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Autumn 2011

Your Guide to Local Health Services

Check out David's new diet page 8

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Win ÂŁ100 and ÂŁ25 shopping vouchers page 13

Flu nearly killed me and my baby

Getting my breath back

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Need some space for yourself? If you can tick any of these boxes we may be able to help

o o o o o

When I think about things I get panicky

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I often struggle to get to sleep or to stay asleep

I cry over silly things or for no reason at all I can’t seem to do anything Nothing makes me happy anymore Although I have people around me, I feel as if I’m on my own I’m sleeping too much Going into work or seeing people often feels like too much

Therapy can offer coping strategies and new ways of looking at things. Contact Medway Psychological Therapies to discuss how we may be able to work with you, and to explore what other support is available locally. Call 01634 406087 or email Information sponsored by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, 01732 520400; Patient Advice and Liaison Service 0800 587 6757 and by KCA, 01795 590635,


Contacts Editor-in-chief Natalie Yost


Welcome Welcome to this, the third issue of Health Matters, containing the 2011/12 guide to local health services for Medway residents.

Editors Emma Burns Laura Patrick

The NHS has made huge strides in recent years in early detection of illness, often before people have any symptoms.

For the latest news, stories and information, visit

We can be proud that in Medway every patient aged 40 to 74 is offered an individual NHS Health Check every five years. Many are changing their lifestyle as a result. David Gruber has swapped fry-ups for fruit; while nutritionist Emma Parker has tips on cutting the cholesterol in your diet.

We have an e-newsletter for anyone interested in health and healthcare in Medway. Sign up at NHS Medway Fifty Pembroke Court Chatham Maritime Chatham Kent, ME4 4EL Tel: 01634 335020 Follow us @nhsmedway at While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents, the publisher cannot accept any responsibility for errors or omissions. If you have an idea, story or query, want to know about alternative formats or would like to order a copy in large print, contact: or phone 01634 335210 Design by Vortex Creative Ltd Photography by Praxis design NHS Kent and Medway represents the three primary care trusts; NHS Medway, NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent and NHS West Kent.

The powerful and poignant story of how Enda Bashford and her son Connor nearly lost their lives to flu shows how very important flu jabs are for pregnant women – and everyone else who needs them. One in four of us will have a mental health problem at some point in our lives. Rachel Rudland is using her experience to help others in a truly inspirational way. As well as individual stories, there is plenty of advice and information in here. We hope it will help you make best use of the local NHS and find the service you need. Keep it near the phone so you can find the numbers if you need them. Please let us know your comments or suggestions for improvement – with this guide or local NHS services – by emailing or phoning 01634 335210. Dr Peter Green, Medical Director and Chairman of Medway Commissioning Group.

Competition winners

The competition prizes in the spring issue of Health Matters – pairs of tickets for the men’s and women’s finals of the Modern Pentathlon European Championships in Medway Park, Gillingham - were won by David Blackett, 31, from Rainham, and William Macpherson, 66, from Gillingham. Win £100 and £25 shopping vouchers with our new competition - page 13

Watch your step

Look after your vision to reduce your risk of falling Page 10

Time to talk bums, bottoms, derrieres – whatever you call yours! Bowel cancer survivor Peter Harris says do as he says, not as he did Page 14


Flu survivors Enda Bashford and her son Connor.

Flu nearly killed me and my baby.

Don't let it happen to you. Enda Bashford has no memories of the birth or first two weeks of life of Connor, her third child. She was so ill with complications of flu in January this year that he was born three months prematurely by an emergency Caesarean to save her life. Then she was put into a medically induced coma on a ventilator. “I thought it would last for two days – in fact, it was two weeks,” Enda says. “When I came round, at first I forgot I’d been pregnant. Then I thought my baby had died. The nurses had put photos of him up round my bed.”


When she realised that Connor, born weighing 1.25kg (2lb 8oz) at 27 weeks, was in the Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit at Medway Maritime Hospital, she asked her husband Rob to wheel her up to see him. “It was very upsetting - I didn’t know a baby could be that tiny,” she says. “The second visit was better and the third, when I could hold him.” She left hospital a week later and, after treatment at Medway, King’s Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital, London, Connor came home to the family’s flat in Rochester, three months later, to the delight of Enda,

Dad Rob Bashford and sons Kieran and Dylan

Even after Enda got home, she was a long way from recovered and, in February, Rob had to leave his job as an industrial shot-blaster and painter because Enda and the children needed him. Now, the couple are passionate about ensuring that pregnant women have the flu jab. “I saw on the news that pregnant women should be vaccinated and I definitely meant to go – I took Dylan and Kieran for their swine flu vaccine the year before – but I fell ill before I got round to making the appointment,” says Enda. “You don’t think it will ever happen to you but it did.” Rob feels so strongly that when Enda’s sister, also pregnant, was dragging her heels about her flu jab because of a fear of needles, he booked an appointment for her. “I want 100 per cent of pregnant women in Medway and other people who should get the flu vaccine to have it,” he says. “If someone in your family – your daughter or sister - isn’t having the vaccine, make sure they do.

27, Rob, 25, and their older boys, Dylan, four and Kieran, two. But neither Enda, nor Connor, has fully recovered and Connor has medical complications which will stay with him for the rest of his life. “It’s terrifying, really,” says Enda. “You can hardly believe flu could do this. People don’t know – I certainly had no idea.” It all started in mid-January, when Enda developed severe sickness, followed by bad pain in her chest and back. “I suffered really badly with vomiting when I was pregnant with Dylan and Kieran and I thought it was that,” she says. “I didn’t have a cold and only a tiny cough. After about a week, Rob and my mum made me go to hospital. They found I had pneumonia, caused by swine flu.” Her memories of the next weeks are of hallucinations while she was unconscious but for Rob, everything is vivid. “I thought I was going to lose them both,” he says. “The care was brilliant but the doctors said it was touch and go. It was horrific.” He shuttled between the flat, where the boys asked every day for their mummy, Enda’s bedside and the neonatal unit where Connor lay.

