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Halton LINk NEWSLETTER Issue 6 -November 2010

October ‘Fact or Fiction’ Event

Over 35 people attended the latest in our series of ‘Fact or Fiction’ events held on Monday 11th October at the Stobart Stadium, Widnes

‘Above & Beyond’ Awards

The event was held to mark World Mental Health Day, on Sunday 10th October, and gave a great opportunity for local people to find out a more information on some of the mental health services provided locally. Guest speakers on the day were: • Jacqui Allen, Patient Experience Co-ordinator , Open Mind Project • Frank Beesley, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, 5 Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust • Elaine Parry, Counselling Co-ordinator, Jigsaw Counselling at MIND Halton • Irene Bramwell, Halton LINk Outreach & Intelligence Officer Halton LINk Board Member, Beth Edwards, who did a fine job chairing the event, firstly introduced Jacqui Allen who gave a presentation on Open Mind (a project aimed at giving people a single point of access to mental health services). Elaine Parry then gave an update on the services offered by Jigsaw Counselling Services based at MIND Halton. Frank Beesley, who stood in at the last minute for the original speaker who was taken ill, gave an insight into the Personality Disorder Hub Service provided by the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Finally, Irene Bramwell, our LINk Outreach Officer gave members an update on how the LINk Task & Finish Group were addressing on of the LINk priority areas: Depression. A feedback report from the event will be produced and will be available from the LINk Support Team on 01928 592405, it will also be available for download from the Halton LINk website, 01928 592405

Halton LINk Board Member, Beth Edwards, was presented with ‘The Peoples Champion Award’ at the recent NHS Halton & St. Helens Primary Care Trust AGM. Beth was chosen for the award as someone who represents the voice of their local community in relation to health services and the needs of their local population. The picture above shows Beth being presented with the award by Jim Wilson, Chair of NHS Halton & St. Helens PCT.

NHS Launches Choice and Information Revolution

Whistleblowing in the NHS

Patients will have more choice and a louder voice under new proposals set out by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

A new consultation has been launched to look at Whistle-blowing in the NHS. It looks at making changes to the NHS constitution and its handbook to make it easier for staff to be whistle-blowers when they have concerns about safety or wrong doing. The amendments are designed to tighten the system so NHS trusts can’t suppress staff - and so staff will have a constitutional obligation to blow the whistle. There are three key changes proposed: • highlighting existing legal rights of all staff to raise concerns about safety, malpractice or other wrongdoing without fear of dismissal or other ramifications • introducing an NHS pledge that employers will support all staff in raising such concerns, responding to and where necessary investigating concerns raised • creating an expectation that NHS staff will raise concerns about safety, malpractice or wrongdoing at work which may affect patients, the public, other staff or the organisation itself as early as possible. You can take part in this consultation by going to and clicking on the Consultations tab, or via www. Consultation closes on 20 January 2011

The White Paper, ‘Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS’, set out the Government’s ambition to give people more control over their own care, from choice of GP to which consultant-led team they are treated by. Two new consultations – on Patient Choice and on Information – set out proposals to meet that ambition. Proposals to increase the choices that patients and service users have about their care include: • allow patients to choose services from any willing provider; • choice of provider for diagnosis; • choice of which team, led by a named consultant, that they want to be seen by and what that treatment is after diagnosis; • extending maternity choice to include pre-conception, antenatal, and postnatal care; • choice of treatment and provider in mental health services; • improving the choice of end of life care, moving towards a national choice offer in the future to support those who wish to die at home. The Government also set out how the NHS will lead an information revolution, arming people with comprehensive information and data on all aspects of their health and adult social care so they can take control and make informed decisions. The consultation Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution makes clear how people should be given more control over their care records, and how the quality of care provided will improve as a consequence of releasing more data, such as on mixed-sex wards and infection rates. Both consultations can be accessed by going to and clicking on the Consultations tab, or via These consultations close on 14 January 2011

Halton LINk - The future One of the proposals in the recent Government White Paper ‘Liberating the NHS’ was the transformation of LINks into a new body called ‘HealthWatch’ from April 2012. The proposals recommend that the new HealthWatch body will expand on the existing role of LINk. At the moment, LINks – like Halton LINk – do these things: • Help more people to have a voice in their local health and social care • Give people’s views on any changes that might be made to local health and social care services • Go and look at how health or social care services are doing if they think it is needed (this is called “Enter and View”)

• Make recommendations to commissioners

that choices make by local doctors

In the future, the Government wants local HealthWatch to keeping doing all these things but it also wants them to: • Help people – especially people who find it difficult - to choose what kind of health and social care services are right for them • Help people to make complaints about health and social care services • Give information to HealthWatch England if there is a problem with local health and social care services, so that it can be checked • Sit on the local Council Health and Wellbeing board, which will make sure

are the best ones. These boards will

(GPs) about local health and social care also be in charge of making sure public health gets better in the local area. Currently the funding for most LINks is due to end in March 2011. Due to an initial late start the Halton LINk has funding in place to continue until the end of October 2011. Under the proposals in the white paper Local HealthWatch will be funded by and be accountable to local authorities. We will do our best over the coming months to keep members updated on what these proposals will mean as more information becomes available.

