious and lifelong health condition that affects red blood cells, the most serious type is called sickle cell anaemia.
Those with sickle cell disease would have had to shield this past year due to COVID-19. The stories of Richard Okorogheye and Evan Smith have highlighted the need for education in our workplaces and hospitals on how to support those with sickle cell disease.
The webinar on 10 June will give colleagues an overview of sickle cell as a disease, an insight into the lived experience of having this hidden disability, and why it’s important for healthcare professionals to support and raise awareness of this hidden disability. There will also be a Q&A session and an opportunity to sign up for the blood donation programme if you are of African/African-Caribbean descent.
If you’re interested in attending the webinar, please register using the link below.
In recognition of Childhood Accident Prevention week (7-13 June) Health Visitor Jenny Gilmour is sharing vital safety advice and information to parents with the aim of helping to prevent needless accidents happening to their children.
#Hellomyname is Jenny and as a Health Visitor, the last thing I want a child or young person to experience is an accident that could have been prevented. I want to ensure, through sharing age-appropriate health information and offering safety advice to parents and carers at the right developmental stages, that children and young people remain well and healthy, thrive, and be where they are happiest: in their homes, in schools, and in playgrounds, having fun with their friends and families.
Accidents are of course part of growing up, children are curious, and we want them to explore their world safe from serious harm, but some accidents are so serious that they can change lives and can even be fatal.
‘Share because you care’ is this year’s theme and is centred around supporting distressed families who are coping with the repercussions of accidents that have happened.
That’s why this Childhood Accident Prevention week, I’m sharing brief facts across seven areas from my experience in working as a Health Visitor and in providing public health nursing care, for parents /families to pause and consider.
(The following advice is from the Childhood Accident Prevention Trust: www.capt.org.uk)
It’s such a scary thought that something could stop your child breathing, putting their life at risk. But the steps to prevent that awful scenario from happening are simple.
Advice – download factsheet: Read about Window Blind cord safety, safe sleeping and use of slings: Baby Sling Safety | The T.I.C.K.S Rule for Safe Babywearing, risks of nappy sacks ( safe storage) and choking advice: Baby choking - The Chokeables | St John Ambulance (sja.org.uk)
You and your family are eight times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm. That’s because if a fire breaks out at night, you won’t smell the smoke and wake up. Instead, the poisonous fumes will send you deeper into sleep. So, it makes sense to have a smoke alarm upstairs and downstairs, to protect you and your family from smoke that can kill in minutes, before you even wake up.
Advice – download factsheet: to Prevent fires, fit and check your smoke alarms, plan your escape and teach children what to do if they see a fire.
Scrapes and bruises are a part of growing up. But even a fall from a highchair can cause a bad head injury. That’s because babies’ heads are twice as big (proportionally) as ours, which makes them top-heavy. And when they land, their head takes much of the impact. While you can’t prevent all falls, there are some serious ones that you can easily stop once you know how and why.
Advice – download factsheet: Safeguard against falls from cots, beds, changing tables, stairs, highchairs, windows, and for safer use of trampolines.
Bright bottles of cleaning liquid, squidgy washing tablets, shiny packets of painkillers… Small children are curious and want to learn more by putting things in their mouths. Unfortunately, things that make our lives easier can be harmful to small children, as their bodies process poisons differently. Thank goodness it’s easy to keep children safe.
Advice – download factsheet: Follow the advice and guidance on safe storage of laundry products, cleaning products, and everyday painkillers.
It can be hard knowing how best to teach your child to stay safe. There is simple advice that helps you to break it down and keep it simple.
Advice – download factsheet: Touches on Pedestrians as younger/older children, in the car, cycling, driving.
A small child’s skin burns very easily as it’s so thin. Follow the advice on how to prevent serious burns.
Advice – download factsheet: Safe management of hot drinks, hair straighteners, cooking, bathwater, fire and heaters, button batteries, and magnetic toys in the home environment.
Drowning happens silently. A drowning child can’t speak or control their arms. They slip quietly under the water. It’s only in the movies they splash about and cry for help. It’s a scary thought. But once you understand how and where drowning happens, there are things you can do to prevent it.
Advice – download factsheet: Things to consider when using a bath, out and about, in the garden, at the beach.
All seven topic Fact Sheets are from the Parents Pack: Safe from Accidents which is free to download from CAPT: Download.ashx (capt.org.uk). This is published in English and includes more information and advice on all seven topics, a quiz, spot the difference, and safety word search activities.
Translated information is planned and five fact sheets will be available soon in Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Polish, and Arabic on the website.
The Childhood Accident Prevention Trust www.capt.org.uk has lots of helpful resources for parents, do take a look and follow them on Twitter @CAPTcharity #ChildSafetyWeek
Please share because you care and together let’s work to keep our children and young people safe in Tower Hamlets, so they have the best childhoods possible!
Jenny Gilmour is a Health Visitor, working in a 0-19 Service Development Lead Role for the GP Care Group.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, several GP Care Group-run services have been working tirelessly to provide uninterrupted care to local residents. One such service is the GP Out of Hours (OOH) team.
We interviewed Jennie Read, GP and Clinical Lead Urgent Care, to shine a spotlight on the service and to give you a peek into the sort of care you can expect from the team.
What is the OOH GP service and who is it for?
The Out of Hours Service (OOHs) was originally organised by a small number of local Tower Hamlets general practitioners in the early 1990s. The service was formed around the idea of providing clinical care to patients who were seeking urgent assistance when their general practice was closed.
By mid-2000, all general practitioners chose to rely upon the OOHs service to provide excellent urgent clinical care at night and at the weekend when they were unavailable. From 2017, the GP Care Group had successfully developed the service retaining the core care principles. By 2020, the OOHs provided care to the whole Tower Hamlets population of 320,000 residents.
The service is for patients who are GP-registered or non-GP-registered, who are residents, temporarily resident,s or homeless in Tower Hamlets and who are seeking urgent support and clinical advice outside of the usual GP opening times.
Walk-in patients are not accommodated in the Out of Hours service.
How do I access the OOH service?
Seeking support from the OOHs for an urgent [but not an emergency] health concern is straightforward. Simply call the NHS 111 telephone service. The health concern is evaluated and if appropriate, the call is electronically transferred to the Out of Hours service.
Where is the OOH service based?
Part of the newly named Integrated Urgent Primary Care services, the OOHs is co-located within the Urgent Treatment Centre on the ground floor of the South Tower in the Royal London Hospital. It is easily accessible via Stepney Way. The facilities available are adapted for those with physical disabilities and/or require wheelchair access.
What sort of care/treatment does the service provide?
The service is for any urgent medical conditions that cannot wait until your surgery reopens.
There are facilities for the hard of hearing and language line is available for those who would benefit from support.
What health professional will I be able to see? (nurses/GPs)?
The clinical staff are exclusively sessional GPs. Through their training or/and their permanent position, many have a familiarity with the disease profile and health needs of the Tower Hamlets community and have an awareness of the supports offered by the community and social services.
The administrative staff and the care navigators also have a thorough knowledge and understanding of Tower Hamlets. Their social prescribing skills enable a knowledgeable response to questions and queries on accessing health facilities and programmes.
The OOHs has developed excellent links with partner services and healthcare providers. For example, the team can seek the assistance of the specialities in the Royal London Hospital and the advice of the St Joseph’s Palliative care team. There is also direct contact with the community nursing teams.
The team has access to medications most frequently used for urgent conditions such as chest infections and for end-of-life symptom control. Electronic prescribing is also possible enabling a telephone consultation to be accompanied by a prescription to a chemist close to the patient’s location. There are procedures for managing adult and child safeguarding concerns.
Patient’s registered GP are advised of the nature of the OOHs visit for follow-up the next day.
What are the opening times?
The service is open seven days a week from 6.30pm to 8 am for weekdays and for 24 hours a day during the weekends and bank holidays.
Can I receive a home visit from a GP as part of the service?
That depends on the need. A patient will either receive a telephone consultation, a face-to-face consultation at the OOHs centre, or a home visit.
Can I bring a child, a friend, or a family member to my appointment?
Recommendations with regard to infection control and the COVID pandemic have influenced who can accompany the patient in a face-to-face consultation and in the reception area.
Visit our Out of Hours service here.
The GP Care Group is holding a community clinic this Saturday 29 May between 11am -3pm. Eligible group residents can book a vaccination appointment by calling Tower Hamlets Council's COVID helpline on 0207 364 3030.
On offer will be the AztraZeneca (Oxford) vaccination. Vaccinations will be held at The Professional Development Centre (PDC), 229 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6AB.
If you are in an eligible group – meaning you are 30 or over, have a health condition that puts you at greater risk, a carer, or are a health or social care worker – and you haven’t booked your first dose yet, just bring along evidence of your age, staff ID or a letter/text message confirming that you have been invited for vaccination.
The government has announced a multigenerational vaccination scheme, which means that if you're eligible to have the COVID-19 vaccine, you can bring your whole family along to get vaccinated for their first dose of the vaccine.
Not sure whether vaccination is right for you? Come along and have a 1:1 chat with one of our clinicians who will be happy to answer all of your questions.
Waiting times will depend on demand, but we will do our best to see you quickly.
The Professional Development Centre operates social distancing rules.
For directions to the centre, please visit Tower Hamlets Council's website.
This year, British Nutrition Foundation's (BNF) Healthy Eating week takes place 14-18 June. It’s a week to celebrate healthy living and an opportunity to reflect on your families’ lifestyles.
Good nutrition is absolutely central for improving our wellbeing and mental health but accessing affordable and nutritious food can be a real challenge for some families. To support Tower Hamlets residents, Tower Hamlets GP Care Group’s Child Healthy Weight Team is encouraging families and women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant and have a low-income to join the Healthy Start Scheme. The scheme gives families simple and affordable recipes, age-appropriate food portion control, and more advice on how to access healthy food and increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables you eat.
Child Healthy Weight Team Leader, Amelie Gonguet said: “The Healthy Start Scheme is means-tested and acts as a basic nutritional safety net for families. At a time when child poverty is rising, over £135,000 of funding per annum is lost in Tower Hamlets to unclaimed Healthy Start entitlement. We encourage all eligible families to sign up for this fantastic scheme.”
Below you will find more information about the Healthy Start Scheme to see if it’s right for you.
Women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant and families with children under four years who are in receipt of certain income support and benefits. The scheme is universal for all pregnant women under 18 years old.
To apply, visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk or phone their helpline on 0345 607 6823. You can also visit your children’s centre, GP surgery, or speak to your Midwife or Health Visitor. The application no longer requires a Healthcare professional signature!
Important: The scheme is switching from voucher delivery to a pre-paid card system. All users will need to reapply to the digital scheme in October 2021, using the digital application.
Parents can also get free vitamins, specifically designed for pregnant and breastfeeding women and growing children.
The vouchers can be used at most supermarkets, and at some small shops, market stalls, farmers’ markets, and community food projects. This could represent:
The Charity First Steps Nutrition has created a recipe book with simple ideas for cost-effective recipes for the whole family, using ingredients that can be purchased using the Healthy Start voucher. Download it here.
The recipes also show appropriate portion sizes for infants, children aged 1-4 years, children aged 5-11 years, and older children and adults.
Using age-appropriate bowls and plates (please see the image below) can help parents to have a realistic guide of how much their children should be eating. This also helps to avoid food waste and battles at mealtimes.
The British Nutrition Foundation has also made a poster called ‘perfect portions for little tums’ to support families offering age-appropriate portion sizes for children aged 1-4.
It is important to remember those are just estimates and children will have different sized appetites depending on how active they are, and how much they are growing. What is most important, is for parents to be sensitive to children’s hunger and satiety cues.
Parents, did you know that Breathe Easy Week is taking place next month (22-28 June)? This is an initiative started by the British Lung Foundation, to raise awareness and focus on lung health to ensure everyone can breathe clean air.
To support your child with their asthma and wheeze GP Care Group, Community Children Specialist Asthma Nurse, Tori Hadaway has shared some useful tips on steps you can take towards protecting your child from having an asthma attack.
School Nurses will not be doing Asthma reviews in school this will be done yearly by the GP at your annual review. Every child will have a Standard Asthma plan that the school will provide and you will need to sign.
Make sure you give a copy of your child’s Individual Asthma Plan from your review to the school. School nurses will still be doing Allergy Plans which need to be updated yearly.
If your child has hayfever this can trigger asthma. It’s important that your child takes their hayfever medication and nasal spray daily in the summer months when the pollen is high.
Contact your GP or Nurse if the hay fever is not controlled.
Think: Are they coughing or wheezing? Breathing difficulty? Tight chest?
Intervene: Reassure the child, sit them upright and slightly forward.
Medicine: Give 10 puffs of the blue inhaler using a spacer.
Emergency: If there is no improvement or if you are worried call 999. If you’re waiting for an ambulance, give another 10 puffs of salbutamol.
Is your child not getting better and you have an adrenaline pen? If in doubt about your child’s improvement, it’s important that you use the adrenaline pen. There may be no signs as the signs of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) may not always be obvious.
See your GP or hospital asthma team as your child may need extra medication or even hospitalisation. Visit Jext for more information about anaphylaxis and watch this video for simple steps on how to use an EpiPen here.
You should have an asthma review for your child with your GP or practice nurse at least once a year for a new spacer and individual asthma/allergy plan that must be taken to school.
Book a review earlier if:
Booking an asthma review during the summer holidays may prevent a term-time asthma attack.