“What we’ve been through affects the whole family. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.” The flu vaccination this winter protects against three strains of flu, including swine flu.Those eligible for the flu jab include: • everyone over 65 • all pregnant women • everyone over six-months-old with serious long-term health problems: chronic respiratory, heart, kidney, liver or neurological disease, diabetes or a weakened immune system due to disease or treatment • people in care homes • people who are the main carer for an older or disabled person Dr Alison Barnett, Director of Public Health for Medway, says: “Patients will receive letters prompting them to make an appointment for flu vaccination at their GP practice in the next few weeks. If you do not get a letter but fall into one of the categories above, phone your practice and ask if you should have the jab. “The best way to stop flu spreading is by using a tissue to catch coughs and colds, throwing it away and washing your hands – remember: Catch It, Bin It, Kill It.”


Make lifestyle changes Anthony Mullins was living on a diet of ready meals, packet food and fizzy drinks. The 30-year-old wasn’t registered with a doctor, which meant that the gout in both his feet wasn’t being treated and caused him pain when walking. “I was really unhappy with my weight and how I looked,” he said. “I wanted to exercise, but the gout restricted what I could do. My confidence and self-esteem were low. I needed help, but I didn’t know where to begin or where to go.” Anthony finally got the help he wanted when he met Medway’s


Health and Lifestyle (HALT) Team at a promotional event. HALT works on the front line to help Medway residents tackle their health issues and take control of their lives. The team can advise and help with anything from sleepless nights to healthy eating and from alcohol and drugs to exercise. A qualified health trainer from the team helped Anthony draw up a personal health plan, which built in a weight loss plan, including accompanied trips to the shops to show healthy and affordable food alternatives, finding details of boxing clubs to help him get active and to get help finding a job. Anthony was also encouraged to register with a GP and get medical treatment for his gout. Now, with help from a range of services in Medway, he’s made changes to his diet, has lost weight and nearly 10 inches off his waist, is being treated for his gout and has found a job. He also works out twice a week at a local boxing club.

“Talking to the team really helped,” he said. “It pointed me in the right direction and helped me make changes to my lifestyle. I feel so much better. I am working hard and looking forward to being fit enough to spar at the boxing club in early 2012.” More than 500 people have been helped by the team to take control of their life since it was set up in January 2010. The Health and Lifestyle Team is employed by Sunlight Development Trust on behalf of NHS Kent and Medway. Medway’s Health and Lifestyle Team is there for YOU. For free one-to-one support to help you identify changes you want to make and find the services you need, email or phone 01634 338600. This information is sponsored by the Sunlight Development Trust and Medway’s Health and Lifestyle Team.

Getting my breath back For the first time in years, Lyn Tompson can walk to the shops without having to stop and catch her breath. But it hasn’t always been like that. At first she put her breathing difficulties down to her asthma and the tobacco she’d smoked for the past 48 years. At one point it got so bad that she would be bent over double trying to breathe. “I was so frightened,” the 65-year-old former care worker from Allhallows remembers. “Some days I couldn’t walk more than 50 yards without trying to catch my breath. I couldn’t breathe and would be gasping for air. I thought I was going to die.” Then she found out she had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the name for lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic asthma. People with COPD have difficulty breathing due to airway inflammation and obstruction, which is most commonly caused by smoking. Although there is no cure, making simple changes to your lifestyle – such as stopping smoking – makes a difference. Lyn quit smoking with help from Medway’s Stop Smoking Service. “The wake-up call was being told that I’d end up in a wheelchair or using oxygen if I didn’t stop smoking. The stop smoking group in Hoo helped me quit, which really helped with my overall care and health. I feel so much better and my breathing has also improved.” She has learned how to manage her symptoms with help from Medway Community Healthcare’s Respiratory Team, which offers support, treatment and rehabilitation for patients with COPD to help them maintain their quality of life. “I was booked on to a seven-week course run by the respiratory team,” says Lyn. “My physiotherapist, Jamie Crosswell, was brilliant and he taught me breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. You’re taught how to sit down properly, use gym equipment, like the exercise bike and step machine, how to walk properly and balancing techniques, which help you breathe. “COPD affects everything I do, but I try not to let it. I have learned to take really deep breaths and I try not to panic when breathing; the respiratory team’s work was invaluable to me.”

More than 4,600 people in Medway have been diagnosed with COPD. Quitting smoking is the single most effective way to avoid this distressing condition. Contact Medway’s Stop Smoking Team on 01634 823563 or visit Your GP will refer you to Medway Community Healthcare’s Community Respiratory Team if you have been diagnosed with COPD and need further specialist support, including rehabilitation courses to an oxygen assessment service. The team includes specialist physiotherapists, nurses and dietitians. Breathe Easy is the support network of the British Lung Foundation providing information, support and friendship to people living with a lung condition, their family, friends and carers. Breathe Easy Medway meets from 1 to 3pm on the first Tuesday on the month at the Star Meadow Sports Club, Darland Avenue, Gillingham. Phone 01634 221258 or 234561.


Fewer fry-ups - feeling fine Like many men, David Gruber doesn’t often go to the doctor. There’s just no need; he’s almost never ill.

Healthcare Assistant Angela Mudge, who carried out the check, advised David on his food intake.

He’s also very busy. Long days working on a building site, twice-daily gym sessions, occasional runs with his wife, Sarah, 37 – he keeps himself fit and strong.

Now he has fruit for breakfast, lots of chicken, rice and vegetables for dinner, and red meat only occasionally. He feels less bloated and has lost weight.

And as a lifelong non-smoker and moderate drinker, he had every reason for thinking he was in tiptop condition when he was invited for a free NHS Health Check.

“My advice to anyone else putting off their NHS Health Check is to get on with it,” he says.

