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Halton LINk NEWSLETTER Issue 9 -September 2011

LINk update

Focus on the LINk

As part of the Government’s NHS reforms the Health & Social Care Bill that is currently going through Parliament) LINks will evolve to become ‘Local HealthWatch’ from October 2012. The Department of Health have recommended that LINks should take the opportunity to have an objective look at how well they operate and what success they have had. As part of this process we are carrying out an evaluation of how the Halton LINk has performed so the things that have worked well can be carried forward into the development of Local HealthWatch. This survey will be sent to all members on our mailing list, either electronically or by post with the newsletter.

Just a few snippets of information on the Halton LINk and what we’ve been up to since our last newsletter. We now have over 800 local people and organisations signed up as members. • On 16th May, we held an awareness raising event at the Stobart Stadium, to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, which was attended by over 100 people. A report on the event is available to download from our website at • Our work group looking at the provision of the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) held a workshop on 29th June. A report from the event will be available shortly. • The Halton LINk Annual Report for 2010-11 has now been published. This can be downloaded from www. or a hard copy can be obtained by calling the LINk office on 01928 592405.

The online survey is available on our website at We’d really appreciate it if you could spare the time to complete the survey! As well as the surveys, there will also be two small focus group meetings held, independently facilitated by Halton Borough Council, in early October, (one in Widnes, one in Runcorn). We are looking for around 10-15 people to take part in each focus group meeting. The groups will consider the strengths and weaknesses of the Halton LINk and will have an opportunity to give their thoughts and feelings on the work of the LINk. All the information gathered will be used to help shape the plans for HealthWatch. If you would like take part in one of these focus groups please contact the LINk Support Team on 01928 592405 or email 01928 592405

Party in the Park August 2011

The LINk support team were at the ‘Party in the Park’, in Castlefields, Runcorn, on Friday 5th August. As always it was a very popular event with over 3,000 people attending, and unlike last year, the sun shone!

Halton L I N k Your Health • Your Care • Your Say!

Blue September, the fun cancer awareness campaign, comes to England and Wales for the first time this year. Blue September is a nationwide awareness and fundraising initiative about all the cancers that affect men – not just prostate and testicular cancer, but also bowel, lung, liver and other cancers. The campaign aims to raise funds for more work by the Men’s Health Forum to raise men’s awareness of cancer and help them to reduce the risk of developing and dying from cancer by making better lifestyle choices and seeking help sooner rather than later.

Even a die hard red, Liverpool and England footballer Steven Gerrard has turned blue to show his support for Blue September. He said: ‘Putting the blue paint on our faces was a light hearted way of raising a serious message. We can all do our bit to face up to men’s cancer. If you think something’s not quite right, go to your GP and check it out sooner rather than later.’ For further information on the campaign check out the website at

Involving younger people

A Patient Guide to GP services

According to research by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), LINks are failing to engage children and young people.

A “one stop shop” guide to help patients get the most from their GP practice has been launched by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

The charity surveyed 52 of the 150 Local Involvement Networks (LINks) across the country and found just four actively involved children and young people in decisionmaking. This included having young people as members of a sub-committee or panel.

‘It’s Your Practice: A patient guide to GP services’ is available free of charge and gives patients a diverse range of useful information - from choosing and registering with a surgery and understanding the different services that are available, through to making appointments and getting the most from your consultation. Other sections provide clear guidance on how patients can access their health records; patient rights and responsibilities and how to can get involved in the running of your practice.

Only 10 LINks ran targeted consultations and campaigns aimed at children and young people, and just 15 of those surveyed said they sent them leaflets or information. The research, which also involved in-depth interviews with LINks workers, found the dominance of elderly members can skew work towards issues affecting this age group. It also means the times, locations and agendas of meetings effectively exclude children and young people. LINks are set to become local HealthWatch from October 2012, under plans outlined in the Health and Social Care Bill. The NCB expressed concerns that HealthWatch may repeat LINks’ mistakes and children and young people will continue to be ignored in many areas. Over the next few months we will be looking at ways to involve more younger people in the Halton LINk. If you would you like to get involved, or know somebody that would, give us a call on 01928 592405 or email dwilson@

The differences in GP services across the four nations are highlighted, along with links to other organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers who can also provide support for patients. The guide can be downloaded from the RCGP website at or from the Halton LINk website at