Mental Health Services
Young Minds – supporting your child during the pandemic
Tower Hamlets Council – Health and medical advice
Kooth – Trained councilors with peer support for 11years old and over
Children with Asthma and allergies should be going to school as per RCPCH guidelines. if your child is not going to school discuss with your GP and follow Government guidelines
The Government’s coronavirus page
Asthma UK – Asthma and coronavirus
Asthma UK – Going back to school
Asthma and Wheeze information
Monkey Wellbeing – Children with wheeze
Asthma Innovation Research Books on asthma and children’s allergies
Allergy UK – guidance for schools
Allergy UK – Starting a new school
Knowing the right place for medical help over this Spring bank holiday weekend can help you get the treatment you need faster.
Please remember to order your medication ahead of time to ensure that you have enough to last you over the bank holiday weekend. Some local pharmacies near you will also be open on the Monday bank holiday. You can find the opening hours of your local pharmacies on the NHS website.
If you live in Tower Hamlets and you need help with minor injuries and illnesses, you can get an appointment with a GP through our GP Extended Hours Hubs and Urgent Treatment Centre, which will be open as normal on bank holiday Monday (31 May). Out of hours appointments are available weekday evenings between 6.30pm and 10pm, and between 8am and 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays, including during the bank holiday weekend. These appointments can be booked by calling your own GP practice as usual during working hours or by calling 111 out of hours.
NHS 111 can make direct appointments online, by phone, or face-to-face with a variety of health services, including our Urgent Treatment Centre, specialised mental health crisis services, dental services, and pharmacists for urgent repeat prescriptions and advice. If needed, an ambulance can also be despatched.
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To get help from NHS 111, you can:
COVID-19 vaccinations will be taking place as normal on the bank holiday so if you have an appointment please attend. If you need further support with your booking you can use Tower Hamlets Council's dedicated COVID helpline.
The Association for Young People’s Health has published its reports on children, young people and families’ experiences of chronic asthma management and care.
The reports published include a scoping review of existing evidence and findings from engagement work focused on better understanding the experiences of children and young people with chronic asthma from communities that have been marginalised and those living in more deprived areas.
Download the reports
City University of London has formally recognised GP Care Group Health Visitor, Violet Smith for achieving Practice Teacher of the Year for Public Health. You can watch City's acknowledgment of Violet's award here.
Congratulations and well done to our very own Health Visitor, Violet Smith on winning the City’s School of Health Sciences’ annual Practice Teacher of the Year for Public Health. Violet's hard work and commitment has been exemplary and is an inspiration to our Health Visiting Service.
The award celebrates and rewards the outstanding achievement of practice providers and the contribution of practice colleagues who provide support to City University students learning in practice. Violet has worked to ensure the education of the next generation of healthcare professionals and is well-deserving of this award.
After an astounding 42 years of working in Tower Hamlets, colleagues across our Health Visiting service said a heartfelt goodbye to Violet Smith, who has now retired. To show their appreciation the team held a Virtual Retirement Party to highlight Violet’s achievements over the years, and celebrate her winning a Practice Excellence Award 2020, in the category Practice Teacher of the Year for Public Health.
From everyone at the Care Group, we wish Violet the best of luck for the future!
Good thinking has created a Five Ways to Wellbeing and Islam guide with mental health support information for the Muslim community during COVID-19. The guide is endorsed by the Muslim Council of Britain, the British Islamic Medical Association, and the British Board of Scholars and Imams.
The guide is available in English, Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu, Somali, Hindi, and Arabic. For more information, please visit the Good Thinking website.
Please share the guide with communities that will benefit from the guide.
Do you have a SCPHN School Nursing qualification? If you do, we would love to invite you to apply for one of our School Nurse vacancies.
Why work for Tower Hamlets GP Care Group?
Tower Hamlets is a stimulating place to work; an area steeped in history and culture. The borough covers a diverse range of localities, including most of the traditional East End, encompassing the historic Tower of London, St Katherine’s docks, and Canary Wharf and its unmistakable skyline, one of the main financial centres in the UK. Tower Hamlets is also the location of London’s most famous markets – two of these, Petticoat Lane, which can trace its origins back to the mid-19th Century and Spitalfields market, are both thriving areas.
The borough’s diversity extends to a rich food culture with the famous curry and bagel houses dotted alongside trendy bars and a celebrated street food scene in Brick Lane.
Tower Hamlets is proud of its multicultural heritage and thriving community spirit where people come together to support each other. This is the engaging community that the Tower Hamlets GP Care Group CIC School Health and Wellbeing Service are based.
What School Nursing vacancies are there?
The School Health and Wellbeing team, an integrated 0-19 service, which includes Health Visiting and Family Nurse Partnership (FNP), is supported by the Safeguarding Team. We work in partnership with schools including the Pupil Referral Units, to support children, young people, and their families to ensure that pupils’ health needs are supported within their school and their community to achieve the best health and wellbeing outcomes. This includes those children who are electively home educated.
We have vacancies for Band 6 Specialist Community Public Health Nurses / School Nurses on full-time or part-time contracts.
Please click on the link below to learn more about the roles and to apply:
Bank Community Staff Nurse (jobs.nhs.uk)
School Nurse - Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (jobs.nhs.uk)
Bank School Nurse - Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (jobs.nhs.uk)
Learn more about the role by reading our feature on a Day In The Life of… a School Nurse here
COVID-19 infections in England are at their lowest levels since August 2020, and we are making tremendous progress with vaccinations in Tower Hamlets.
We have now passed the 100,000 mark of Tower Hamlets residents who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a landmark achievement for our health care workers, the GP Care Group, and Tower Hamlets Council.
We want to say a huge thank you to our healthcare workers, our volunteers, everyone working behind the scenes, and of course, all our residents who have taken the vaccine so far. Your incredible efforts towards helping to keep Tower Hamlets safe are appreciated.
Please continue to encourage the take-up of the COVID vaccines to eligible cohorts to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
Research shows that vaccination reduces the risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19 and lowers transmission. Please take up the offer of vaccination when it's your turn.
From today, 17 May lockdown rules in England are easing as part of step 3 of the Government’s road map. You will now be able to:
Leisure and entertainment
Check with your local place of worship for the latest advice.
The government is continuing to review cases of Covid-19, vaccination rollout, and any new variants of the virus. Each stage of the roadmap will consider these to ensure the safe lifting of restrictions.
Stage four of the roadmap is due to begin on 21 June, when it’s hoped that all legal limits on social contact will be removed, and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen.
This advice could change, so make sure you keep up to date with the latest information. You can view the full roadmap on the government website.
At May's Executive Board, we began our vital work with brap on anti-racist leadership and heard from the inspiring Women's Inclusive Team (WIT). This month I also presented along with Warwick to the Health Scrutiny Committee about partnership progress and priorities and attended the Promoting Independence monthly meeting. It was great to see this workstream in action, providing strategic input and direction to issues ranging from older people's day centre provision to the living with cancer programme.
At the Board, we had an impressive presentation from Safia and Emma about WIT's work with our Somali and other Black and ethnic minority communities, spanning pre-school, children and young people, and community wellbeing. During the pandemic, they stepped this up to include a community kitchen, food bank, and constructive engagement with Barts and the public health team to ensure Somali people's needs were not overlooked in the response.
They've also hosted an outreach clinic for COVID vaccines, providing a trusted environment, translation, and reassurance to boost uptake. The Board reflected on the varied reasons for "hesitancy" among different communities and asked what specific lessons WIT had from their Somali focussed work. These were: countering misinformation which spreads quickly via word of mouth and WhatsApp with language-specific webinars and voice notes led by community leaders; the importance of translations but also simple, accessible information; the need for long-term outreach given the entrenched discomfort in accessing statutory services. Board members also reflected on the highly valued, sometimes (rightly!) challenging ongoing dialogue with WIT for example via Barts ' multi-faith forum and work with the council and schools in relation to SEND.
Brap facilitated the rest of the meeting, which was a deeply reflective and honest discussion among partners about our individual and collective roles in tackling structural racism. This was a confidential and safe space to encourage candour, but in the spirit of transparency, I want to share the main themes. We talked openly about our respective personal and professional journeys towards becoming anti-racist leaders, and many of us shared our past failings and complicity especially those of us who are white leaders. We considered that in the UK we lack fluency in talking about racism, both in terms of language and emotion. We also discussed the stark asymmetry in play the "fear" for white people of getting it wrong or saying something taboo versus for people of colour the very real risk of harm and trauma. Equally, both the impact of and response to structural racism still disproportionately falls on people ofcolour.
A key practical lesson for me was that as leaders we need to model our willingness to stepinto discomfort, hold the mic to support our peers and call out racism at the moment, then pass the mic to give space to others' voices.
We reconfirmed our commitment to the inequalities commission vision of Tower Hamlets being a truly anti-racist borough and that through our work with brap we need to understand how to really do things differently, teasing out our collective partnership actions from what must happen in our own organisations. Our goal is demonstrable, specific actions that we can track progress against, alongside deepening understanding and driving more intangible but equally crucial cultural change among our communities and our staff.
From my perspective, it was a really refreshing conversation there was no defensiveness or white fragility on display, people were humble, keen to be challenged, and focussed on concrete action. An important start to our anti-racist leadership journey but much much more to do.
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, is launching a review called ‘The Childhood Commission’, which looks at the lives of children and young people to identify the barriers preventing children from reaching their full potential and propose policy solutions to address them. At its heart is ‘The Big Ask’ – the largest ever consultation held with children.
To help every child and young person in Tower Hamlets to have their voice heard, The Children's Commission is asking parents and carers to share a short survey with young people to help find out what they think is important for their future and what might be holding them back. It is an exciting opportunity to hear from our children and young people.
Please share the below survey with your friends, family, and networks to reach as many children and young people in Tower Hamlets as possible. Please try especially hard to reach those who you believe may not normally be represented.
The survey will close on Wednesday 19 May.
Share the survey
To learn more about how children and young people can have their voices heard in Tower HamletsWatch this five-minute video.
Today marks the start of Type 2 diabetes prevention week (Monday 10 May to Sunday 16 May), and Diabetes UK has joined Public Health England and NHS England to raise awareness of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and how to reduce it.
There are 12.3 million people in the UK at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and it's important that you and your family can access advice on diabetes to help you take steps to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Below are some key facts and tips to help you reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes:
Find out more about Type 2 diabetes on the Diabetes UK website.
A series of unseen photographs capturing the size and scale of the largest vaccination programme across the UK has been published by the NHS. The photographs were taken by photojournalists who have captured the monumental collective effort of the NHS during these unprecedented times.
You can watch and share the video here
Something is a variant of concern if it is not known whether it will spread more easily, cause more severe disease, or may not be supported by vaccinations - testing helps us learn more.
Working in partnership with Tower Hamlets Council, NHS Test and Trace has been providing additional ‘surge’ testing, within E1 postcodes (E1 4 and E1 3 and some of E1 0, E1 1, E1 2, E1 5, E14 7, E2 0, E2 6, E3 4) from Sunday 3 May. These are the areas where the variants were identified. These areas include parts of Bethnal Green, Stepney Green, St Peters and St Dunstan’s wards.
If you are over 11 years of age and you live, work or are educated in an E1 postcode, you’re strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 PCR test when invited, even if you’re not showing symptoms.
You can check your postcode here and check if you are being asked to get a test.
Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern (VOC). In these instances, contact tracers will look back over an extended period to determine the route of transmission.
An additional test unit is available at Gouldman House, E1 4HQ from Sunday 2 May, 8:30am to 3pm. The additional test unit will be in place each day.
PCR home testing tests will be available for collection and return at the sites below from 12pm to 6pm:
People can also book a test online, through the NHS COVID-19 app or by calling 119. If you have symptoms you must book a test via the national portal.
The nearest test sites to the areas are:
Appointments at these test sites can be booked online.
One of the best things about Tower Hamlets is its rich and diverse population. However, this diversity can throw up some serious challenges when faced with the difficulties of protecting all citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, the GP Care Group has been working to protect the local population and to keep everyone safe. One of our most successful projects has seen a group of four colleagues vaccinate close to 5,000 Tower Hamlets residents who either live in Care Homes, are known to have either challenging behaviours or learning disabilities. The team also works with the homeless, individuals who live in hostels, and other vulnerable environments.
The COVID-19 Home Visiting team consists of four colleagues, whose regular roles usually see them supporting the GP Care Group-run Urgent Treatment Centre, in Royal London Hospital. Ensuring they do their bit to vaccinate as many people as possible is the present priority, however, the Home Visiting team has been in operation since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
Sharing insights and details about their important work is team lead, Adriana Horn, who’s full of praise and support for her small team. “Our team is fantastic! They are very flexible to the needs of our residents and their circumstances.”
Alongside Adriana, the team is made up of an advanced nurse practitioner and two support officers. Initially, the team was joined by a GP to visit Care Homes, but this is no longer needed as they have streamlined their processes and are now experienced in their tasks.
Initially, the remit of the team focused on helping to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. They did this by carrying out COVID-19 tests for all the patients and staff within the borough’s 68 Care Homes and non-residential care facilities, as well as asylum seekers, the homeless, and people in the Salvation Army; pretty much all those residents who require social housing. The list also includes people who are home-bound and vulnerable people. But since the very first COVID-19 vaccines became available on 16 December 2020, they have also been administering COVID-19 vaccination jabs to these vulnerable groups too, so the team is now a familiar sight in these settings. Adriana: “We often go into these settings several times. So, it’s not just once and that’s it. Some of these settings we have been in up to four times.”