That was why it was a shock when he eventually got round to having the check at his GP practice, Thames Avenue surgery in Rainham. It found he had a high level of cholesterol in his blood, putting him at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. David has now made some simple changes to his life to avoid developing a serious condition. “I was really taken by surprise to find my arteries were in danger of furring up,” says David, 51, from Rainham Mark. “I knew my diet wasn’t perfect - I ate a lot of red meat and had eggs, sausages and bacon for breakfast every day. “But I didn’t think it would be doing me any harm. It’s funny – we all know the advice, but until you find out that eating the wrong things is affecting you and your health, it’s easy to ignore it.”


“I am so glad I went – by making changes now, I have got a good chance of preventing serious illness later.” More than 6,400 NHS Health Checks were carried out in Medway last year to assess people’s personal risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and kidney disease. Most were given advice, like David, about making changes to their lifestyle. In addition, 470 people were found to need medication and 295 started other treatment. The aim is for everyone aged between 40 and 74 in Medway to be offered a free NHS Health Check every five years, unless they have one of the conditions it checks for, as they are already being monitored. People are invited in turn by their GP practice, look out for your invitation. For more information, visit

Doing a David If you want to cut down on red meat in your diet, like David Gruber, how should you go about it? Nutritionist Emma Parker, who works for Medway’s Public Health Team, says: “Red meat is a good source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 which is important in our diet. But processed red meat tend to be high in fat, especially saturated fat. “Eating a diet high in saturated fats can raise the level of cholesterol in our blood, increasing the risk of heart disease and cancers.“ Her top tips for cutting down are: • Cut the fat off your meat and grill it – this can reduce the saturated fat content by two thirds (for a pork chop), or half (for a steak or bacon rasher). • Choose the leanest meat you can afford – such as lean beef mince or cuts with less visible white fat. • Vary your diet with turkey, chicken, fish or other sources of protein, such as beans and pulses – this is good for your budget too.

• Check the labels of processed foods and opt for the ones with less saturated fat, if possible. • Bulk out meals with vegetables, rice and pasta, and reduce the amount of meat on the plate. • Don’t forget about meat in pastry, such as sausage rolls or pasties. Try to limit these too.

The Department of Health advises people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day (about three slices of beef or pork) to try to cut down to 70g. Simple changes are all that is needed to reduce your cholesterol. A cooked breakfast with two standard British sausages and two rashers of bacon has 130g, so keep it to a once a week treat. See below for an alternative to keep enjoying your cooked breakfasts.

Recipe to try Bacon and egg muffin

2 lean bacon discs (or 2 rashers with the fat removed) 1 wholemeal muffin 1 large fresh egg • Cut the muffin in half and toast. • Grill the bacon until cooked. • Meanwhile, heat one inch of water in a frying pan. When it boils, break the egg into the water and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on whether you want a soft or firm poached egg. • Add bacon and egg to the muffin. Enjoy!


ep: Watch your st prevent falls

why good vision can help Around a third of people over 65 living at home and half of people over 85 fall every year, with consequences that can be very serious.

as wearing the wrong glasses. Or it may be an eye problem, such as cataracts, which are more likely to affect people as they get older.

Yet falls are not an inevitable part of ageing. There are simple things people can do to reduce their risk of falling.

Things to watch out for include:

These are: • keep active • eat healthily and drink even if you don’t feel thirsty – aim for six to eight cups of tea or coffee, or glasses of juice or water, a day • check your home for places where you could trip, such as loose rugs • wear footwear that fits properly – your shoe size can change as you age • ask your pharmacist to review your medication • have your eyesight checked at least every two years

Poor vision was highlighted by Age UK in its Falls Awareness Week earlier this year as one of the main reasons people fall. It may be something as simple Eric Baker, 83, from Rainham, says he had “exemplary care” when his cataract was removed.

• • • •

sudden worsening of sight spots, cloudiness or fuzziness colours looking faded or washed out more glare or difficulty driving at night

Cataracts are caused by changes in the structure in the lens of the eye. They cause cloudy, impaired vision and if left untreated, can eventually lead to blindness. Patricia Baker, Clinical Services Manager of Will Adams NHS Treatment Centre in Gillingham, says: “Many people are worried about eye surgery, but treatment for cataracts is quick and simple. “Your optician or GP will refer you for surgery at a hospital or a treatment centre like ours. “At your first appointment, you’ll be seen by a consultant, a nurse and a biometrist, who will test your eyes, and if they find a cataract, you will be given a date for surgery, which will almost always be done in one day. “On the day of surgery, nurses will help you get ready, before the consultant sees you in theatre where your surgery takes place under local anaesthetic. The operation involves making a very small incision in the cornea and, using ultrasound, removing the cataract and implanting an acrylic lens for distance vision. It is usually all over in about seven -10 minutes and you then wait 30 minutes, relaxing with a cup of tea and biscuits, to check all is well before you go home. “The day after surgery, you’ll get a call from one of our specially trained nurses to check that you’re recovering without any problems. Most people say they can’t believe how easy it is.” See page 21 for more information about services to prevent falls. Information sponsored by The Will Adams NHS Treatment Centre, which is run by Care UK. It offers services in orthopaedics, endoscopy, colonoscopy, urology, cataract surgery, general surgery and gastroenterology. For more information go to or phone 0333 200 1730.