Contact us on 01928 592405 or email us at

‘Talk to us about Mental Health’ questionnaire NHS Halton and St Helens (Primary Care Trust) and its main mental health provider are planning a redesign of adult mental health services across Halton and St Helens. As part of this process, Halton and St Helens VCA (Voluntary & Community Action) have been contracted by the PCT to gather the views of the general public, mental health service users and their carers, on their expectations of adult mental health services and the plans to re-design these services. Halton and St Helens VCA have produced a short survey to find out people’s thoughts about local mental health services. The survey can also be completed online at For paper copies of the survey call Alison Gleave at Halton & St Helens VCA on 01928 592405

Early diagnosis could save 5,000 lives every year Figures issued by Beating Bowel Cancer reveal that bowel cancer death rates vary significantly across the UK, depending on where you live. These latest statistics released by the charity show that there is a three-fold variation in bowel cancer death rates between the best and worst performing areas across the UK. However, even the lowest death rates are deemed too high by the charity as bowel cancer continues to be the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer comments: “Too many people are dying from bowel cancer, no matter where they live. Deaths from bowel cancer could, and should, be much less common. Early diagnosis is key, so today we are calling on people to take responsibility for their bowel cancer risk. People can give themselves a life-saving chance by being aware of bowel cancer symptoms and taking part in bowel cancer screening when it is offered to them. The figures are intriguing. It will be extremely important for local NHS organisations to examine information for their own areas and use it to inform potential changes in delivery of services. It is clear there is more work to be done and it is more important than ever that the measures outlined in the Cancer Reform Strategy are implemented locally.” In order to help people identify their risk Beating Bowel Cancer has launched a bowel cancer map. Visit www. and put in your postcode to find out the latest bowel cancer figures in your area. The map will link to more information about bowel cancer including how to reduce your risk and advice on what to do if you are worried about symptoms, and information about screening.

Bowel cancer. Early detection saves lives. Speak up about your symptoms. Visit your GP now. My bottom is bleeding

There’s blood in my poo

I keep having pain in my stomach

Get checked

Halton LINk / Halton Carers joint information event

Halton LINk and the Halton Carers’ Centre are holding another one of their successful joint events on Monday 3rd October at the Stobart Stadium from 9.30am to 2.30pm. The programme on the day includes information on: • WIlls and Probate • Health & Wellbeing Board

• Carers’ Short Breaks • Disability Living Allowance update

For further information or to book your place please call 01928 592405 and speak to a member of the LINk Support Team.

Struggling to find a NHS Dentist?

Halton LINk contact details The Halton LINk Support Team is:

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.

Lyn Williams - LINk Manager Dave Wilson - Communication & Information Officer. Irene Bramwell - Outreach & Intelligence Officer

The list can be downloaded from our website, www.haltonlink., or a hard copy can be obtained by calling the LINk Support Team on 01928 592405

You can write, phone or email to: Halton LINk, Halton & St Helens VCA,Sefton House, Public Hall Street, Runcorn Cheshire WA7 1NG. Tel: 01928 592405 Email:

Hospitals cut C-diff infection cases by over 40% in a year difficile reported for 2010-2011 - a 43% decrease from the 114 cases reported in 2009-2010. Warrington and Halton Hospitals has made improvements to their infection prevention and control systems and has worked to strengthen the practices adopted by staff whilst caring for patients, specifically in the prescription and monitoring of antibiotics, handwashing and cleanliness. The decrease also follows the recent introduction of new antibiotics which have a lower reported association with the development of Clostridium difficile. Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has seen a decrease in the number of Clostridium difficile cases at the trust by 43% over the past year, according to latest figures. Targets stated that the trust aimed to have no more than 116 cases of the bacterial infection which is often caused by antibiotics interfering with the body’s natural balance of bacteria. These targets were surpassed with only 65 cases of Clostridium

Mel Pickup, Chief Executive of Warrington and Halton Hospitals said: “We were very pleased to see such a significant fall in the cases of Clostridium difficile at the trust, which reflects the seriousness that the trust places against infection prevention and control. Staff have worked very hard to ensure all infection prevention measures are complied with and their efforts are illustrated by the positive decrease in cases of the infection at the trust.”