“For example, we ventured out and did our first vaccines for residents back in December and we have been back several times, as they need us. We also must comply with the timeframe the government has set for administering the first and the second vaccines.”
This familiarity with the people they visit is very important as the team must gain their trust and build a rapport with them. “In the beginning, people were very skeptical about taking the vaccine, but when they see their fellow staff and their fellow care home residents take up the offer, then they are more ready to come forward and have it too. They even ask us if we have had the jab, which we all have.”
The team adopts a flexible approach to ensuring they are able to meet their clients at the point that they find them, so they adapt to the sometimes unpredictable lifestyles of the people they see.
Due to the sensitive and complex natures of their clients, having the right temperament for the role is key. “It’s important that members of the team have a certain personality and adopt a flexible approach with the people we see as they will not respond to rigid rules. You also need a good sense of humour.”
“We have learned that we need to go to them when it's suitable for them. There is no judgment as to their lifestyles and what they may have been doing. We are happy to go to them first thing in the morning when they may have finished working to vaccinate them or it could be in the afternoon and in the evening when they are more likely to engage with us quite frankly.” The repercussion of not working in this way could see the clients decide they no longer want the vaccine. “We need to be there when they say they will have the vaccine otherwise by tomorrow, they may have changed their mind.”
Having done this work for several months, the team has developed an efficient process for delivering the vaccination to big groups. “Sometimes we go out in pairs or we all go out together depending on how many people we will be seeing. For example, tomorrow all four of us are going out together because we’re expecting a group of 160 people to come through to be vaccinated in only four hours. So, we do need to be organised.”
The team finds themselves in all types of locations and settings. They have supported at recent vaccination popup clinics at Granby Hall, [which is a community centre frequented by members of the Somali community] and popup clinics at the East London Mosque.
They also work closely with the Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group who have links with and contract extra care facilities like Look Ahead, the Salvation Army as well as organisations that support hard to reach people. “Generally, the CCG gives these organisations our contact details and they approach us.”
The trust and empathy that the team has built within the community has brought an unexpected bonus with many clients within the care homes and the rough sleepers keen to be educated about how to keep safe and the importance of being vaccinated.
“After they’ve had the vaccine, quite a few of our clients have said they are so glad that they had it and that they will come back for their second dose. Often, they want to mark the occasion by having a picture of them getting the vaccine.”
David Robertson, Chief Operating Officer at the GP Care Group, noted the remarkable contribution that the COVID-19 Home Monitoring Service has made toward helping the most vulnerable in Tower Hamlets receive vaccination and care.
He said: “This pandemic has brought out true heroes and stars within the health and care workforce and every day in the media we hear about the selflessness of healthcare staff. The wonderful work of the Tower Hamlets COVID-19 Home Visiting team is right up there with the best of them.”
The success of the borough’s vaccination programme is due to the efforts of many dedicated staff. One of the teams supporting the programme behind the scenes is the Tower Hamlets Advocacy and Interpreting Service.
Since December 202, the Advocacy and Interpreting team has been working alongside vaccinators and agencies in the Tower Hamlets COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, offering support to scores of people for whom English is a second language.
The team has been a familiar presence at the vaccination centres, located at settings across the borough, including The Art Pavilion, Mile End and Cable Street as well as pop up clinics at Granby Hall and the East London Mosque.
Almost on a daily basis, each of these centres required an interpreter and the team responded at often short notices due to the unpredictable timetable for vaccine deliveries.
Lawrence Muyimba, Service Lead describes how advocacy staff are responsive to the needs of local residents at the vaccination centres. “The team has to be very flexible to respond to individual’s language support, and other needs. Some of the advocates and interpreters cover long clinics, that could run up to 12 hours a day including weekends. So far, my team has provided 727 hours of cover.”
The most common languages required at the vaccination centres are Bengali /Sylheti, Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati, Somali, Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese.
While language support is a big component of their work, the team has been an excellent resource in educating those for whom English is not their first language on the benefits of the vaccine. They also participated in the general running of the clinics.
“This involved supporting arriving patients, marshalling, and guiding people to appropriate stations and seating areas, helping to maintain safety measures by cleaning chairs, pens, boards, filling out forms, translating the health questionnaire and reinforcing the medical advice.”
“I saw members of my team helping elderly people who could not see properly or write easily. We also supported the clinicians to be able to answer cultural and religious questions from the public.”
“I extend my sincere appreciation to all the colleagues who continue to show flexibility and commitment to the entire vaccination exercise, in particular, the following advocates and interpreters: Rekha Uddin, Rowshanara Choudhury, Piarun Nessa, Nazma Hussain, Syed Anisuzzaman, Shamsun Rahim, Younus Hassan, and Jenny Flore’s Soledad.
The Tower Hamlets Advocacy and Interpreting Service (THAIS) is a free and confidential service for anyone requiring healthcare, who is registered with one of our 36 partner GP practices.
Learn more about the service here.
If you've got children, now that the weather is turning decidedly warmer there are no excuses for not taking part in next month’s Walk To School Week, which takes place between 17-21 May.
We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the easing of lockdown restrictions than going for daily walks, something we’ll never again take for granted.
Walk To School Week is a week-long activity for primary-school-aged children, a great way to help everyone achieve the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day, but there can be much greater benefits for both you and your children.
Geraldine Collins, the Care Group’s School Health & Wellbeing Service Lead, shares some very important reasons why you should join the Walk To School campaign this spring.
With COVID still about, walking in the fresh air is beneficial for good physical health
There has been a lot of uncertainty around coronavirus and the orders to help keep us safe. But one thing that’s been clear is the importance of keeping healthy. Many of us have started to increase our daily steps during the lockdown. We should be aiming to hit around 10,000 steps a day and while this may seem overwhelming at first, the key to success is building up slowly.
Children and young people should aim to do at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day to include both aerobic exercise and exercises to strengthen their muscles and bones. One way to help young people do this is to join in the Walk to School Week, it is simple and free. As well as strengthening muscles and bones, it will strengthen your heart, increase your lung capacity which in turn improves your stamina, helps to reduce obesity, and helps to prevent conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.
Walking in the sunshine will increase levels of Vitamin D; this is good for bone health, as well as the immune system and after a walk, you will feel more energised.
Walking supports better concentration – good mental health
Walking is also great for your mental health because as well as helping you feel energised, it makes you feel happy too. When you take a brisk walk, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins, these chemicals can reduce stress hormones and alleviate a low mood and anxieties, improving your mood and self-esteem.
Walking can also help with concentration in the classroom as it helps to supply the brain with oxygen and glucose which helps the brain and memory to function more efficiently. It clears your head and helps you be creative. It’s a great way to relax and clear your mind, giving you the ability to think more imaginatively and efficiently.
In a time of heightened anxiety, a good night’s sleep is important and so in turn, the reduction of stress through walking can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Walking regularly is one of the easiest ways to improve our mental health and emotional state.
It’s great bonding time – gives an opportunity to talk without the distraction of devices
Walking with someone else is a great bonding activity. The daily walk with your child could help you develop better communication and bonding experiences without distractions.
Having a chat, talking about everything and nothing with your child can be a special time for both of you. In this day and age when devices and technology can be a barrier, the walk to and back from school can be a refreshing change.
Regular exercise also improves mood and feelings of wellbeing which can improve your relations with others. You can while away the minutes chatting about your plans for the day or catching up about the day so far, leaving those phones aside to enjoy the face-to-face time.
Learn more about Walk To School Week here.
The importance of talking about mental health and the wellbeing of women during and after pregnancy can never be underestimated and that’s why the GP Care Group’s Health Visiting team is supporting this year’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place between 3-9 May.
The theme for this year’s week-long campaign is “Journeys to Recovery”, a topic that will focus on how mums and families can seek support following the dramatic changes and challenges caused by the pandemic over the past year.
Organised by Perinatal Mental Health Partnership UK (PMHP UK), Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week will see the PMHP UK hosting daily themed events to encourage and promote discussions around maternal mental health.
Mums and families can access support through signposting to vital resources and safe support. There will also be discussions on how medications, various therapies, and alternative approaches such as Art / Craft therapy, and Mindfulness can be used to create differing Journeys to Recovery.
The Care Group’s Health Visiting team will be sharing daily messages of support and advice based on the Maternal Mental Health Daily Themes across our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), so if you’re not following us yet, now is the time.
Below is a list of the daily themes for the week. Visit our social media channels every day to read the messages of support and advice from our Health Visitors.
Tuesday 4 May - Reaching out for support
Wednesday 5 May - Global perinatal positivity pot
Thursday 6 May - Looking after you and yours
Friday 7 May - Your journey to recovery
Saturday 8 May - Paternal mental health
Sunday 9 May - What is maternal mental health?
Visit Perinatal Mental Health Partnership UK for more details on how you can get involved.
Knowing the right place for medical help over this May bank holiday weekend can help you get the treatment you need faster.
Please remember to order enough medication ahead of time to ensure that you have enough to last you over the bank holiday weekend. However, some community pharmacies will also be open on the bank holidays. You can check which ones and their opening hours on the NHS website.
You can get an appointment with a GP through our GP Extended Hours Hubs and Urgent Treatment Centre, which will be open on bank holiday Monday (3 May).
Out of hours appointments are available weekday evenings between 6.30pm and 10pm, and between 8am and 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays, including during the bank holiday weekend.
If you live in Tower Hamlets you can book these appointments by calling your own GP practice as usual during working hours or by calling 111 out of hours.
You can call NHS 111 to book an appointment or walk-in and wait to be seen. You do not need to be registered with a GP.
Covid-19 vaccinations will be taking place as normal on the bank holiday so if you have an appointment please attend.
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To get help from NHS 111, you can:
If you can, order enough medication to last you over the bank holiday weekend. However, some community pharmacies will also be open on the bank holiday.
Parents, did you know that National Smile Month takes place this month? The GP Care Group has produced some top tips for how to get happier, healthier smiles for you and your children.
Taking place between 17 May and 17 June 2021, National Smile Month is a public health campaign to help everyone know how best to look after our teeth.
Looking after our teeth is important for our overall health and wellbeing. Eating, talking, singing, and smiling are a lot easier when you have good, strong, healthy teeth.
In Tower Hamlets, fewer adults access dental services which result in a high proportion suffering from poor oral hygiene compared to the rest of London and England. A worrying 77 percent of Tower Hamlets adults have gum disease.
Younger children often need help to look after their teeth to avoid tooth decay, which is damage to a tooth caused by a bacteria in our mouth turning sugar into acid. Tooth decay is the top cause for non-emergency hospital admission in children aged five to 19 and can cause pain, distress, and time off school. The good news is that tooth decay is often entirely preventable by taking good care of our teeth.
We could all use a refresher and so here are our top tips for you to follow to get bright, healthy teeth.
Top tips for healthy teeth:
Handy dental knowledge that everyone should know!
Learn more about how Tower Hamlets is supporting good oral health in the borough.
Six UK deafness charities have come together to produce a new video that hopes to help save lives by encouraging COVID-19 vaccine take-up amongst ethnic minorities from the deaf community.
The deafness charities involved are; Cambridgeshire Deaf Association, deafPlus, Manchester Deaf Centre, Royal Association of Deaf People, and Sign Health.
The video features a range of people from various ethnic backgrounds within the deaf community, including some prominent people from the world of entertainment, such as actors, TV producers, and comedians, who have all given their time to get this vital message across.
Alan Murray MBE is the Honourary Treasurer and Trustee of deafPlus, one of the six charities involved, and he said: “deafPLUS is delighted that this group of Deaf-led charities has united behind the simple message that the COVID vaccine programme is vital to protecting lives and providing a way out of this health crisis.”
Please share the video with communities that will benefit from watching.
Click here to watch the video
Do you want to stay up to date and informed about the COVID-19 Vaccine?
To help Tower Hamlets residents find the latest COVID-19 information we've teamed up with Tower Hamlets Council to create a downloadable leaflet that gives you vaccination information and answers your frequently asked questions.
The leaflet will help you learn why the vaccines are important, how the vaccines work, AstraZeneca safety, advice for pregnant women, and much more.
Please share the leaflet with your friends, family, and networks.
Click here to download the leaflet
Do you live or work in Tower Hamlets?
This is your opportunity to comment on the draft joint strategy for Tower Hamlets for the next five years. The strategy developed by the Tower Hamlets Health and Wellbeing Board takes account of:
The Health and Wellbeing Board is a partnership that enables leaders, health and social care professionals, and other partners across the NHS, the council, and the voluntary sector to work together, solve problems and lead change to improve the health of residents.
To find out more about the Health and Wellbeing Board Strategy 2021-25 and share your views, please visit the Council's website here.
The Public Mental Health team has launched a new Real World Public Mental Health podcast episode, which talks about how early experiences build trust and secure the best foundations for mental health throughout life. This podcast series is part of the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health Programme
The podcast is hosted by Stu King who interviews the following professionals:
Listen to the podcast
NHS England and NHS Improvement has launched a series of animations aimed at tackling disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The animations are aimed specifically at encouraging uptake in ethnic minority groups. They cover key topics including vaccine safety, how it was tested, how it was developed so quickly, what is in it, and what the side effects are.
