Commissioners in East Berkshire are urging people with diabetes and other long-term conditions to have the flu jab to reduce their risk of developing serious complications.

Complications can include pneumonia; inflammation of the heart; brain; muscle tissues and multi-organ failure (e.g. respiratory and kidney).

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A diabetic patient’s elevated blood glucose level, which occurs as a natural response to fighting infection, can, if left untreated also become a serious risk, with potentially fatal consequences. Clinicians’ advise that even patients whose diabetes is well managed and under control should still have the flu vaccine.

Jo Greengrass, said, “It really is important for patients with diabetes and other long- term health conditions to make sure they have the flu vaccine.

“Having the vaccine is the best way of protecting yourself from contracting the flu virus; and so minimising any risk of more serious complications that might arise from infection caused by the flu virus. It is just not worth the risk of exposing yourself to potentially higher risks of more serious illness.

She added: “Diabetic patients can have the vaccine free of charge, via their GP surgery or local pharmacy. Patients should have the vaccine as soon as possible, giving themselves the best chance of immunity before the flu virus begins actively circulating in the community.”

In addition to people with diabetes, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination on the NHS this year if you are:

  • Aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2018)
  • Aged from 6 months to less than 65 years of ages with a serious medical condition which includes chronic (long term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis; chronic heart disease, such as heart failure; chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or five; chronic liver disease; chronic neurological disease such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease, or learning disability; diabetes; splenic dysfunction; weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment); morbidly obese (defined as BMI of 40 and above)
  • You are pregnant (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season)
  • A child aged two to eight on 31 August 2017
  • Living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. Please note that this does not include prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence
  • You are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or if you are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill

If you do not fall within any of the above groups, you can still have the vaccination by paying for it at your local pharmacist.

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, extreme tiredness and aches and pains in the joints and muscles. Healthy individuals usually recover within a week, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death. If you do get the flu make sure you rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthily. Taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce any fever or discomfort, can also help.

Flu is caused by influenza viruses and not bacteria. Therefore, antibiotics will not help to treat it. However, if there are complications from getting flu, antibiotics may be needed.

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed. You can prevent the spread of the virus by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you can wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.

Thames Hospice commissioned to lead on specialist palliative and end-of-life care model

East Berkshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have commissioned Thames Hospice to deliver an integrated care model for palliative and end-of-life patients and their loved ones.

Starting from April next year, the model will streamline the existing services available across Windsor, Maidenhead, Ascot, Bracknell and Slough. Anyone requiring community based specialist palliative care will be able to access the expert medical and nursing team based at Thames Hospice. They will benefit from services such as day therapies, counselling, a rapid response service and a 24/7 advice line and inpatient services.

The community palliative care team is currently run by both Thames Hospice and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Fiona Slevin-Brown, Director of Strategy and Operations for the CCGs, said: “This is an opportunity to improve services for our patients and their families and we are confident that moving this service to Thames Hospice will enable them to expand the capacity and reach of end-of-life services through enhanced integration of the teams.

“We would like to thank Berkshire Healthcare for their ongoing support to end-of-life care through services such as community nursing, and look forward to working with all our providers to ensure excellent end-of-life provision for patients.”

Debbie Raven, Chief Executive, Thames Hospice, said: “We are thrilled that the CCGs of East Berkshire have commissioned us to lead the delivery of all specialist palliative care services to our local community.

“Today’s announcement clearly demonstrates their continued commitment to investing in end-of-life and palliative care services in East Berkshire, and in us as the organisation to lead this more cohesive model.

“This integrated approach will further strengthen the high quality end-of-life-care services we are able to provide alongside our partners in East Berkshire.”

Jill Barker, Regional Director for Berkshire Healthcare said: “We have worked in partnership with Thames Hospice over the years to provide excellent end of life care, and our district nursing teams will continue to offer high quality palliative care support to the people of east Berkshire.”

Front line practitioners and leads from across the county met this week to attend the East Berkshire against violence and exploitation conference.

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More than 250 professionals attended the conference at Slough’s Copthorne Hotel on Wednesday 22 November.

The conference gave attendees the opportunity to gain insight into various complex and sensitive issues, including coercive control, child sexual exploitation, the impact of gangs and female genital mutilation.

A range of speakers, all experts in their fields; brought together the best of research and practice to provide attendees with a deeper understanding of current safeguarding challenges, sharing good practice which they can pass on to colleagues in their workplaces and organisations.

The room heard powerful messages from survivors who bravely shared their experiences throughout the day.

By the end of the conference attendees had learned the skills required to recognise the signs of exploitation, respond appropriately to the needs of service users and refer people using the appropriate local and/or national pathways.

Councillor Arvind Dhaliwal, cabinet member for regulation and consumer protection, said: “This conference has provided practitioners from all over the county with an invaluable opportunity to further their knowledge and understanding of a series of difficult issues that affect people, not only in Slough, but across the entire country.

“The brave survivors who shared their stories have ensured we gain a greater understanding of their experiences, providing us with the insight needed to make sure we offer victims the level of support they deserve and need.”

Debbie Hartrick, Associate Director, Safeguarding for East Berks Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s been a privilege working with such a highly skilled and committed group across East Berkshire. Nothing has been too big or small a task to ensure this conference could be brought to a wide variety of professionals. Attendees will be able to take learnings back to their organisations and keep driving forward high quality services and interventions.”