Remember to get your annual flu jab The Department of Health is encouraging people at risk of seasonal flu to protect themselves by getting their free annual flu jabs. Also, this year, for the first time, all pregnant women will be offered the seasonal flu vaccination. This is because it protects against the H1N1 virus (swine flu) that will still be circulating this winter, and pregnant women who catch this strain are at an increased risk of severe disease and flu-related hospital admissions. Everyone aged 65 and over is routinely offered the jab, as are younger people with long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, serious kidney and liver disease. Around 15 million people in the UK have the jab, which must be administered every year as it is altered to match the flu strains in circulation. Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health said: “This year, the swine flu virus will be one of the most common types of flu going around, and it is important to remind people to remember to get their annual flu jab. The vaccine will protect against three types of flu, including the type known as “swine flu”. “As we know that this virus can pose additional risks to pregnant women, we are recommending this year, that all pregnant women are vaccinated.

Experts from the renowned Burney Breast Unit at St Helens Hospital are urging local women to attend routine breast screening, as it could save their lives.

“If you are in any of the identified at risk groups, my advice, especially at this time of the year is to visit your local GP surgery and get the vaccination as soon as possible. This is the best form of protection for you and others.” Seasonal flu, also known as influenza, is a highly infectious illness caused by a virus. The types of virus in circulation change every year as does the vaccine, so, it is important that those at risk ensure they receive the jab annually to protect themselves. Every year there are approximately 8,000 flu-related deaths in the winter months in England and Wales - these deaths are avoidable. The best way to avoid flu is to get immunised, but in addition, people can protect themselves and those around them by practising good hand hygiene with the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ technique. This means carrying tissues, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and cleaning hands as soon as possible with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel.

A new system of regulation A new system of regulation has been put in place for adult social care and independent health care providers. People who use NHS, adult social care or independent health care services can now expect all registered providers to meet the same set of essential standards of quality and safety. The CQC will monitor providers to ensure that they meet the new standards. Where services are failing people, the CQC will be

Local women urged to attend routine breast checks

able to use their enforcement powers that allow them to take swift, targeted action. More information on the essential standards of quality and safety is available from the CQC website, or by contacting the LINk support team on 01928 592405.

Routine breast screening is the best way of detecting cancer early so that treatment can be at its most effective. Yet many women in the local area are putting their health at risk by not taking up invitations for routine breast screening. These invitations are sent by local breast care services to women aged between 50 and 70, living in St Helens, Knowsley and Halton, every three years. Dr Rani Thind, Consultant Radiologist and Lead for Breast Screening at the unit is one of the dedicated team who cares for patients during their screening. She says: “Routine breast screening really does save lives. It is highly effective in detecting a cancer early, often when it is quite small and it can mean that treatment to remove the cancer is less severe and is more successful in beating the cancer.’ ‘Screening for breast cancer is done by performing a mammogram which is an x-ray of the breasts. It is a simple process, which takes 10 minutes. These x-rays are examined by our team of experts and results sent to the patients, within just two weeks.’ ‘Women who receive an invitation to attend a routine screening should not pass up the opportunity. It could save your life.”

‘Liberating the NHS’

Sad News

Halton LINk has been helping people in Halton and the surrounding areas to give their views on the recent NHS White Paper ‘Liberating the NHS’ which put forward far-reaching changes to the NHS.

Everyone involved with the Halton LINk was sad to hear of the untimely death of one of our LINk Board Members, Dennis O’Reilly.

We held 2 main consultation events, one each in Widnes and Runcorn, and also a separate consultation with a local GP Patient Participation Group. The White Paper proposes changes to the NHS including: • GPs having control for buying/commissioning services • The end of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) from 2012 • More choice in treatment and care for patients • LINks becoming local ‘HealthWatch’ with a greater role to include issues such as advocacy People who attended the events were given an overview of these changes and asked to give their views on a number of questions. These are just a few of the comments put forward: • There needs to be total independence and transparency of HealthWatch • White Paper appears to be solely about health care, what about social care • We welcome more communication and partnership working between agencies • Budget for Healthwatch needs to be ring-fenced to ensure continuity of service • The new commissioning role for GPs would need more training and support • There needs to be a direct link between GP Consortia and local HealthWatch and close links between all structures in the new NHS. Halton LINk has now sent the views collected from these consultation events to the Department of Health.

Dennis had been involved with the Halton LINk from the very start as part of the Transitional Board, and then as an elected board member of the Halton LINk. Dennis was always an active, committed and enthusiastic board member, offering up his time and efforts for the benefit of the people of Halton. He was also heavily involved with working with both Warrington & Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Halton & St. Helens. His valuable contribution to improving the health and welfare of the local community was recently acknowledged when he was named as ‘Volunteer of the Year’ at the recent ‘Above & Beyond’ Awards at NHS Halton & St. Helens AGM. Dennis will be greatly missed by all of those who have had the huge pleasure of working with him over the last few years.

Dental Access List Are you trying to find a local NHS Dentist? Each month we publish, on our website, a list of local dentists, giving details of those who are taking on new patients and how long the waiting time is for the next NHS routine appointment. Go to for further information

If you would like a member of the Halton LINk support team to come along to one of your meetings or events and let you know all about the Halton LINk please get in touch, our contact details are listed below. Alternatively if you would like to pop into the LINk office and have a chat just let us know. If you need this newsletter in a different format, e.g. CD or you would like a larger print version then please contact us.

Halton LINk, Halton & St. Helens VCA, Sefton House, Public Hall Street, Runcorn WA7 1NG Tel: 01928 592405 email: web: Halton LINk is hosted by Halton & St Helens Voluntary Community Action Registered Charity No. 1106001 and a Company Limited by Guarantee No. 2539153.

Issue 6 - Halton LINk Newsletter  
Issue 6 - Halton LINk Newsletter  

November 2010 Issue of the Halton LINk newsletter