Click the links below to watch the animations on YouTube:
1. COVID-19 vaccine and ethnic minorities - tackling disinformation
2. COVID-19 vaccine and ethnic minorities - short introduction
3. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
4. Has the COVID-19 vaccine been tested on people like me?
5. How was the COVID-19 vaccine developed so quickly?
6. What is in the COVID-19 vaccine and how does it work?
7. What are the long-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Please share the videos widely with your friends, family, and networks to encourage vaccine uptake.
Today is Earth Day (22 April), and as a Tower Hamlets Together partner, we’re proud to support Global Action Plan's ‘Tower Hamlets Air Pollution and You’ project.
The project raises awareness of the effect air pollution can have on our health and environment. Air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness. To help tackle this in Tower Hamlets, the Global Action Plan team has been working with Tower Hamlets Together to collect practical actions for you and your family that can help.
Here a few things you can do to help reduce air pollution:
Discover the side streets - Use quieter roads and paths to keep away from heavy polluting traffic.
Leave your car behind - Encourage your whole family to walk, cycle and scoot more. By choosing active travel and using public transport rather than cars you can reduce pollution for you and for others.
Check the forecast - Visit AirText to find out what the air pollution levels will be near you tomorrow. You can also sign up for free alerts by text message to keep you up to date on the pollution forecast for Tower Hamlets.
Turn the engine off - When you do need to use a car, ask the driver to turn the engine off when the car isn't moving.
Keep the air clean inside too - Use low chemical and non-smelly products, and keep your indoor air clean by using extractor fans. Avoid smoking inside your house. If you need support to help quit, visit Quit Right Tower Hamlets.
For more information about air pollution and to download resources, click here
The GP Care Group is holding a walk-in clinic this Saturday 24 April between 8.30am -3.30pm. Simply come along to The Art Pavilion in Mile End Park.
If you are in an eligible group – meaning you are 50 or over, have a health condition that puts you at greater risk, a carer, or are a health or social care worker – and you haven’t booked your first dose yet, just bring along evidence of your age, staff ID or a letter/text message confirming that you have been invited for vaccination.
The Art Pavilion Vaccination Centre operates social distancing rules and has a drop off-only parking area.
Mile End Park has produced a map offering a visual, step-free guide from Mile End Underground Station to The Art Pavilion.
If you are on the eligible list, we look forward to seeing you on Saturday. Don't forget to ask for your #IHadMyJab badge after your vaccination.
Are you looking for something fun and creative to do as a family? Come along to Samuday Studios' socially distanced picnic event at Victoria Park on 24 April at 12pm. The event is free to attend.
The event aims to help community members by engaging with children and adults in Tower Hamlets through creative arts workshops. The workshop will link art to the benefits of improving your health and wellbeing and is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and feel inspired to create.
All art equipment will be supplied by the Samuday Studios team as well as tasty refreshments on the day.
Meeting Point: Mile End Station
Download the poster below for full details about the event.
If you're interested in attending the workshop and want to reserve a place, please contact email@example.com or call 07592090648.
As a thank you to participants, Samuday is offering a £5 voucher for those who wish to submit their artwork. Your art will be used to develop products that will be sold to help communities.
This Stress Awareness Month, Tower Hamlets Public Health has launched their campaign #ForOurFamilies, which aims to encourage young adults aged 19-34 to share how they’ve been keeping well and safe.
#ForOurFamilies goal is to bring the community together, recognise the efforts people have gone to, and continue to keep one another safe.
#ForOurFamilies offers a platform featuring local stories to inspire others, encourage staying safe as lockdown eases, and support vaccine take-up.
They have also responded to young adults’ suggestions to have a single page with key links to online resources and support in the borough. Please go to www.forourfamilies.org.uk to hear motivational stories, plus new input during April from key workers and volunteers to those staying home.
Click here to hear motivational stories
#ForOurStories | Instagram
For Our Families | Facebook
At April's THT Board we had a strong focus on engagement, hearing from Deputy Young Mayor Vivian Akinremi on young people's priorities and from Healthwatch on community insights. Building on previous discussions on systemic racism, we brought recommendations from the Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Inequalities Commission to the Board.
Anti-racist leadership will be a major priority for THT over the coming months and I'm thrilled we've secured the charity brap to support us on this journey, facilitating four sessions to guide and challenge us as individual and collective system leaders. This work will be further strengthened by the revamped Associate Lay Member for Patient and Public Engagement,whose remit now includes equality and diversity, sustainability, and social value we're thrilled that Julia Slay was successful in open recruitment to take on this role.
At the Board meeting, Vivian described her role as Deputy Young Mayor and Young Cabinet Member for Mental Health as representing young voices and avoiding older people making decisions based on the wrong assumptions. She reflected on her personal experience of schools being shut down, which "got real very quickly" when she realised adults didn't even have answers on Covid-19, which was scary and daunting. On the plus side, her school was really helpful and the teachers were patient and compassionate.
Vivian set out three priorities based on engagement with young people: period poverty, mental health, and obesity. Period poverty has skyrocketed due to youth centres being closed, so they are campaigning for schools to provide free sanitary products and increase education. Mental health needs have risen but many young people report poor perceptions ofCAMHS and have struggled to access help. On obesity, they are encouraging young people to walk 10,000 steps per day, given the positive physical, mental and environmental impacts.
Board members discussed how some places have repositioned the identity of CAMHS, the vital role of peer support, and the need to involve young people at the start of designing a whole system approach to mental health not least as both complex mental health issues and children in crisis beds have increased. We also discussed young people's attitudes to COVID vaccines which Vivian reflected was mixed with lots of natural curiosity and scepticism, but also a recognition we need them to get out of the restrictions.
As one of the racial inequalities Commissioners, Vivian felt this work was forward thinking by the council, given the lack of action or complete denial of structural racism in other areas. In response to the recommendations, Members were keen to drive action on representation in the health and care workforce, with a partnership-wide, systematic programme to engagewith schools coupled with an interrogation of ethnic diversity at senior levels in line with the THT workforce strategy. Other priority areas were stronger community listening to target future action better, digital exclusion, challenging hostile environment policies, and understanding the impact of intersectionality. The Board agreed to identify tangible collectiveactions that we will commit to publicly as THT and use a QI approach to drive forward.
Healthwatch presented their analysis of community insights on people's experience of health and care services throughout 2020. Overall, people gave positive feedback on clinical treatment, nursing, quality of care, and staff attitudes. Areas with majority negative feedback were access, information, reception services, transport, and discharge. Qualitative feedbackshowed the impact of cancellations, delays, and uncertainty: "It's not the waiting that will kill you, it's the not knowing." Loneliness was also a strong theme.
Board members were impressed by this repository of robust, rich, and granular data. We reflected that given the report spans the pandemic when services were stopped overnight, the picture is fairly positive. With waiting lists now very high, the feedback is timely in thinking about messaging to explain prioritisation on clinical need rather than length of wait and will similarly help shape communications on social care access and eligibility. We discussed making the data readily available to clinical teams and confirmed Healthwatch will provide community insights for THT Board linked to the user voice theme each month.
Finally, the Local Delivery Board report confirmed their 6-month priorities are vaccine rollout, multidisciplinary teams and care coordination, discharge pathway, and long COVID. 12-month priorities are children and young people's mental health, home care, autistic spectrum disorder, and end of life care. We had a positive update on vaccines, with good progress across the Royal London, care homes, and the community. Partnership working with faith and community groups has helped address some of the ethnic disparities, but we need to do more to build trust and uptake among our Black communities
Tower Hamlets residents who have been advised to self-isolate by Track and Trace, or a household contact of a COVID-19 positive patient, should not go to a pharmacy, but arrange for prescriptions to be delivered to them instead.
If you need to collect your prescription, you should do the following:
Home Delivery Services during the COVID-19 outbreak are commissioned throughout England from community pharmacies (and from dispensing doctors) to ensure delivery of medicines to eligible patients who should not present in the pharmacy.
To learn more about ordering prescriptions if you are self-isolating click here
Residents who have had their Covid-19 vaccine are being asked to help save more lives by sharing their story with others to encourage vaccine take-up.
Studies have shown that the Covid-19 vaccines can both reduce the risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19, along with transmission to others. Along with testing, mass vaccinations are also one of the core ways to avoid future lockdowns.
However, some people are hesitant about taking the vaccine, so Tower Hamlets Council and the NHS have launched a new #Ihadmyjab campaign to ask people to take a photo and share it on social media using #Ihadmyjab. They can also add a reason as to why they have taken it along with sharing the news with family and friends through word of mouth.
The campaign is in addition to other work the council and NHS has been doing to encourage vaccine take-up. This includes making vaccines more accessible through roadshows and mobile vaccination centres at venues including the East London Mosque; and giving the facts about the vaccine to residents so they can make informed decisions based on expert advice. This is being done through public information campaigns, the council and NHS websites, and through a series of webinars. The council also has a vaccination helpline where those called for jabs can discuss any questions they have.
So far in Tower Hamlets, over 77,000 people have received their first dose of vaccine, however, there are more eligible residents yet to take up their vaccine.
Local feedback including from the council’s Covid-19 champion network shows that word of mouth and personal stories are strong motivators for others to take up vaccination which is why the #Ihadmyjab campaign has been created.
Councillor Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing said:
“People are already helping to save lives by having the vaccine, but we can save even more by encouraging others to have it through the #ihadmyjab campaign.
“Sadly, social media has been a way that misinformation has been spread about the vaccines. This campaign will use social media as a platform to share first-hand stories about our community getting the vaccine.
“If people are not on social media then word of mouth is just as important. We’re urging everyone to share their vaccine story and help save more lives – we really can’t downplay the impact of getting vaccinated.
“This campaign will run alongside our vaccine roadshows and Covid-19 Champions who talk to people about the vaccine and answer any questions they have, as well as our community clinics being held in mosques and other community venues to make the vaccine more accessible.”
In partnership with the GP Care Group, the borough recently opened a new vaccine centre at the Arts Pavilion in Mile End, which has capacity to vaccinate up to 10,000 residents every week.
Chris Banks, Joint Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets GP Care Group representing General Practices in Tower Hamlets said:
“We urge people to join this campaign, to get themselves jabbed and to encourage their families, friends and work colleagues to do the same. The vaccines are very effective and ultimately are the best way to get our lives back to normal.
“The local primary care vaccination centres at the Arts Pavilion in Mile End Park, and Cable Street Surgery, the community pharmacies in St Paul’s Way and Chrisp Street, and the mass vaccination sites at Excel and Westfield in Newham have already given nearly 75,000 Tower Hamlets residents their first dose, and over 6,000 have had their second dose”
“They’ve all had the jab. Don’t miss out. Protect yourself and your loved ones. Have the jab.”
The council’s dedicated vaccine helpline - 020 7364 3030 - supports eligible residents in booking their appointment and providing information to address any concerns about the vaccine. The helpline is staffed with a team that speaks eight community languages, to support anyone who may face barriers in booking an appointment, whether due to digital exclusion or because English is not their first language.
Everyone has a part to play in keeping themselves, their family and friends, and the wider community safe.
The Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan begins this evening (12 April) and continues until the evening of 12 May or 13 May. It will be followed by the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
If you are not a Muslim but have friends or colleagues who are observing Ramadan, please bear in mind people are fasting from dawn until sunset every day during the month.
The British Islamic Medical Association has reviewed evidence from Islamic scholars and confirmed that having the COVID-19 vaccine does not invalidate the fast. In addition, the vaccine does not contain pork or other animals, foetal, or alcohol products – this reflects the advice of the majority of Islamic scholars that it is permissible.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine please watch the below video to hear from Muslim NHS Professionals discuss the vaccine and Ramadan.
Watch the video
Now more than ever, GPs in Tower Hamlets are urging people to stay healthy and fast safely during Ramadan. With the days being longer and warmer, this can bring an increased risk of dehydration.
Dehydration can particularly affect people with existing medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or lung disease, people who are on any medicines or are pregnant or elderly. The British Islamic Medical Association is advising people to consider the concession provided by the religion whereby those who are more at risk if they contract COVID-19 are excused from fasting at this time, and that missed fasts can be made up at a later date in the year.
If you are taking prescribed medicines, you should continue taking them during Ramadan, but check with your GP if the doses need to be adjusted or the times that you take them need to be changed.
To stay healthy during the 30 days of Ramadan, it is important to:
Please remember: Fasting is not considered compulsory for many groups – including people who are unwell or have a long-term condition; people with learning difficulties; and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or menstruating.
People with diabetes on insulin are advised by GPs to avoid fasting, particularly those with significant kidney, eye, or heart problems, and those who monitor their blood glucose levels should continue to do so whilst fasting.
If you think you or someone in your household has COVID-19 or develops symptoms of COVID-19 whilst fasting, you should stop fasting immediately and use the NHS 111 online service. You should only call 111 if you cannot access the internet or cannot cope at home. Do not go to your GP surgery, pharmacy, or hospital if you have these symptoms.
If you have a non-COVID-19 health problem, please don’t hesitate to seek medical help, via the following services:
From today (12 April) lockdown rules in England are easing as part of the Prime Minister's road map. You will now be able to:
Remember, continue to shop safe and shop local. Stay outside when meeting others – fresh air reduces the risk of passing COVID-19 on.
The government continues to review cases of COVID-19 and any new variants of the virus. Each stage of the roadmap will consider these to ensure the safe lifting of restrictions.
Please check with your local place of worship for the latest advice.
Click here to watch a video explaining each stage of the government’s road map.
The video is available in Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Sylheti, and Gujarati also available via BBC Asian Network.