With breast cancer you won't always find a lump. I didn't. Joni Gallagher always kept her medical appointments and thought her first mammogram (x-ray of the breast) would be something else to tick off the list. “There’s no history of cancer in my family and I had always kept myself fit and healthy and checked for lumps,” the 52-year-old from Gillingham says. The NHS Breast Screening programme screens around 1.6 million women a year. All women aged 50 to 70 and are registered with a GP are automatically invited for a screening every three years. Even when Joni was called back for a second visit, the upbeat, self-employed business manager didn’t think she had anything to worry about. “I had no question in my mind that there was anything wrong; I just thought they wanted to get some more photos. I’d been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for a couple of years, my periods had stopped and I’d got out of the habit of checking myself, but I honestly thought everything would be okay. “I only realised it could be cancer when I was told I would need a biopsy.” Within three weeks of her cancer being diagnosed, Joni underwent a two-hour operation to remove the tumour from her left breast and six lymph nodes from her armpit. “I lost a third of my breast, but it could have been

so much more if I hadn’t had my mammogram. It was a lifesaver.” Joni’s chemotherapy began six weeks after her operation. “I cannot believe how fast it all happened. I have never been this sick before, but I’m a very strong person in myself and that’s how I’ve dealt with my cancer. “I used to have shoulder length auburn hair, which I really loved. It was awful when it started to fall out, but I’ve now got a really funky wig and lots of colourful scarves.” Joni is encouraging all women who are invited to have a mammogram to make sure they go along. Screening saves around 1,400 lives a year. “People think it’s embarrassing or uncomfortable, but it’s neither and only takes seconds and it could save your life,” she says. “My doctor and Macmillan nurse have been there for me since day one - they’ve been invaluable, have answered all my questions whenever I needed to speak to them. I also have some amazing friends and family who have helped and supported me throughout my treatment. “I’m the last person my friends would have thought would get cancer. Had I not had the mammogram my cancer would have been undetected and that thought doesn’t bear thinking about. So take a few moments out of your busy life and get yourself checked.” See page 20 for information on local support for cancer.


Living in

recovery Rachel Rudland is calm, centred and confident and her life is looking up. She has completed IT training, is the proud mother of two grown-up children and works as a volunteer supporting people with mental health problems. Through a Buddy Scheme, she is also helping doctors, nurses and midwives of the future understand what life can feel like when you have mental health difficulties. She has done it all despite lifelong mental health problems of her own, including a non-stop flow of negative thoughts which, over many years, she has learned to manage and counteract.

“I was determined my children weren’t going into care,” she says. “But at the same time, I was selfharming. They provided treatment during the day so I could carry on at home.”

“The turning point for me was four years ago. For years, I’d been longing for a tablet I could take that would stop the turmoil in my head and take it away,” she says.

The kindness and surrogate mothering offered to her by a neighbour – Rachel is not in touch with her own parents – was another really important element of her recovery.

“Realising that would never happen – what was going on in my head was part of me – changed my thought patterns.”

“She nurtured me – before I met her, I wouldn’t look at people or speak to people, but she helped me stop shutting myself off,” she says.

Single mum Rachel, 43, from Gillingham, grew up hearing voices but found them comforting.

“I learned to stop setting huge goals. I broke my time down into five minute chunks – it was something I learned from the therapist. If I couldn’t get out of bed, I would sit up for five minutes. Then move to the edge of the bed. It might take all day for me to get up and get washed and get dressed, but I’d do it.”

She dates her breakdown to the aftermath of surgery when her children Trudi and Barney, now 23 and 22, were aged six and five. “I woke up and I was a totally different person,” she says. “I couldn’t sleep, I paced, I cleaned obsessively and then I ended up in bed for two weeks when I couldn’t come out of my room.” It was her children’s school who put her in touch with specialist mental health services provided by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.

Support services

Now Rachel wants to offer hope to others. “I would never have thought I would be in the position I am today, helping other people, able to talk on the phone and use a computer, and with my two amazing children living at home,” she says. “I have bad moments and I still have to talk myself into doing things, but even if I could, I wouldn’t wish my past away because I am so happy with where I am now.”

Rachel makes use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques. She did her IT training at the Winfield Trust, which accepts referrals from GPs and other professionals working with people who have mental health problems. She volunteers with Medway and Swale Advocacy Partnerships, which speak up for individuals with mental health problems:, 01634 713739. See page 22 for more information on mental health and wellbeing services in Medway.


Health Matters competition

Looking after your health and wellbeing doesn’t have to be boring or difficult; it can be something as simple as taking a walk or cooking a meal with vegetables, to pampering yourself in the bathroom after a hard day’s work. Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre has more than 50 popular retailers under one roof to make it even easier for you to look after yourself. Lovers of quality healthy food are spoilt for choice at the centre, with stores including the largest M&S in Medway, including a food hall, and the largest Sainsbury’s in Kent.  Beauty products and treatments, music, games, toys, gifts and home accessories can all be found at Hempstead Valley, with all stores easily accessible from the ground floor. A farmers’ market is held outside in the green car park on the second Sunday of the month from 10am to 2pm, selling a variety of local produce, including seasonal fruit and vegetables. There are also weekly fitness, exercise and Zumba classes held in the centre’s community hall on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Classes cost from £4 per session. Monday - Aerobics start at 7.30pm and Step aerobics at 8.30pm. Phone Linda Eatwell on 07710 022323 for more details. Tuesday - Exercise class starts at 8pm. Phone Jill on 07798 921931 for more details. Wednesday – Zumba. Two sessions at 7 and 8pm. Phone Hannah on 07759 096545 for more details. Parking is FREE* for customers who shop at the centre, which includes extra wide disabled parking bays marked in blue for blue badge holders only - located close to all the entrances. Wider parent and baby bays are marked in red. There are also dedicated bicycle and motorbike bays. There are ample toilets and baby changing rooms, including two separate baby changing areas, with one containing a private area where mums can breastfeed in a comfortable chair. *Maximum stay six hours for customers while they are shopping at the centre or using the centre’s facilities. Visit or for more details. Visit for advice and tips on how to improve your health and wellbeing.

To help kick off your healthy lifestyle, Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre has generously donated £100 of vouchers for one lucky Health Matters reader to spend in-store. Sainsbury’s has also donated a £25 gift card to another reader.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following questions: Which exercise session is held at Hempstead Valley’s community hall on Wednesday evenings? Have you found the content in this magazine useful? Yes No Would you read this magazine again? Yes No Which part did you find most useful?

What would you do to improve this magazine?