Have your say! There are currently a number of national and local consultations taking place which you can access through the Halton LINk website -, or through the Department of Health website We’ve listed information on a couple of the current consultations below:

Consultation on draft suicide prevention strategy The Government has published a draft suicide prevention strategy for England. Consultation responses will inform the final strategy, in early 2012. For further information and to take part in the consultation go to This consultation closes on 11 October 2011

Consultation on Allocation Options for distribution of additional funding to local authorities for: Local HealthWatch, NHS Complaints Advocacy, PCT Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards A very long title for a consultation, this one concerns the allocation of extra monies for HealthWatch for some of the new roles it may have to take on. his consultation is asking for your views on options for distributing the new funding for Local HealthWatch, NHS Complaints Advocacy and PCT Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS). The consultation can be accessed at This consultation closes on 24 October 2011

Good listeners wanted Halton Integrated Bereavement Services (HiBs) is looking for Volunteer Listeners to join its specialist team. Volunteer Listeners will learn about the stages of grief and will also learn to develop their own self-awareness and understanding of bereavement. The loss of someone close can leave feelings of sadness and emptiness. Being a Listener for the bereaved can be draining, but very rewarding. Successful candidates will receive ongoing supervision and support. If you are interested in becoming one of our Volunteer Listeners, please contact Jan Gray or Dawn Marshall for an informal chat,on 01928 791221 (24hr answering service) or or

Transfer of Southern Cross Healthcare to new operators Southern Cross Healthcare, the largest independent care home operator in the country (with over 750 care and nursing homes and some 31,000 residents, most of who are older people), has been engaged in restructuring since early 2011. A restructuring committee, made up of representatives of the company, its landlords and lenders, has been appointed to oversee the process. On 11th July a decision was made to transfer all the company’s homes to new operators. Southern Cross will continue in operation until the transfer process is complete, anticipated to be by the end of October 2011. The company will then be closed. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) is maintaining an updated guide to the transfer of Southern Cross homes to new operators. A link to the guide can be found on the ADASS website (

Hospital extends shuttle bus service The timetable for the free, hospital shuttle bus between Warrington and Halton hospitals has changed from the 1st August with an earlier start and later finish. The popular service is provided by Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and helps over 500 people a week get to their appointments free of charge. The times provide more options for visitors travelling between the sites. They have also been changed to reflect new nursing shift times at the hospitals that have slightly different start and finish times than before. The bus is used by staff travelling between the hospitals as well as patients and visitors. People visiting relatives in hospital can also use the bus which has full wheelchair and disabled access.

The shuttle bus runs from outside the main entrance on Hospital Way at Halton General Hospital and drops off at the main entrance to Warrington Hospital before making its return journey. The journey takes around 25 minutes. Please be aware that the bus can be busy - particularly at key visiting times. The new times are: Departs Halton Hospital to Warrington - 6.30, 8.10, 9.30, 11.15, 12.55, 14.05, 15.30, 16.35, 17.30, 19.15 and 20.25. Departs Warrington Hospital to Halton - 7.40, 8.40, 10.30, 12.00, 13.30, 14.40, 16.10, 17.05, 18.00, 19.50 and 21.40.

Breathe Easy Halton People with lung conditions and those who care for them can often feel alone. Making friends is important for people living with lung disease and Breathe Easy provides a good opportunity for that to happen. The network includes groups that meet in many different towns and cities in the UK. Through events like the annual Breathe Easy Week, Breathe Easy also works hard to raise awareness of lung disease and the problems it can cause. Breathe Easy self help support groups are for information, support, friendship, enjoying social events, days out and activities. Breathe Easy Halton meet at The Palacefields Community Cente, The Uplands, Palacefields, Runcorn on the 1st Tuesday of each month. Upcoming activities include: Tuesday 4th October - Nosh and Natter Tuesday 1st November - Planning Meeting

For further details please contact British Lung Foundation Northwest Office on 0151 224 7778

Tuesday 6th December - Celebration of the year

Lung cancer. Early detection saves lives. Speak up about your symptoms. Visit your GP now. I can’t get rid of this cough

I’m always out of breath

I’ve been coughing up blood

Get checked

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 9 - Halton LINk Newsletter  

September 2011 issue of the 'Hal'