For more information about Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do click here
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “Today, we are more hopeful than ever; more people are being vaccinated against COVID-19 every day (over 82,196 in Tower Hamlets) and step two of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown begins, with further restrictions being lifted across the whole of England. This staggered lifting of restrictions requires four tests on vaccines, infection rates, and new coronavirus variants to be met at each stage.
From today yet more of the restrictions we have lived under are being lifted. That is a big relief to many of us and something to savour and celebrate (especially those in need of a haircut!). With shops and some outdoor hospitality reopening, the world is beginning to return to normality. However, we should be in no doubt that the coming months will continue to challenge us, and COVID-19 will remain among us.
It is crucial that we remain cautious and all continue to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus. We can get through this together by continuing to adhere to the restrictions, moving through each step of the roadmap safely, taking up the offer of vaccination when it's our turn, and getting tested."
Public Health England, supported by the Stroke Association has relaunched the national “Act F.A.S.T.” stroke campaign. There are more than 100,000 incidences of stroke each year in the UK, causing around 34,000 deaths.
The latest data show a 12% drop in hospital attendances for stroke during the lockdown period of the pandemic, between March – April 2020
With current national restrictions in place, there’s an even greater need to run this campaign activity to remind people of the symptoms and reinforce the importance of acting F.A.S.T. and calling 999 if you notice any single one of the signs in yourself or others.
The F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym has featured in the advertising for a number of years and provides a memorable way of identifying the most common signs of a stroke, whilst emphasising the importance of acting quickly by calling 999.
Think and Act F.A.S.T.
When Stroke Strikes Act F.A.S.T. Call 999
A stroke is known as a ‘brain attack’. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention as every minute is vital. That is why calling 999 is so crucial. An ambulance can give stroke patients those extra precious minutes, through faster and more specialist treatment via their knowledge of the nearest appropriate Hyper Acute Stroke Unit.
Whether it is a friend, loved one, or even a stranger, dialing 999 quickly and acting F.A.S.T saves lives and gives stroke patients their best chance at recovery and could reduce the long-term effects.
From 29 March lockdown rules in England are easing as part of the Prime Minister's road map. You will now be able to:
The video is available in Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Sylheti, and Gujarati also available via BBC Asian Network.
For more information about Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do click here
To help people with a learning disability and/or autism, the NHS has developed an easy read document that includes information on accessing NHS dental care. The document includes information about finding a dentist, dental care/emergency care, costs, treatments, and visiting a dentist during COVID-19.
Please share this document with your friends and family so that they can access NHS dental care with confidence.
Click here to read the document
Knowing the right place for medical help over the Easter holidays can help you get the treatment you need faster.
Our GP Extended Hours Hubs and Urgent Treatment Centre will be open on both bank holidays.
Out of hours appointments are also available every normal weekday evening between 6.30pm and 10pm, and between 8am and 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays, including the Easter weekend. These appointments can be booked by calling your own GP practice as usual during working hours or by calling 111 out of hours. If you have any urgent medical needs, you can also visit NHS 111 online for advice at any time. Appointments will be held in the best way to keep you safe from COVID.
COVID-19 vaccinations will be taking place as normal over the bank holidays so if you have an appointment please attend.
If you can, order enough medication to last you over the Easter weekend. However some community pharmacies will also be open on the bank holidays, you can check which and the opening hours on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/pharmacy/find-a-pharmacy.
Dr. Jagan John, GP, and chair of NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“We understand people can sometimes need an appointment with a GP or nurse outside normal working hours.
“The NHS is here for you and has flexible appointments across evenings and weekends and bank holidays. The way we have been seeing patients has changed in the last year to keep everyone safe from COVID but rest assured you will be properly assessed and if required, seen face-to-face.
“If you have a COVID-19 vaccination booked for over the Easter weekend please do attend.”
You may have seen recent incorrect reports and media coverage suggesting that there is a link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots.
In the UK the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) continues to recommend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. MHRA advises that people should still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so. Click here to read the statement from MHRA.
The European Medical Agency has also said that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective. You can read more here.
If you’re eligible for your vaccine, please do not delay taking it. The COVID-19 vaccines provide the best protection against COVID-19 for you, your family, and your community.
You can learn more about the COVID vaccines here
Local Tower Hamlets GPs are urging Muslims not to delay having their COVID-19 vaccine – first or second dose – during the holy month of Ramadan, which is due to start on the evening of Monday 12 April 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit local communities in Tower Hamlets hard and with tragic consequences. The safest and most effective way to protect yourself, your family, and those most at risk from the virus is by having a vaccine when you are offered it by the NHS.
To reassure the Muslim community, the British Islamic Medical Association has reviewed the analysis of Islamic scholars and confirmed that having the vaccine does not invalidate the fast. In addition, the vaccine does not contain pork or other animals, foetal, or alcohol products - this reflects the advice of the majority of Islamic scholars that it is permissible.
Dr Abdul Wadud Kamali, who is a GP at The Limehouse Practice in Poplar and a practising Muslim, said: “Assalamualaikum and Ramadan Mubarak to my fellow Muslims. The holy month will be a very different experience for all of us once again this year, thanks to COVID-19, and your Imam will be able to advise you on how best to mark the month. However you celebrate, I wish you a safe and healthy Ramadan.
“As Muslims, we have a duty to preserve life, and getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent illness and loss of life from COVID-19. A lot of hard work has gone into bringing the vaccines to our local communities to protect our most vulnerable, and we have already vaccinated thousands of people in Tower Hamlets. We must now stand together and not allow this progress to halt during Ramadan. Islamic scholars have made it clear that having the vaccine does not invalidate the fast, however, if you are still unsure whether you should have a vaccine during the holy month please speak to your local Imam for guidance.
“I urge everyone to have the jab when offered, but please continue to follow government guidelines to reduce transmission and help save lives.”
If you are taking prescribed medicines, you should continue taking them during Ramadan, but check with your GP if the doses need to be adjusted or the times that you take them to need to be changed.
If you have diabetes and want to fast, please speak to your GP or diabetes nurse about the safest way to do this. Remember that there is an exemption for people with diabetes, especially if you’re on insulin or have any medical complications.
Please remember: Fasting is not considered compulsory for many groups – including people who are unwell with a physical or mental illness or have a long-term condition; people who are very frail; people with learning difficulties; and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating. In addition, those with an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 should consider alternative options to fasting.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “Once again this year, Ramadan will be different for our Muslim community as we continue to feel the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We now have the hope offered by the COVID-19 vaccines, which are our best protection against the virus and can help us return to a more normal way of life. I urge everyone, including the Muslim community to protect themselves during Ramadan, remembering advice from Islamic scholars and community leaders that the vaccine does not invalidate the fast.”
The British Islamic Medical Association also advises that if you become unwell after receiving your COVID-19 vaccine or due to another reason, you should stop fasting and seek medical advice. You can do this by visiting 111.nhs.uk or your GP practice’s website or if you don’t have access to the internet, by calling 111 or your practice directly. Please note that most side-effects from the vaccine are mild and clear up on their own after a few hours.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 while fasting, GPs advise that you stop fasting, self-isolate, and get tested. If you are worried about your symptoms or are not sure what to do, visit 111.nhs.uk/covid-19 or speak to your GP practice.
For more advice on staying healthy during Ramadan, visit www.nhs.uk/LiveWell
Tower Hamlets GP Care Group has been Highly Commended for the Primary care networks, GP or Community Provider of the Year at the 40th HSJ Awards.
Over 4000 healthcare heroes tuned in to the first virtual HSJ Awards evening on Wednesday 17th March 2021(rescheduled from November 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic) to celebrate the dedication, innovation, and teamwork within the health care community.
The HSJ Awards is revered for its role in shedding light on these important qualities and their value in “opening doors” to wider opportunities and funding within the healthcare sector today.
Following an extensive judging process, undertaken by a wide range of well-respected figures from across the UK healthcare community, the Tower Hamlets GP Care Group has been Highly Commended in recognition of their outstanding contribution to healthcare over the past 12 months – a year which has undoubtedly been one of the most demanding on record for the NHS.
The judges said: “The Tower Hamlets GP Care Group team presenting were outstanding advocates for Tower Hamlets and the residents and workforce in it, you could not wish for better advocates. The presentation was strong and demonstrated the range of achievements. It showcased the engagement with GP colleagues and local communities which was excellent.”
The organisation, which has been running for eight years is a primary care-led health system that enables 36 GP practices in Tower Hamlets to speak with one voice, working collectively on innovative ventures to deliver quality primary and community services to better meet the needs of the borough.
Of being Highly Commended, Chris Banks, Joint Chief Executive of the GP Care Group said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been recognised for our work over the past year. It means a great deal to all our staff to be appreciated in this way and we’re confident that the positive impact of this Award will help to create a long-lasting legacy.”
Tracy Cannell, Joint Chief Executive of the GP Care Group said: “This Award will provide a tremendous boost to both staff and patients at the GP Care Group, and I am sure it will bolster our efforts to develop and continually improve our services.”
HSJ Editor, Alistair McLellan, offered his congratulations to the GP Care Group for our success, “The entrants this year have been of incredible caliber, and each of those recognised at the Awards has been chosen based on their outstanding commitment to excellence in healthcare, I’d like to offer my congratulations to Tower Hamlets GP Care Group on being Highly Commended at this year’s 40th HSJ Awards”.
The winners and those highly commended were announced during the virtual ceremony attended by thousands of health and social care workers, celebrating the excellence of the healthcare sector whilst giving every outstanding individual the praise, support, and recognition they deserve after a year like no other.
For more information on the 40th HSJ Awards visit: www.awards.hsj.co.uk
Local Arts and Wellbeing charity St Margaret’s House and partners will be delivering a project designed to help people of Tower Hamlets to recover from COVID-19 through the power of social prescribing. The group, based in Bethnal Green will be extending its reach and influence to deliver a wealth of creative activities to improve wellbeing and create a network to increase awareness of social prescribing. They are celebrating after being awarded £47,343 from the Thriving Communities Fund to support its work. The project will increase social connectedness and help Tower Hamlets communities cope with the impact of COVID-19, as part of a national initiative to embed social prescribing in communities and healthcare.
Their project will build more awareness of social prescribing through networks and public events and create a programme of activities for people of all ages under the title of “The Health Tree” impacting over 300 people from Tower Hamlets. They will organise initiatives to address issues of long-term COVID, mental health, and physical activity. Activities will include COVID Café’s, yoga, creative walks, nutrition, wellness workshops, woodwork, legal advice, and talks. This will result in increased awareness of social prescribing opportunities and healthier residents.
The Health Tree will be working with Tower Hamlets GP Care Group, Tower Hamlets CVS, National Academy of Social Prescribing, and London Plus to increase the uptake of social prescribing to help improve the health and resilience of a community that has been hit by COVID-19 and lockdowns.
Shaka Lish Wellbeing Manager at St Margaret’s House says: “We’re delighted that The Thriving Communities Fund has recognised the potential of our partnership in “The Health Tree”. Now, we will be able to build some exciting partnerships with social prescribing link workers and deliver a really exciting creative programme. This is important because of the significant impact on people’s mental health through being in lockdown.”
Social prescribing enables health care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The Thriving Communities Fund will support 37 projects across England and is being delivered in a unique partnership between the Arts Council England, Historic England and Natural England, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Sport England, the Money & Pensions Service, and NHS Charities Together.
It is part of the Thriving Community programme, which aims to strengthen the range of social prescribing activities offered locally, enhance collaboration and networking between local organisations and enable social prescribing link workers to connect people to more creative community activities and services. The programme is enabling providers working in arts, culture and heritage, nature, physical activity, and offering life advice and support to develop initiatives, learn and network, and build the evidence base for social prescribing.
Social Prescribing Day (18 March), is a national event aimed at maintaining the health of local communities. With the recent struggles and the significant strain placed on the NHS by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Social Prescribing Day celebrates the thousands of projects set up to maintain the health of our communities during the COVID19 pandemic.
In Tower Hamlets, our Social Prescribing service has been successfully delivering support to improve people’s health and wellbeing. In the last 12 months, our Social Prescribing team has exceeded its annual target by a 16% increase with 4,100 referrals and has supported 4,783 referrals for more than 300 services in the borough. Our team of Network-based Social Prescribers is responsible for providing non-clinical support by linking patients to community and voluntary services across the borough and adopting a holistic approach to supporting patients to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Join us in celebrating Social Prescribing Day using the hashtag #SocialPrescribingDay and @THGPCareGroup on Twitter and Facebook.
The GP Care Group aims to ensure that everyone in the local community has access to healthcare, which is why our Social Prescribing service is accessible to all, including those Tower Hamlets residents whose first language is not English. Last year the service worked closely with our Advocacy & Interpreting Service, supporting 32.4% Bengali/Sylheti, 1.9% Somali, 1% Arabic, and 16% of residents from 39 other languages.
Everyone in the borough can access the service for social and emotional psychological support, help to manage existing conditions, health and wellbeing support, and expert advice for reducing avoidable primary and secondary care episodes.
Hear what our Service Users think about the service:
“The Social Prescribing service was very supportive and really helped me to build my confidence and to improve my mental health. I was provided ongoing support from the SP service and it significantly increased my self-esteem to find employment.”
“I feel safe talking to you about my sexuality because you don’t judge, I feel better once I have spoken to you, I would like to give your details to my friend who is also gay. I feel he will also benefit from seeing you because you have been very helpful.”