Please cut out this coupon and send your answers with your name, age, address and daytime telephone number to Health Matters, NHS Medway, Fifty Pembroke Court, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4EL. The first person to be drawn from the entries will win the £100 vouchers, while the second person will win the £25 Sainsbury’s gift card. Answers will be picked at random and must arrive by noon on Friday, 4 November. Entries that arrive after the closing date will not be entered into the competition. You must be 18 or over to enter this competition. Competitions are not open to employees (or members of their immediate families) of NHS Medway.By entering the competition the winner agrees to participate in such promotional activity and material as NHS Medway may require. We will only process your data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. NHS Medway will analyse the information you provide to see what is most effective about this publication and to help us identify ways to improve it. As a public body we do not share data with other organisations unless the law permits us to do so. We do not sell individual information. We will share it only with our authorised Data Processors who must act at all times on our instructions as the Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998.


Time to talk bums, bottoms, derrieres – whatever you call yours! “If it’s a loved one you are worried about, nag them until they get checked out.” One in 18 people will get bowel cancer in their lifetime. It’s the UK’s second biggest cancer killer and most common in people over 50, although it can occur in younger people. However, if caught early, there’s a 90 per cent chance of successful treatment.

Peter Harris was looking forward to riding his favourite horse more when he retired as a headteacher five years ago. So the 65-year-old grandfather of two ignored the changes in his bowel habits and his sudden weight loss, which he put down to being more active. “As time went on, it got worse and worse. I had pain in the lower abdomen and real difficulty going to the toilet. When I finally plucked up the courage to visit my GP, I was expecting to be told I had irritable bowel syndrome.” In fact, Peter had bowel cancer and after being fasttracked for tests and further scans, he had his tumour successfully removed by keyhole surgery. He was home two days later. He said: “All I was left with was four little nicks on my belly. What I imagined was far worse than what actually happened. “I’m fighting fit and fully active. I have six monthly check-ups but I feel great.” Peter is now backing an NHS campaign to get people talking about their bowels.

Dr Alison Barnett, Director of Public Health for Medway, said: “Screening is now routinely available for everyone in their 60s in Medway. “Catching bowel cancer early dramatically increases the chances of successful treatment and I would urge everyone invited for screening to act. Screening saves lives.” The NHS Bowel Screening programme is available for everyone aged 60 to 69. Anyone older than 70 can also request a kit by calling freephone 0800 707 6060 or visiting for more details.

Red flag symptoms You should talk to your GP if you have any of the following symptoms? • Bleeding from the bottom or blood in your poo. • Changes in your bowel habits that last more than three weeks. • Lump in your tummy. • Straining feeling after you have visited the loo. • Persistent pain in your tummy or bottom.

“I was lucky – things could have turned out very differently. My advice is: go to your GP as soon as you suspect a problem. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s better to find out sooner when you can do something about it.


• Unexplained tiredness, weight loss, breathlessness or anaemia.

Ask the Medway GP Dr Shariq Lanker



I look after my elderly father and have my grandchildren a lot of the time. What should I give them to eat when they get stomach bugs? It seems to take my dad ages to get over it.


Tummy bugs, coughs, colds and flu are called minor illnesses but they can make you feel rotten. The most important thing is to make sure everyone has enough to drink. Very diluted squash or rehydration fluids (available from the pharmacy) are best. Have small sips – from a spoon for young children – to help keep it down. When they want to start eating again, give them easy to digest foods such as soup, rice, pasta and bread. You don’t say how old your grandchildren are, but babies should have their normal feed throughout. If you are worried about them, check their symptoms and get advice at or 0845 46 47. You can also ask your pharmacist for advice on medications for them.


When I go to see my GP, he asks how much I drink. Why? Surely it is none of his business.

Your GP wants you to be as healthy as possible, something that means giving advice about how to look after your own health as well as providing treatment. Anything you tell your GP remains private, the more honest you are the better advice you will get.


How do I stop my family getting ill all the time? We seemed to be poorly on and off all last winter.


Good hygiene is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself. Wash your hands regularly and well, with soap and water, especially after going to the toilet, before preparing food and after coughing or sneezing. It should take about 30 seconds. Liquid soap is best. Try to stop germs spreading by using tissues (not handkerchiefs) to catch coughs or sneezes, throwing

them away and washing your hands and cleaning switches, door handles, the remote control and other often-touched surfaces. To protect other people, don’t visit hospitals or care homes if you feel unwell and stay away from work or school for 48 hours if you’ve been sick or had diarrhoea. Make sure you have any jabs you are offered, keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet (out of children’s reach), renew repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, take medications exactly as prescribed, and if you use inhalers, keep them close by. Some pharmacists offer over-the-counter medication for free for certain minor illnesses, if you don’t pay for prescriptions. Ask about the minor ailment scheme.

Antibiotics have no effect on viruses. This means they don’t help with colds or flu. They fight bacterial infections – like pneumonia, or kidney infections. If you are prescribed antibiotics, always follow the instructions and complete the course even if you feel better. This will reduce the risk of resistance, and help ensure that antibiotics stay effective for those who need them.

To find out how your GP practice is rated by patients and performs on national targets, visit

Dr Lanker works at Rainham Healthy Living Centre and the Woodlands Family Practice in Gillingham. He is one of the 10 GPs on the Medway Commissioning Group, which is gradually taking on responsibility for buying and planning health services for people in Medway (see page 17 for more details).


Choose well There are a range of NHS services in Medway to help when you have medical problems. They can help you avoid waiting in the emergency department if you don’t need to go to A&E. Can you identify the best treatment for the people in our quiz?