The East Berkshire against violence and exploitation conference was organised and delivered by representatives from East Berkshire CCG, Slough Borough Council, TVP Slough, Berkshire Health Foundation Trust, Frimley Health Foundation Trust, Slough Employability, DASH, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and Bracknell Forest Council and funded by the Bracknell and Ascot; Slough; and Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead Clinical Commissioning Groups.


Extended access to GP services in East Berkshire continue to operate for people who find it difficult to take time off work or have other commitments during daytime hours.

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People living in Slough, Windsor, Ascot, Maidenhead and Bracknell, can access additional appointments outside of normal practice hours, including some at weekends. People must be registered with a GP surgery locally in order to access such services. These appointments are available through their own GP practices and the service is bookable in advance only.

The appointments are for routine general practice issues and not for emergency care. Patients will be given the location of their appointment at the time of making a booking.

The following extended GP opening hours are available to those living within Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead:

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The following information is relevant to those living in Bracknell and Ascot:

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For people living in Slough, the following applies:

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Katerina Nash, Senior Commissioning Manager for GP Access Fund for East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “The aim of offering additional appointments outside of normal general practices opening hours, which is part of a national programme, is to provide patients with more convenient access to general routine appointments. These additional appointments also to help relieve pressure in general practice and reduce the time spend by patients in hospital emergency departments when they can receive high quality care in the community.”

Parents of children aged two to three years are being reminded that there is still time for them to visit their GP to receive their free flu vaccination.

The vaccine comes in the form of a simple nasal spray for young children, which is pain free, quick and effective.

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This year, all GPs are administering the free vaccine for children aged two to three years old, while school nurses are running clinics for children in years reception, one, two, three and four.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints, and extreme tiredness. This can often last several days. Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include painful ears infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia.

East Berkshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) Associate Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety, Jo Greengrass said: “It is important that we protect young children from the flu virus in time for winter by getting them vaccinated now.

“Children can become very poorly if they catch flu impacting on the wider family, as parents/carers may have to take time off work to look after them.

“Protecting your child can also stop flu spreading to other children and the family, especially babies and grandparents, who may be at higher risk from flu.”

It is important to get your child vaccinated even if they had the flu vaccination last year. The flu vaccine provides protection against the strains of flu that are likely to circulate this year and which may be different from last year.

The NHS and local councils across East Berkshire are gearing up to help people stay well this winter and to manage the extra pressure on services that the cold weather brings.

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Hospitals, GP surgeries, pharmacies, community health and social care services are working together to keep people well at home and to quickly and effectively treat those that do need emergency care.

The NHS “Stay Well This Winter” campaign is advising the public about how to ward off common winter illnesses before they become more serious and a hospital stay is needed.

Dr Jim O’Donnell, a clinical chair within East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “Winter is always a challenging time of year for health services and this year will be no exception. However, we have plans in place to help manage any additional demand.

“We have been planning where extra resources are needed over winter. Targeted schemes include preventing admissions to hospital by ensuring people at risk are looked after in their homes and quickly get the specialist care they need. They also include helping people leave hospital when they are ready to go home, minimising delays to discharge.”

Dr Jim O’Donnell added: “I would urge people to help us to help themselves by taking some simple steps to stay well this winter and to use the most appropriate service if they do become unwell. Please call NHS 111 unless it is life threatening or very serious.

“With an ever growing and ageing population, the NHS is seeing and treating more people than ever. In winter months, flu, norovirus, and respiratory problems means many frail and vulnerable people get sicker. This leads to more people being admitted in an emergency which has a big impact on hospitals.”

Here are some simple steps to help you and your loved ones stay well this winter:

  • Vaccinate yourself and your family, particularly those in at-risk groups, against flu.  It is important that pregnant women, children aged two and three and in reception to year four have the vaccine to protect themselves and the wider community. Flu hospitalises thousands of people a year
    As soon as you feel unwell with a cough or cold, seek advice from your local pharmacist before it gets too serious
  • To reduce the risk of spreading your cold: wash your hands often with warm water and soap, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze and bin used tissues as quickly as possible
    Stock up your medicines cabinet with your usual painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, cold and flu remedies, anti-diarrhoea medicine, oral rehydration salts and tissues.  Don’t forget a thermometer!
  • If you are ill, call the non-emergency NHS 111 helpline which can provide you will health advice and advise you on the best service for your needs
  • Keep as warm as you can and if possible maintain rooms at 18°c
  • If your child is unwell check or call NHS111

You can also help the elderly in your communities, who are often isolated and can be slow to seek help, by:

  • Getting to know your elderly neighbours
  • Helping them keep warm and fed
  • Encouraging them to keep mobile
  • Helping with shopping and home tasks
  • Taking them to shops, GP or the local pharmacy to pick up medications or get their flu jab
  • Watching for illness and help them seek help early
  • Checking on them in bad weather

The NHS is developing long-term plans to dramatically increase out-of-hospital care, including:

  • offering more patients better access to GPs, including evening and weekend appointments, email access and Skype consultations
  • joining up health and social care services to personalise elderly and vulnerable care
    offering more tests and treatments closer to people’s homes, avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital
  • identifying frail older people who need extra support and help