“SB was supported with an online crisis grant application and secured a grant of £1,200.”
To Find out more about our Social Prescribing service click here.
A new Tower Hamlets Vaccination Centre is opening at The Art Pavilion in Mile End Park on Tuesday 23 March 2021. This will replace the vaccination centres at Queen Mary University London and Newby Place. The new centre has the potential to vaccinate up to 10,000 local residents per week.
Residents arriving for their vaccination at The Art Pavilion will find they can be dropped outside the door and all services are well spaced on the ground floor. The Art Pavilion also enjoys a lovely view of a pond and gardens – probably the most scenic vaccination centre in England.
Vaccinations at the centre continue to be strictly by appointment with eligible patients being contacted and invited to make an appointment. Residents who had their first vaccination dose at either Queen Mary University London or at Newby Place will be offered their second dose at this new vaccination centre, which is located at The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park, Clinton Road, London, E3 4QY.
The GP Care Group and Tower Hamlets Council have set up a helpline for Tower Hamlets residents who have received an invitation to be vaccinated, have queries about vaccination or need help booking an appointment. The telephone number is 020 7364 3030. The helpline is supported by and linked to, GP practices in Tower Hamlets so that the helpline can directly book local appointments for residents.
Tracy Cannell, Joint Chief Executive of the GP Care Group said: “We are pleased to be moving the primary care vaccination service into this lovely, new space at The Art Pavilion. The location provides a safe, socially distanced vaccination service, and the location is more accessible to people with disabilities.”
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “The opening of this centre which can vaccinate thousands of residents weekly is another impressive milestone in our local programme.
“Ensuring residents take up the offer of COVID-19 vaccination remains a priority for us. Alongside this new centre, we’ll continue to work with partners on initiatives such as hosting clinics in spaces such as mosques and community centres.”
Transport support is available for older people to get their COVID-19 vaccine from Age UK. The team can collect you from your home in an Uber cab and take you to your vaccination site. They will wait while you have your vaccine and then take you back home. This service is completely free to use for people who meet the criteria listed online. Anyone who would like to use this service can call 07754 751 079 or 020 8981 7124. Please make sure you have a booked vaccination appointment.
To help ensure the community is aware of the latest advice around COVID-19 and vaccines, including eligibility and booking, the council continues to run its successful COVID-19 community champions’ network. Anyone can sign up to become a champion and receive the latest information through text, WhatsApp, and weekly online webinars.
While the restrictions and lockdown rules are eased, the threat of COVID-19 remains. Residents are encouraged to continue to abide by all the social distancing, face covering and hand hygiene rules to continue to protect family and loved ones.
How to get to The Art Pavilion Vaccination Centre
Mile End Park has produced a map offering a visual, step-free guide from Mile End Underground Station to The Art Pavilion.
Buses Passing close to Mile End Art Pavilion are: 25, 277, D6, D7 and N25.
Tube The nearest underground station is Mile End. The station is in Zone 2.
Car There is a small drop-off area for residents who are being brought by car or taxi. There is very little car parking near the park. The local streets operate a permit system for residents. Limited parking is available at Bow Wharf. We recommend that you leave your car at home.
Congratulations to Tower Hamlets Together for being a finalist in the HSJ Value Awards 2021.
Tower Hamlets Together has been nominated in the following two categories: Paediatric Care Initiative of the Year for the Born Well, Growing Well Asthma and Wheeze Project, and the category of System or Commissioner Led Service Redesign Initiative for delivering better health through partnership.
The HSJ Value Awards recognises and celebrates healthcare projects and teams driving operational, financial, and clinical improvements across the health system.
The GP Care Group is proud to be part of this amazing achievement and we will continue to provide quality healthcare to Tower Hamlets residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, working alongside our partners Tower Hamlets CCG, Barts Health NHS Trust, East London Foundation Trust, LB Tower Hamlets, and TH Community Voluntary Sector.
The HSJ Value Awards 2021 ceremony will be taking place in June 2021 in Manchester.
With hearing and vision screenings being interrupted by COVID-19. Connecting Care for Children has released useful guidance to support families with children in Reception and Year 1, to help them spot signs of hearing or vision problems.
The guidance includes advice for parents to know when to contact their GP practice, 7 top tips for looking after children's eyesight during the lockdown, the benefits of vision and hearing tests, and immunisation advice.
Please share the below link with your networks and those who would benefit from this guidance.
This Safer Sleep Week (15-21 March) The Lullaby Trust is raising awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and safer sleep advice that reduces the risk of it occurring. The campaign is aimed at anyone looking after a young baby and provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies and offers emotional support for bereaved families.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that both parents make informed safer sleep choices for their baby. That’s why this year the Lullaby Trust is focusing on ensuring that safer sleep information is also directed at Dads. Becoming a Dad can be overwhelming, there’s so much information to take in, and often it's directed at mum. But it’s vital that both parents know how to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Raising awareness of safer sleep leads to a decrease in the number of babies dying. Sadly, around four babies a week still die from SIDS and if all parents were aware of safer sleep advice many lives could be saved. Around 700,000 babies are born every year in the UK, which is why it is important to continue to reach out to all new parents with safer sleep advice.
For more information on how to ensure your baby is sleeping safely, click here.
This month's THT Board was a candid and reflective meeting, focussed on diversity and inclusion, workforce, wellbeing and restoration. Two years into doing this role, it felt like a real shift to a space where leaders can be held to account -by people with lived experience and by each other -listen and learn, and lead the cultural change we need to see throughout the system.
First up we had an excellent presentation from Abdi and Mukhtar of Coffee AfrikCIC, a Somali social enterprise founded and led by people with lived experience. What began in 2018 as a community crisis cafe for people with serious mental illness or special educational needs has evolved into numerous award-winning community programmes. These include a Somali women's digital mental health peer support group, designed in response to the high level of need and the mistrust of mainstream services among the community due to previous poor experiences, anxieties about immigration status, and cultural stigma. Coffee Afrikhas also played a vital role during the pandemic, providing food parcels for 3211 clients, collecting 598 medicine parcels, and carrying out 1566 befriending at safe distance visits. A recent vaccination workshop led to increased willingness to have the vaccine, showing the importance of community leadership and trust in improving uptake.
Abdi and Mukhtar held a mirror up to us and the system -making clear how far we need to go on representation and inclusivity within the Board itself, throughout the THT workforce (especially at senior levels), and to deliver consistent culturally appropriate care. We have to be honest about the inequities that persist -Black men are more likely to be sectioned under the Mental HealthAct, have suicidal thoughts, and experience excess deaths -so we can move forward as a partnership. Action to improve access to language support, meet faith-related needs, provide culturally appropriate food, ensure gender-specific services, increase ethnic diversity and lived experience in the workforce, call out and reduce experiences of racism are all vital.
Board members welcomed the constructive challenge -we are not diverse and it's taking too long to achieve racial justice throughout health and care. We must look at each partner and the specific actions we need to take to address inequities. For example, the council's adults, health, and community directorate workforce is overall 2/3 Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups, but this shifts to only 1/3 when looking at people earning above £60k. This pattern is mirrored when looking at senior levels of large NHS providers and the ethnicity of headteachers. For some partners, we first need to do more work to get underneath workforce data and trends, so we can target change.
Inclusion is a live discussion in all organisations but we need to step up the pace and do the work ourselves as system leaders -anti-racism workshops for THT Board led by charity prepare in the pipeline. As a white leader and chair, I'm thinking hard about how best to use -and ultimately give up -my own privilege and power to bring more diverse voices and lived experience leadership to the fore, both at the Board and throughout the partnership.
Given these discussions, it was timely to receive the integrated workforce strategy, which was warmly approved by the Board. This has been in development since 2019 but the pandemic has led to a greater emphasis on goals around inclusion and wellbeing. As a partnership, we know our staff is the single most important factor in the quality and delivery of care, so the strategy is a guiding framework to support and develop the local health and care workforce. The four areas of focus are capacity and supply; diversity, equity, and inclusion; leadership and organisational development; enabling systems working. I'm excited to see how this rolls out and as ever welcome any feedback -it will only be successful if it genuinely works for staff from the frontline through to all parts of the partnership.
Finally, we heard from each partner about the current picture of staff wellbeing, almost one year into the pandemic. The pace of working has varied for different services and teams -the hospital and care homes have faced constant high pace, while the voluntary sector has stepped up especially in this latest wave and some council services are now getting busier, due to wider impacts of Covid. We recognised the trauma and burnout across the workforce, often being bottled up while people continue to respond to Covid amid central pressure to restore other services and a general backdrop of relentlessness. Frontline staff has kept going, but the current mood is weary and apprehensive.
It was reassuring to hear about how partners are seeking to support staff, offering a range of small interventions since what helps will be different for everyone. Everything from silent discos and wellbeing dogs at Bartsto directly employing teachers for a Zoom school at ELFT. There's a real commitment to respite and encouraging uptake of annual leave, especially for staff that was redeployed, and to offering support to cope with the personal impact of loss and trauma, including by training managers to have compassionate conversations.
We concluded by reflecting on the very difficult journey faced by staff at all levels throughout the pandemic and the need for leaders to recognise their own vulnerability, given the significant decisions taken in the face of uncertainty and tragedy. Being mindful of individual resilience and leading by example -for example by taking leave and using support on offer –are crucial actions too.
The GP Care Group is proud to support this year’s International Women’s Day, championing the theme #ChooseToChallenge.
Every year, IWD provides an important moment to showcase commitment to women's equality, launch new initiatives and action, celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness, highlight gender parity gains and more.
The day is celebrated and supported globally by industry, governments, educational institutions, community groups, professional associations, women's networks, charities and non-profit bodies, the media and more.
Collectively every person and all groups can make a difference within their sphere of influence by taking concrete action to help build a more gender equal world. Within the Care Group, our commitment to women’s development is strong. We are proud that women in the Care Group are positively represented at every level including executive management and our Board.
This International Women’s Day, some of the Care Group’s female workforce sent in their photos for our social media support campaign, striking the #ChooseToChallenge pose, with their hand held high to show commitment to choose to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world.
Please join in and tag @THGPCareGroup with the hashtag #THChooseToChallenge.
On Thursday 4 March 2021, Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and NHS Improvement, Johnny Mercer, Minister for Defence People and Veterans and Kate Davies CBE, Director of Health and Justice, Armed Forces and Sexual Assault Services Commissioning, NHS England and NHS Improvement, officially launched the new NHS Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS), at the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference organised by Kings College London Centre for Military Health Research.
From October 2020, the HIS started to mobilise across England, providing a much-needed service for veterans who are struggling with their mental health, are in a mental health crisis and / or need urgent and emergency care and treatment.
Over the last three years, NHS England and NHS Improvement has launched the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and more recently the Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). Together these form a complete mental health care pathway.
All NHS specialist veterans’ mental health services will now come under the name: Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, which has been developed by veterans and their families.
Op Courage is part of a nine-point NHS plan to support the Armed Forces. The new name makes NHS veterans mental health services easier to find and access; a name that inspires hope and bravery and is inclusive and relevant to both the NHS and military life. The change provides a simplified name with a clear ‘front door’ to care and support.
For more information, visit the NHS website
Whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, will be able to test themselves twice every week from home as schools return from 8 March.
Testing will continue to be a vital part of our response to COVID-19, supporting the roadmap set out by the Prime Minister earlier last week. As we cautiously ease restrictions in England, starting with the return of schools and moving towards more social mixing at the end of March, we need to be sure that each COVID-19 case is found as quickly and as easily as possible. Although cases are declining, everyone needs to play their part to keep the virus under control while keeping children and young people in school.
As laid out in the roadmap, secondary school and college students will now be tested twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school or college before transitioning to twice weekly home testing.
Primary school children will not be regularly asymptomatically tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but will continue to need to come forward for tests if they have symptoms.
In addition to this, the government has confirmed twice-weekly testing using rapid lateral flow tests will be given for free to all families and households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to help find more COVID-19 cases and break chains of transmission. Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders.
With about a third of individuals with coronavirus showing no symptoms and potentially spreading it without knowing, targeted, regular testing will mean more positive cases within households are found and prevented from entering schools and colleges, helping to keep educational settings safe.
Rapid testing detects cases quickly – in under 30 minutes – meaning positive cases can isolate immediately. This can be the difference between children being able to stay in school, or a class being sent home due to an outbreak. It could also be the difference between a workplace having to close for a period or being able to stay open and running.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “These rapid tests help uncover hidden cases of the virus and break chains of transmission, stopping outbreaks before they occur. Combined with other protective measures, they are a vital tool to help us lower infection rates and ensure that they stay low.
“I would encourage all eligible households to take up the offer of twice weekly rapid testing – it’s quick and painless and could help save lives.”
All households with primary and secondary school and college age children, and childcare and support bubbles, will be encouraged to start regular twice-weekly testing as schools return. Tests will be available for adults in these households to collect on 1 March. As with student testing, this is encouraged but not mandatory. A secondary PCR test will be required for positive lateral flow tests which are taken at home, either through at home PCR testing or at a local PCR testing site.
A new rapid lateral flow home ordering service launched on 1 March allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home. Click here to order online.
Sixteen frontline charities have formed a new partnership to encourage those with long-term health conditions and their carers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Organisations including The British Heart Foundation, African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), Macmillan Cancer Support and Mencap are joining with the government and NHS to promote vaccine uptake among those the charities support every day.
Since 15 February those in cohort 6 – people with certain underlying health conditions and their carers – have been receiving invites from their GP practice to come forward for life saving vaccinations to protect them from COVID-19.