Lauren has a bad stomach ache late at night. What should her mum do? a. Take her to the emergency department b. Dial 999 c. Phone MedOCC d. Phone NHS Direct






David is getting shooting pains in his eye and his vision is blurred. What would you recommend? a. GP appointment b. Emergency department c. Specially-trained optician d. Phone NHS Direct

Amy didn’t use contraception and is worried she may become pregnant. Where should she go? a. GP practice b. Sexual health clinic c. Emergency department d. Pharmacy

Two-year-old Jayne is upset with ear pain. Where should she be taken? a. GP b. Pharmacy c. Minor injuries unit d. Walk-in centre Victoria is having delusions that people are trying to hurt her. What should she do? a. NHS Direct b. Phone GP c. Emergency department d. Phone care co-ordinator

After playing a hard game of football, Steve has pain down his arm, and feels clammy, out of breath and seriously unwell. What should he do? a. Phone GP b. Dial 999 c. Pharmacy d. Emergency department Answers: 1d. Phone NHS Direct for expert advice on symptoms, treatment and what to do next, on 0845 4647. An experienced nurse will phone you back. You can also check symptoms online at

young people). 4a. Jayne needs to be taken to see her GP. If you need an urgent appointment, your GP will try to fit you in. If they can’t, they can refer you to MedOCC or you can go to the walk-in centre at 547-553 Canterbury Street, Gillingham.

2c. In Medway, seven opticians offer an urgent service for sudden eye problems. For details 5. If Victoria is already being of where to find them, visit treated by the mental health service, she (or someone very close to her) needs to phone 3 a, b, d. Free emergency her care co-ordinator. If not, contraception is available from many pharmacies, sexual they should phone her GP or MedOCC on 01634 891855 at health clinics or your GP. It evenings and weekends. This must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The will get her the care she needs. sooner it is taken, the more 6b. Steve has the symptoms effective it is. Anyone not of a heart attack and should using contraception is risking sexually transmitted infections. dial 999. Ambulance staff will Visit to find your assess him and send images to a specialist heart surgery team nearest pharmacy offering at William Harvey Hospital in emergency contraception Ashford. If he needs treatment and C Card services (an to unblock an artery, he will be embarrassment-free way of taken there. obtaining free condoms for


Improving your NHS The way decisions are made about local health services is changing. Under the government’s plans for the NHS, groups of local family doctors and other clinical professionals, like hospital doctors and nurses, will be responsible for planning and buying healthcare for their local communities. In Medway, this group is called Medway Commissioning Group. It is working alongside NHS Kent and Medway to gradually take on responsibility for planning and buying health services until the time is right to take over full responsibility. Among the members of Medway Commissioning Group’s board are 10 GPs who have been chosen by their colleagues to represent all GPs in Medway. They spend some of their time, typically a day or two a week, working with local people and other organisations such as Medway Council, to make decisions about healthcare in Medway. Medway Commissioning Group’s Chairman Dr Peter Green, said: “Doctors and nurses are the ones who spend most time with patients and have first-hand experience of their needs. “We have a track record of working together to improve patient care and the health of Medway’s population but now we have greater influence than ever before to make changes and improvements that will benefit everyone.” The government’s proposals are subject to parliamentary approval, Medway Commissioning Group is operating in shadow form in the meantime.

Get involved

The changes also mean local people and patients will have far greater involvement in decisions about what services are provided, where, and how NHS budgets are used. There will be a new organisation, HealthWatch, to strengthen people’s say about health and care

services. The local HealthWatch will give people real influence over decisions locally, will support individuals and will work with communities. There will also be a national HealthWatch England to bring together all local voices and, for instance, highlight common worries and concerns . Medway Local Involvement Network (LINk) will be one of the building blocks for the new HealthWatch. You can get involved by joining LINk: or phone 01303 297050. A Health and Wellbeing Board, established by Medway Council and involving Medway Commissioning Group and HealthWatch, will decide what services are needed for Medway. You can also join Medway Health Network and get involved in decisions about health care in Medway. • Receive the eNewsletter - Growing Healthier. • Share your opinions and views about health services. • Hear about developments in health of particular interest to you. • Participate in focus groups, consultations and surveys about healthcare. Find out more and sign up at, email or phone 01634 335173.


Fun for families Families who complete a MEND - Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It - healthy lifestyle course can now save money on activities with a new discount card. The card can be used at a number of Clubmarkaccredited sports clubs to help them continue their new healthy and active lifestyle. Activities include martial arts, ice skating, judo, badminton, horse riding and korfball. This is the first time a discount scheme has been set up in Medway to support MEND. Dr Alison Barnett, Medway’s Director of Public Health, said the scheme

will give families greater encouragement to continue their new found healthy lifestyle. She said: “The MEND scheme has helped families become fitter, healthier and happier since it began in 2007. “By supporting people to make small but significant lifestyle changes, it equips them with the skills they need to lead healthier and longer lives.” For more information phone the Supporting Healthy Weight Team on 01634 333741 or email

Registering your wishes Most people want to have a say over the healthcare they receive towards the end of their lives. However, it is not always easy to discuss your thoughts and wishes with those around you. Then, when the time comes, the people caring for you won’t have a clear idea of, for instance, where you want to be treated or the type of care you want.

Holly and Sasha Betts, and Gabrielle Lundy, all MEND graduates, have fun at the launch of the discount card scheme

The My Wishes register is a secure, online database that can be accessed 24/7 only by registered staff responsible for the patient’s care, such as their GP, the ambulance That is why in Medway the NHS has service, community nurses, social set up a My Wishes register, where care and hospice services. people who are approaching the end of their lives can record their The My Wishes register will decisions about the type of care be rolled out across Medway they want to receive, including any throughout the year. cultural or religious wishes; their

Safer sleep

Back to sleep, front to play – that’s the way to keep baby safe. Medway Safeguarding Children Board is urging parents of children under one to follow these simple guidelines: • Never lie babies to sleep on their side or front – always their back, with their feet to the bottom of the cot. • Have baby in a cot in your room for the first six months, but not in your bed. • Give baby sheets and blankets, never duvets or cot bumpers which can make them too hot. • Keep their room temperature between 16°C and 20°C.