Working with the government on the UK’s largest ever medical deployment, the charities will use the combined strength of their networks to reassure people with long-term health conditions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
The organisations which have signed up so far to become members of the coalition are:
These vital charities support those included in priority vaccination categories, including cohort 6 which covers individuals aged 16 to 64 with certain long-term conditions identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation as being at higher clinical risk from COVID-19.
These conditions include chronic respiratory, heart, kidney, liver disease and neurological conditions, including MS and epilepsy, vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, immunosuppression, asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen, morbid obesity, severe mental illness, as well as sickle cell, lupus and those on GP learning disability registers.
Following the government meeting its target of offering a first dose vaccine to the top four priority groups by 15 February, all those in cohort 6 are now eligible to get the jab and should be receiving their invitation for their first dose.
Minister for Vaccines, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “The vaccine is our way out of this pandemic and offers the chance to protect yourself and others – that’s why it’s vital that people get their jab when called to come forward.”
“I would like to thank them all for backing this life-saving campaign and offering their expertise and assistance to support the largest medical deployment in British history.”
Cohort 6 also includes carers who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.
The charities will support the campaign by sharing content across their channels, including a new campaign video featuring people in cohort 6 getting their jab, and putting forward both those who represent the charities and those the charities work with to encourage others to take up the vaccine.
Co-Founder and Chief Executive of ACLT, Orin Lewis, said: “The ACLT feels compelled to ensure we do all we can to guarantee any decisions made regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, is done with knowledge of the verified facts and the science behind the vaccine.”
“Far too many lives have already been lost, however now there is a real opportunity for positive change especially on behalf of patients with immunosuppression systems linked to stem cell, blood and organ related disorders.
“We feel extremely passionately people should seriously consider protecting themselves, their loved ones and society at large. When they do make that decision, they need to ensure it’s an informed one based upon verified facts and not myths, fears and taboos.”
To counter the effects of COVID-19, lockdown and its impact on families, Tower Hamlets Council is inviting parents to join their virtual mental health and wellbeing sessions specifically to support parents.
The Local Authority has pulled together local experts to deliver training to prevent as many people as possible from developing mental health difficulties and ensuring those with pre-existing or emerging difficulties access the right support.
The sessions are part of the council’s Wellbeing for Education programme, which aims to support mental wellbeing and resilience and aid mental health recovery for school staff, pupils, parents and carers’, in light of the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown.
View the available sessions below. They are free to attend and will be held online.
Date: Wednesday 3 March
Time: 2 – 3pm
Led by: Dr Lauren Coates (Educational Psychologist) and Penelope Edwards (Trainee Educational Psychologist)
Play! What is it good for?! Well, lots of things actually! Parents, join us for a short webinar followed by a Q&A. We will explore ways to bring playfulness back into your life during lockdown and explore why it’s so important.
Date: Monday 8 March
Time: 2pm - 3pm
Led by: Dr Patrick Sullivan, Dr Michael Palmer (Educational Psychologists) and Jack Hammond (Trainee Educational Psychologist)
A short webinar for parents of primary aged children, followed by a Q&A session. We will explore the current challenges of home learning, what children are gaining, what they are missing, and share some practical strategies for how to support children at home.
Date: Wednesday 10 March
Time: 2 - 3pm
Led by: Julie Burns (Senior Educational Psychologist), Dr Lauren Coates (Educational Psychologist) and Guy Tamlyn (Trainee Educational Psychologist)
A session for parents and school staff who support children who are expressing worries about returning to school post-lockdown.
To book a place on any of the sessions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the session(s) you would like to attend and your contact details.
Please note that places are limited and will be booked on a first come first served basis.
The British Society for Immunology has created a free and easy-to-read guide for people to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccinations. The guide explains how the vaccines work, answers common questions, and has reliable and evidence-based information.
You can access the guide by clicking the links below. Please share the guide with friends and family to encourage them to have the COVID-19 vaccination.
Click here to access the guide.
You can download the QR code poster below.
Public Health England has launched a Better Health campaign to encourage the nation to work towards a healthier lifestyle, whether it’s losing weight or getting active, looking after their mental wellbeing or quitting smoking, with the support of a variety of tools and apps, including the updated NHS Weight Loss Plan app.
New data reveals that eight in 10 (80%) adults have made the active decision to make changes to their lifestyle in 2021, with seven in 10 (68%) saying that they are motivated to make lifestyle changes due to coronavirus.
To support you Tower Hamlets Council has free support available, including weight management programmes which can help your family lose weight and keep it off for good. Click here to find out more.
To start making healthier choices, search ‘Better Health’ or visit nhs.uk/betterhealth for free tools and support with programmes to start leading a healthier lifestyle today.
GPs, Nurses, and healthcare workers on the frontline, and across the GP Care Group’s Network 8 (Isle of Dogs) have united in sharing a video message to encourage members of the public to have their COVID-19 vaccination when they are invited.
The short video featured a range of healthcare staff who are all from the GP practices at Island Health, Barkantine Practice, Island Medical Centre, and Docklands Medical Centre.
Recognising that there is some hesitancy among some communities about having the COVID vaccine, Isle of Dogs staff have come together virtually in their working environment to show that having the vaccination protects people. Practices are strongly urging all those eligible and who have been contacted to take their vaccine.
If you are in one of the priority groups and have not yet been invited to have your vaccination, please call the COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline.
Please watch and share the video with your friends and family.
BBC Asian Network is helping people in the South Asian community to spot potential scams, with advice videos in five South Asian languages - Gujarati, Urdu, Tamil, Punjabi, and Sylheti.
As COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out across the UK, fraudsters are using this as an opportunity to scam people by asking people for their bank details to book a vaccination appointment. The COVID vaccines are free, and the NHS is warning everyone to be vigilant about fake vaccination invitations.
Please share the advice videos below with communities that will benefit from these language videos.
Watch the videos
The NHS England and NHS Improvement, together with Public Health England, have launched the ‘Help Us, Help You’ lung cancer campaign to encourage people with a cough lasting three weeks or more and who don’t have COVID-19, to contact their GP practice.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, some members of the public are reluctant to use NHS services, citing concerns about being exposed to the virus and not wanting to be a burden on the NHS 2 In addition, there is a lack of awareness that a cough for three weeks or more on its own can be a sign of lung cancer, and a need to remind the audience to act on a persistent cough and not wait to see if it resolves.3 While a cough for three weeks or more is probably nothing serious, it could be a sign of something that needs treatment. If it is cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable1 and can save lives.
The ‘Help Us, Help You’ lung cancer campaign has released a powerful video, featuring Sir Andrew Strauss, Gaby Roslin, and members of the public who have first-hand experience of how lung cancer can affect you, your friends, and your family. The video urges people to contact their GP practice if they’ve had a cough for three weeks or more and don’t have COVID-19. It also encourages friends and family to support a loved one if they are concerned for their health.
Your NHS is here to see you, safely. Help Us, Help You.
Click here for more information.
We didn't meet as a Board in January due to the urgent Covidcrisis at that time, so if it isn't too odd to say, I wish everyone a safe, healthy, and more hopeful 2021. February's THT Exec Board was only an hour, but we managed to cover two crucial issues in-depth -trauma-informed care and Covidvaccinations.
We opened with a powerful and practical presentation about trauma-informed care, from Mina -an expert experience-and Myrto -a complex trauma psychologist from ELFT. This discussion has been on the Board's forward plan for some time but feels highly relevant as we try to rebuild from the pandemic. Rather than focusing on particular labels or diagnoses, trauma-informed care recognises the impact of adversity on individuals and at its core is about treating people as human beings with engagement and interactions that respect their specific histories. Whilst the presentation was from ELFT, there was a clear message that trauma-informed care can be relevant for many people at any "front door" across the THT system.
Mina shared how the approach recognises that trauma is rooted in the abuse of power, so it moves health and care services away from paternalistic approaches. It also acknowledges the systemic causes of trauma e.g. structural racism, misogyny, heterosexuality, and ableism. For example, as trauma is defined as either one event or repeated exposure, persistent racist microaggressions can have a "snowball effect" on trauma for people of colour. Given the significant disparities in Covid-19 serious illness and deaths among Black, Brown, and disabled people, trauma-informed care could be an essential part of how we recognise and respond to collective and individual trauma moving forward.
In practical terms, trauma-informed care looks like keeping proper records, so people are not forced to repeatedly tell their stories; timing calls or appointments sensitively, for example not phoning someone to ask about their experiences of suicide first thing in the morning; genuine collaboration and autonomy with patients and service users. Board members were unanimous in wanting to adopt trauma-informed care at both strategic and practical levels -from a wider partnership commitment to being a "trauma-informed place", to asking services to roll out the practical framework and steps to their teams. We also reflected on its relevance for the workforce in order to support staff wellbeing, given the significant levels of trauma experienced by frontline workers in all partners.
The second item was the Covid-19 response, specifically the vaccination rollout. The GP Care Group reported that despite initial issues with data and ongoing lags in information, locally we are now getting to the cusp of priority groups 1-4, so are focused on persuading people who are eligible to attend and are about to move to offer the vaccine to 65+. There's been a significant partnership effort more recently -for example, the council and GP Care Group working together to set up the vaccination helpline, and the London Muslim Centre setting up vaccine clinics at the East London Mosque.
Board members had questions about the uptake of vaccinations from different population groups -we heard that Tower Hamlets is not an outlier in seeing a lower proportion of people from Black, Asian and other ethnic groups in general. Birmingham has been flagged as an area of good practice but we must also avoid making broad brush comparisons, given the different populations that tend to be unhelpfully grouped together as "BAME". We reflected about the negative connotations of terms like "vaccine hesitancy" which imply fault on the part of the community, mask the complexity of the issues, and fail to acknowledge structural and historic reasons why there may be mistrust in the health and care system. Equally, there are significant differences between ethnicities and "Asians" are not one group. Some of the "hesitancy" has also been due to practical reasons like place -some of the vaccine sites (chosen centrally) have not been the most accessible especially for olderpeople across all ethnicities.
This is why local efforts rooted in community partnerships are crucial, and the Board felt positive that more progress was now being made on this. Some members felt we underestimated how much we needed to do on this front, as people will have very individual reasons for questioning the vaccine, which requires staff resources to have supportive and sensitive conversations that can give the reassurance people need. The Board reflected on implementation challenges -many were centrally driven, e.g. logistics, planning, and supply have been "lumpy" and unpredictable, outside of local control. Nevertheless, the Board felt there were issues that we could have predicted, given the depth of knowledge of our communities across all ages, ethnicities, and needs, and experience of what has worked in the past.
Overall, there was a sense among Board members that we are "coming down the other side of the mountain", but there will be many more months for Covid response to come. We agreed to have a deep dive on the workforce at the next Board meeting, particularly in the context of growing pressure to step back up "normal" health and care services, while Covidpatients and the vaccine rollout remain major priorities, and recognising the trauma and burnout frontline staff are facing.
A temporary diabetes helpline has been launched in response to disruption to normal diabetes services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NHS Diabetes Advice helpline is intended to be available until mid-March 2021 and is for adults living with diabetes who use insulin to manage their condition and require clinical advice. Where routine care has been disrupted, the helpline is available for clinical advice to help patients understand how to effectively manage their diabetes.
Tower Hamlets residents registered with a GP practice can access NHS Diabetes Advice helpline on 0345 123 2399 Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm.
A new NHS service is now live to help you find your NHS number. This service is available to anyone living in England who has forgotten or does not know their NHS number. You can also use this service on behalf of someone else where the name, date of birth, and registered home postcode are known. You can opt for the number to be sent to you by text, email, or letter.
Click here to access the service
Local Women graduating from the inaugural BAME Dare to Lead Leadership course at account3 have created an animation to raise awareness of domestic abuse in their community.
SiS (Sistas in Strength), the animation produced in collaboration with Bristol-based animation firm, Studio Giggle, is an allegorical tale of a woman feeling trapped and alone in a world of psychological, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. The animation puts a fresh perspective on a challenging subject, whilst reinforcing the essential point that no one needs to feel or be alone – help is always available.
Launching on 16th February 2021, the video will be available across social media platforms. To further raise awareness, the campaign will run until International Women’s Day.
Led by Account3, a community-based support organisation whose driver is to support women’s economic independence and personal development, the 12 weeks BAME Leadership course spearheaded a group of women from the borough. As well as the Social Action Project, they completed a series of online classes on feminist leadership values, networking, negotiations, building personal confidence, as well as other leadership topics. The Social Action Project is a collaborative project that brings together and builds on their learning.
The decision was made to create an animation after a group session that saw women share their own personal experiences of domestic abuse and discussions on alarming reports of an increase in reporting of domestic abuse associated with the Covid-19 pandemic in Tower Hamlets.
This animation video was created to reach out, not only to BAME women, but to all women in solidarity, with the intention to share a message of Hope, Encouragement, Freedom, and Raised Awareness.
“It is so important that women have space to come together as knowledge holders and change-makers. We need local organisations such as Account 3 with a deep commitment to providing space that supports women’s leadership, creativity, and resistance. I am incredibly proud of this amazing group of Tower Hamlets women. Thank you for choosing to develop this animation, which not only raises awareness of domestic violence but deliberately centres on Black/Global Majority women. In solidarity” Marai Larasi MBE, M.A, Advocate, Community Organiser.