Parents should never sleep with their babies on an


choice of where they would like to die, whether at home, in hospital or a hospice and their views on organ donation. It also records key information about their diagnosis, condition and the medical treatment they are receiving.

armchair or sofa; should avoid exposing them to cigarette smoke; and should never abuse drugs or drink heavily when looking after a child. Following this advice could halve the number of sudden infant deaths (cot deaths). For more information, phone The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths on 0808 802 6868 or visit or its dedicated site for young parents, Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Phone Medway’s Infant Feeding Co-ordinator on 01634 331054 for support. Get help to stop smoking. Call Medway Stop Smoking Service on 0800 234 6805 or visit

Your local NHS NHS Medway, Fifty Pembroke Court, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4EL Patient Advice and Liaison Service Complaints

01634 335020

0800 014 1641 0800 014 1634

Medway Community Healthcare, 01634 382777 Units 7/8 Ambley Green, Bailey Drive, Gillingham Business Park, Gillingham, ME8 0NJ Customer Care: 01634 382266 Email (provides the vast majority of community health services in Medway, such as district nurses, health visitors, speech and language therapists, out of hours GP and nurse care).

Medway NHS Foundation Trust, Medway Maritime Hospital, Windmill Road, Gillingham, ME7 5NY 01634 830000 Patient Advice and Liaison Service 01634 825004 Complaints 01634 825216 Patient Contact Centre (about appointments) 0845 602 2795 Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT – provides mental health and learning disabilities services) 01732 520400 Patient Advice and Liaison Service 0800 587 6757 Complaints 01622 722133 Medway Community Healthcare centres: Darland House, 01634 852323 29 Darland Avenue, Gillingham, ME7 3AL St Bartholomew’s Hospital, New Road, Rochester, ME1 1DS

01634 810900

Wisdom Hospice, High Bank, Rochester, ME1 2NU

01634 830456

Walter Brice Centre, 01634 253611 Tilley Close, Hoo St. Werburgh, Rochester, Kent, ME3 9AE Rainham Community Healthy Living Centre, 103-7 High Street, Rainham, ME8 8AA 01634 337600 Rochester Community Healthy Living Centre, Delce Road, Rochester, ME1 2EL 01634 334200 Lordswood Community Healthy Living Centre, Sultan Road, Lordswood, Chatham, ME5 8TJ 01634 337444 Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Balmoral Gardens, Gillingham, ME7 4PN 01634 334900 Elm House, 01634 400123 15 New Road Avenue, Chatham, ME4 6BA

Keystone Centre, Gun Lane, Strood, ME2 4UL

01634 717755

Walk-in centre, 01634 575232 Medway NHS Healthcare Centre 547-553 Canterbury Street, Gillingham, ME7 5LF (also offers sessions at other locations – phone for details) Parkwood Health Centre, 01634 234400 Long Catlis Road, Parkwood, Rainham, ME8 9PR Twydall Clinic, Twydall Green, Gillingham, ME8 6JY

01634 232007

Elizabeth House, Holding Street, Rainham, ME8 7JP

01634 382091

Canada House, Barnsole Road, Gillingham, ME7 4JL

01634 583000

Will Adams NHS Treatment Centre, 0333 200 1730 Beechings Way, Gillingham, ME8 6AD Medway Council, 01634 306000 Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR Customer First 01634 333333 Social care (children and adults) 01634 334466 Living well in Medway, Friendly advice and guidance for people who want to know about care and support services in Medway and who live in: Chatham, Rochester, Strood or Hoo peninsula contact Citizens’ Advice Bureau 01634 888199 5a New Road, Chatham, ME4 6BG Gillingham or Rainham - contact Carers First 01634 582132 3 Canterbury Street, Gillingham, ME7 5TP Medway Local Involvement Network (LINk) The local independent network of local people and community groups working together to influence and improve Medway’s health and social care services. or phone: 01303 297050 Five ways to wellbeing These are actions which, research shows, can help improve the way we feel and help us get the most out of life. The websites have information about local groups, activities and courses. 1: Connect with the people around you: 2: Be active: 3: Take notice – be aware of the world around you 4: Keep learning: 5: Give – do something nice for someone:


Useful contacts While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors, omissions, or details that may have changed since going to press. Alcohol Alcoholics Anonymous: 01622 751842 Medway Alcohol Services: 01634 833826 Young people’s drug and alcohol services: KCA 01634 338640; Kenward Trust 01622 814187 Arthritis Arthritis Care Helpline: 0808 8004050 Arthritis Research Campaign: 01634 309973 Asthma Medway Asthma Self Help (MASH): 01634 855844, Autism MAGIC (Medway Autism Group and Information Centre): 01634 326230 Kent Autistic Trust: 01634 405168 Bereavement Rainham Bereavement Friendship Group: 01634 364309 Cruse Bereavement Care (Maidstone and Medway branch): 01622 671011 or 0844 477 9400, email: Cruse young people’s helpline: 0808 8081677 Bereaved Parents in Medway: (Heather 10am-2pm) 01634 302171 Blind Kent Association for the Blind: Rehabilitation services, volunteering, clubs and leisure: 01634 332929 Blood testing Blood tests are available at many GP practices and other clinics in Medway. For more details, please ask at your practice or visit Medway Community Healthcare Anticoagulation Service monitors people taking long-term anticoagulation medication (such as warfarin): 01634 810910 or email: Cancer Kent and Medway Cancer Guide: Macmillan Cancer Support: 0808 8080000, Kent and Medway Cancer Network: 01622 713146,