To view the SiS animation on YouTube click hereSiS animation with Bangla subtitles click here SiS animation with Somali Subtitles click here
If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, contact the 24/7 National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 257.
GP Care Group board member, Dr Jackie Applebee, has featured in iNews.co.uk to talk about her experience of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Tower Hamlets.
In the article, Dr Applebee spoke about being a GP in east London since the 90s and her pride in the local GP workforce who pull together and work effectively for the local population. A good example of this is how healthcare workforces have come together to ensure that as many local residents as possible are vaccinated quickly. She said: “This is a huge logistical challenge. Thousands of vaccines are delivered at a time and must be used up within days. It is often difficult to reach the elderly and vulnerable at short notice, but it is testament to General Practice that we are on target.”
Touching on her experience of working in the vaccination centre, Dr Applebee shared the buzz of being properly patient facing again after so many months, an experience that has allowed her to meet a wide range of local residents. “I have met an elderly man who has spent lockdown writing Grime music. Bangladeshi and Somali septuagenarians take selfies, as the needle goes in, to post on social media. They are determined to encourage their communities, most at risk of bad outcomes from Covid-19, that to be immunised is a good thing.”
She rounds of the article by extolling the benefits of using existing local infrastructure to deliver services, which can be attributed to the general success of the vaccine programme. Dr Applebee said: “… one thing is painfully clear; when it comes to delivering health services, public over private is better every time.”
Read the full article on iNews
Thanks to a partnership between NHS trusts and the GP Care Group, patients can now have an Outpatients blood test at any Tower Hamlets GP practice.
Tower Hamlet's Barts Health patients no longer need to attend hospital for a blood test after the new community phlebotomy service was launched in Tower Hamlets, echoing the model working across north east London boroughs in four Newham community phlebotomy clinics and three Waltham Forest community phlebotomy clinics.
This new service will help to keep patients away from the hospital and safe in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
GP practices are open to patients who have had blood tests requested by GPs or by hospital teams. As well as offering greater convenience and cutting down on travel time, they are also helping patients avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital while Covid-19 remains in circulation.
Patients will be given a leaflet and information when they see their Consultant. Patients will be asked to call the GP Care Group on the SPA number 0300 033 5000 to request a blood test label and appointment. If the SPA cannot connect to the practice the patient will be asked to call the practice direct and book their own appointment. The SPA will print the label and post it out to the patient by first class post. The patient will then be able to get their blood tests completed at their local GP practice.
Find out more about the service in this blog from consultant Tom Butler who is leading the project on behalf of Barts Health. Read it here.
Join us on Wednesday 17 February from 7pm - 8pm for a virtual event hosted by Tower Hamlets Council.
The online event will give an overview of COVID-19 and the current picture. Residents will have the opportunity to ask Mayor John Biggs and a panel of health experts questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and share any concerns they may have.
To attend the event all you need to do is register online here and submit your questions in advance. All questions submitted will be published after the event.
This webinar is the first in a planned series on the Covid-19 vaccine. Webinars to follow will be tailored events to meet the needs of our communities in Tower Hamlets, including an event for our Somali community and Bengali community.
Please help share this event with anyone you feel will benefit to help us reach communities in Tower Hamlets.
NHS England has released a series of videos of NHS doctors, nurses, and other frontline staff who have come forward to help reassure people that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and have been independently tested to the highest standards. The clinicians have recorded messages in some of the most spoken community languages in the capital.
The languages the videos have been produced in are:
Please watch and share the videos below widely with these communities and your networks to keep Tower Hamlets safe.
Watch the videos
More videos in additional languages, including Swahili and Yoruba, are in development. There are also resources and information in 10 different languages which you can view here.
Public Health England has produced a series of short videos of GPs across the UK who explain the COVID-19 vaccination programme to the public. The videos have been released by Public Health England and give an understanding of how the COVID vaccines are safe, and how they work to help prevent the virus from spreading.
You can access the videos on YouTube by clicking the links below. Please share these videos widely with your friends, family, and your networks.
Dr Mary Ramsay - watch here Dr Kevin Brown - watch here Dr Shriti Pattani - watch here Professor Anthony Harnden - watch here Dr. Wei Shen Lim - watch here Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam - watch here Dr Julie Yates - watch here
Barts Health NHS Trust has put together a range of questions and answers, blogs, videos, and messages from Faith leaders and staff highlighting the importance of getting the vaccination.
Please watch and share the videos below widely with your friends, family, and networks.
Are you or do you know someone who is Muslim and worried about the COVID vaccine?
Many UK Muslims are from ethnic minorities who are at more risk from COVID-19 related complications/ death, but who also tend to be more vaccine-hesitant. The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) has put together some useful infographics answering common Coronavirus myths, to encourage Muslim communities to have the COVID vaccine.
You can read the dispelled COVID myths here
Please share the above link with anyone you think would benefit from this important information.
Black Mums Matter Too is leading a campaign to recruit 200 Black mums and mums-to-be across England, and if you have access to this group, they need your help.
We know that pregnancy and parenthood in 2021 might be more challenging than in normal times. As a Black mum, navigating the perinatal journey can be even tougher.
The reality is that Black women in the UK are five times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women. Participants will receive free, expert support & help us reduce maternal mortality rates for Black mums and their babies.
Expert support with #BlackMumsMatterToo:
Please spread the word and help provide vital insights for the healthcare community to take action against health inequalities for Black mums and mums-to-be. Please share the link below.
Click here to find out more
Last week, local GPs, vaccinators, and prescribers took part in a series of short films to help tackle conspiracies around the COVID vaccines, and to encourage BAME communities to protect themselves by having the vaccine. The videos highlight how the vaccine is safe, effective, and our best protection against COVID-19.
Please watch and share the videos below widely with people in BAME communities to keep Tower Hamlets safe.
Dr Kamaldeep Kamber, Senior Partner at Globe Town Surgery and Clinical Director of Network 1 appeared on Newsnight to explain the problems of vaccine hesitancy and what we are doing to encourage people to have the vaccine.
Dr Abdul Wadud Kamali, GP at the Limehouse Practice in Tower Hamlets, appeared on Bengali community TV Station’s TV One, to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine in Sylheti, dispelling myths and providing reassurance.
Tower Hamlets Council has produced a helpful video featuring local GPs, vaccinators, and prescribers at our Cable Street vaccination centre encouraging everyone invited to have the Covid-19 vaccine to take up the offer.
Sheikh Mohammed Mahmoud, the Senior Imam at East London Mosque, also encouraged his community to take the vaccine and helped to tackle conspiracies around COVID immunisation.
NHS England's Associate Chief Clinical Information Officer and a practicing NHS doctor, Dr Harpreet Sood, highlighted that the vaccine has been endorsed by all religious groups.
Tower Hamlets residents who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine will now be supported to book their appointment through a new council helpline - 020 7364 3030.
The helpline, staffed with call handlers who can speak community languages, will work to ensure eligible residents, including those who are digitally excluded and vulnerable, all get Covid-19 vaccine appointments.
The team will both proactively call residents who have been contacted about being vaccinated but not yet booked their appointment and answer incoming calls from eligible residents who want to book their appointment or ask questions. This includes where vaccine centres are in the borough and how people can travel to their appointments.
Call handlers have also been trained by the council’s public health team to support anyone experiencing vaccine hesitancy and provide factual information to address any concerns.
The helpline will run alongside the council’s existing Covid-19 support line, set up back in March 2020. So far the helpline has directly helped over 14,000 residents and continues to support vulnerable residents and those self-isolating around food and medication, applying for Covid-19 support payments and financial concerns and any mental health and wellbeing issues, including social isolation.
The helpline is supported by, and linked to, GP practices in Tower Hamlets so that the helpline can directly book local appointments for residents.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Making sure everyone in our community are able to book their appointments and access information about the vaccine is vital. This is one of the first vaccine helplines in London and will ensure even the most vulnerable don’t fall through the gaps.
“If you are one of the groups eligible for vaccination, currently anyone aged 70 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable, please book your appointment or call the helpline for advice. We all have a part to play in keeping ourselves and the wider community safe.”
Although the Covid-19 vaccine programme is being rolled out in phases, with groups becoming eligible based on their risk, everyone should ‘be ready’ to receive their vaccine. All residents are being encouraged to read about the vaccine if they have any concerns so when it is their turn, they are confident in taking up the offer of vaccination. Remember:
Tracy Cannell, Joint Chief Executive for Tower Hamlets GP Care Group, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the council to make sure that all residents are supported to receive their vaccine as soon as they are eligible.”
The vaccine helpline is currently only for those who are eligible for vaccination. Residents who want to find out more about the vaccine, and will be eligible in coming months, can read about the vaccine on the council website www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/vaccine.
On Thursday 4 February Tower Hamlets Council is supporting Time To Talk Day, led by Time to Change, a growing social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems.
This year’s event might look a little different, but at times like this, a video call, virtual coffee or socially distanced walk with a friend or family member are more important than ever. Having a small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference in people’s lives.
You can find more resources and local services in support of mental health by visiting the Council’s website.
Find out more
National HIV Testing Week runs from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 February to encourage people to take an HIV test at least once a year as part of their routine sexual health checks.
Testing regularly means that you’re more likely to be diagnosed earlier, and in turn start treatment earlier to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Those who live, work or study in Tower Hamlets can do a free and confidential test at home, provided by Positive East. You can find out your HIV status from the comfort of your own home and be coached on how to use it with the support of the team on the phone.
A virtual event for London’s Bangladeshi community is taking place on Tuesday 2 February, 20:00 to 21:30 – accessible online or via a landline
Join Professor Kevin Fenton, the Public Health Director for London, and Martin Machray, the Joint Chief Nurse for NHS London, at this information session. They will share advice, information and answer your questions. The event will be hosted by Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council and Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK, and a range of other important speakers.
They will be giving advice and answering questions on:
How to attend:You do not need to RSVP. To attend, please join the virtual event in one of the following ways:
To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, go to nhs.uk/coronavirusvaccine or call119 for free.
1st February marks the start of Fizz Free February meaning it’s time to ditch sugary drinks for 28 days. Will you be making the pledge to #gofizzfree?
Launched by Southwark Council in 2018, Fizz Free February is a great way to reduce your sugar intake by cutting out fizzy drinks. By going fizz free for all of February, it can help you on your way to drinking less sugary drinks for the rest of the year too.
This campaign raises awareness of the health implications of drinking fizzy drinks which often contain high amounts of sugar. *Latest data from Public Health England on the nation’s diet shows that sugar now makes up 13.5% of 4 to 10-year-olds and 14.1% of teenagers’ daily calorie intake respectively, while the official recommendation is to limit sugar to no more than 5%.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Cutting the amount of sugar we consume in our food and drink is something we should all be doing to improve our health, maintain a healthy weight and keep our teeth free from decay. Giving up fizzy drinks during February is a really simple and effective way to achieve this- the amount of sugar in some fizzy drinks is shocking and can really add up. We are committed to supporting our residents to be more Sugar Smart and would encourage everyone to take on the Fizz Free February challenge.”
The GP Care Group’s Community Child Healthy Weight Team is supporting the Fizz Free February campaign. Team Lead, Phoebe Kalungi said: “Fizz Free February is a fantastic way to cut down on sugar and make positive changes. I hope everyone will take part in this campaign and help raise awareness around the benefits of cutting down on sugar. Good luck to everyone going fizz free this February!”
To join in, just pledge to give up fizzy drinks for 28-days using the Fizz February calendar, and tweet us using #THgofizzfree @THGPCareGroup @SugarSmartUK.
The hard truth about soft drinks:
For more reasons why you should quit fizzy drinks visit the Sugar Smart website.
A generation of babies is at risk of COVID-19 fall out without a concerted effort from local support systems to pull together to work to improve outcomes for the youngest in our society, a report published today reveals.
‘Working for babies: Lockdown lessons from local systems’ commissioned by the First 1001 Days Movement reviews the response to the COVID-19 pandemic for babies by local health and social care systems.
The report highlights how there are often “baby blind-spots” where babies’ needs are overlooked in policy, planning and funding. It also shows the importance of factors which have been known for a long time to be critical in supporting 0-2s: clear and committed leadership; mature and strong local partnerships; and professionals who are connected to each other and to their communities and empowered to meet families’ needs. The First 1001 Days Movement is now calling for governments across the UK to focus on how they can develop these important factors, so that all babies live in a ‘baby-positive’ local system which ensures they get the best start in life.
The GP Care Group is interested in the First 1001 days report for the reasons below.
0-19 Service Development Lead, Jenny Gilmour said: “The Working for Babies reports links directly with our Health Visiting and Family Nurse Partnership services by supporting new parents. This has been even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is why we’ve been working in partnership with Tower Hamlets Together and voluntary organisations across the wider elements of Early Years and Children's Centres to promote health and improve health outcomes for children, young people and their families across Tower Hamlets. Our services have also been working with families to deliver early universal assessment and identification of needs and achieving delivery of early intervention.
A lifelong benefit of babies having healthy mental health provided within a loving relationship with parents, family, carers and local community allows a positive impact on subsequent lifelong health, good education and access to employment.”
Quotes from the Working For Babies report:
“Being a baby or toddler was a lockdown ‘risk factor’ in its own terms. Those who have been exposed to other risk factors in addition...could be considered as having been subject to ‘double jeopardy’”.
“I’m not sure there was any thinking about babies’ needs. We heard a lot about school age children and parents working from home but little about babies’ needs” - Practitioner.
You can read the report here