Carers Medway Carers’ Line: 0800 197 4517; Crossroads Care: 01634 868885; Princess Royal Trust Medway Carers Centre: 01634 577340, Cerebral Patient Advice and Liaison Service Cerebral Patient Advice and Liaison Service Care: 01634 851454 Continence care Medway Community Healthcare continence care 01634 382809 COPD Breathe Easy: 08458 505020, Counselling (see also mental health) For information on self-help, visit or ask at your local library. Medway Psychological Therapies: 01634 406087 (9am-7.30pm Mondays and Tuesdays, 9am-5pm Wednesday-Friday) RELATE North Kent: 01634 846914 Support is also available for children and young people. Speak to your GP. Deaf Services For equipment and support for deaf or deaf blind people, contact Medway Council Deaf Services: tel / text: 01634 331727, fax: 01634 331199, SMS: 07795 951465, email: or drop in Wednesdays 9am-1pm at Chatham Contact Point. For demonstration, loan, or purchase of equipment, contact Medway Hi Kent: Audiology Department, Medway Maritime Hospital, 01634 825043,   Dementia 24 hour Dementia Helpline: 0800 5003014 email: DementiaWeb for Kent and Medway: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Family Support: 01634 338630 Dementia Carers Friendship Group: 01634 377254 Admiral Nurses: 01634 382080 Dentistry NHS Medway dental helpline (for help finding a dentist): 0800 0141 538 Community dental service, Medway Community Healthcare: for patients with physical, mental, social or dental special needs. Ask your dentist for a referral if you need one. DentaLine (for emergencies at night or weekends): 01634 890300

Diabetes Medway Community Healthcare specialist diabetes service: 01634 238657 Medway Kids, for families of children with Type 1 diabetes in Medway: Diabetes UK Medway and Swale group: for more information, contact South East regional office: 01372 731363 Disability Medway Community Healthcare Children’s Therapy Team: 01634 334280 Disability Information Service: 01634 838947 Cleft Lip and Palate Association, Kent: 01227 452131 Contact a Family: 0808 8083555 Isle of Grain Carers and Disabled Group: 01634 270425 Domestic Violence (services for women) Ravi Refuge - Asian Project: 0845 100 1006 Medway Domestic Abuse Forum email: 24Hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline: 0808 2000 247 Women’s Support Service: 01622 761146 Domestic Violence (services for men) Men’s Advice Line: 0808 8010327, Drugs KCA (Prescribing and Counselling): 01634 571658 Needle exchange scheme visit to find your local drop in Narcotics Anonymous: 0300 9991212 Young peoples drug and alcohol services: KCA: 01634 338640; Kenward Trust: 01622 814187 Talk to Frank/ National Drugs Helpline: 0800 776 600 Eating Disorders Early diagnosis is important. Speak to your GP. End of life care Palliative careline (urgent health advice or help, 24/7): 01634 792098 The Wisdom Hospice, Medway Community Healthcare: 01634 830456 has 15 inpatient beds. Teams also provide specialist palliative care at home and at Medway Maritime Hospital; a day hospice Monday – Friday; psychosocial and family support to patients and friends; and bereavement support. Epilepsy Epilepsy Action helpline: 0808 800 5050, Equipment Medway Community Healthcare Community Equipment Loan Store: 01634 334860.

Eyes For a list of opticians in Medway, see Sudden eye problem – seven local opticians offer fast expert care to anyone aged two plus with eye pain, blurred vision or other problems. For details, visit Healthcall Optical – free home eye test service for housebound elderly people: 0800 0890155, Falls prevention Medway Community Healthcare falls prevention service: 01634 810953 or Families Medway Families Information Service: 01634 335566, Parentline Plus (part of Family Lives): 0808 800 2222 email: ChildLine: 0800 1111 Feet The Podiatry Appointment Centre: 01634 718113 Footcare services for older people – Age Concern, Chatham 01634 811938 Medway Age Concern (Footcare clinic): 01634 572616 Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia Support Group Medway: 01634 865925, GPs It is always best to see your own GP. For practice details, see or Health Matters spring 2011 edition at Your GP practice will try to fit you in if you need an urgent appointment during the day. If they cannot, they will be able to refer you to MedOCC. Medway Community Healthcare’s Health Visitors are based at: All Saints Children’s Centre, Chatham: 01634 338833 Balmoral Gardens Community Healthy Living Centre: 01634 337500 Keystone Centre, Strood: 01634 717755 Lordswood Community Healthy Living Centre: 01634 337444 Parkwood Community Health Centre, Rainham: 01634 234400  Rainham Community Healthy Living Centre: 01634 337600  Rochester Community Healthy Living Centre: 01634 334276 Sunlight Centre, Gillingham: 01634 338679 Walter Brice Centre, Hoo: 01634 252137  Woodlands Children’s Centre, Gillingham: 01634 338624  Healthy Living Medway Health and Lifestyle Team offers one to one advice and support to help people achieve healthier lifestyles: 01634 888624/ 338600, email: For advice and guidance, see or


Healthy Weight MEND 2-4 offers support for families with children aged 2-4: 01634 333103 MEND 7-13 offers support for families with children aged 7-13: 01634 333741 or email: Tipping the Balance offers support for adults: 01634 333101, email: Exercise Referral: 01634 333720, email: Heart conditions British Heart Foundation heart helpline 0300 330 3311 (local rate, 9am-5pm Monday - Friday) Help with health costs Find out how to claim back money for NHS health costs: 08456 101112 Infant feeding For support with breastfeeding: 01634 331054, email: Interpreters Interpreters are available if you need them to speak to your GP or other health professional. Access will be arranged by the practice or clinic. Kidney conditions Medway Kidney Support Group: 01634 365019 Learning disabilities Medway Learning Disabilities Team: 01634 337433 Shout Out: 01634 338600 Valuing People Learning Disabilities Partnership Board: 01634 337569, The Challenging Behaviour Foundation: 01634 838739, Carers’ Relief Service: 01634 715995 DGSM yourChoice (local Mencap group): 01322 281833 Lymphodema Service Rainham clinic (8am-5pm Monday-Friday): 01634 337592/337602 Email: Maternity Midwifery phoneline: 01634 825188 (for newly expectant mothers who want to book their first midwife appointment direct) Maternity Services Liaison Committee: 07984 120783 ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Sussex & Kent ME/CFS Society: 01273 674828 Kent and Sussex Alternative ME group (KASME)/The Young ME Sufferers Trust: 01634 270425 Mediation Medway Mediation: 01634 832285 – free, impartial and confidential service to resolve neighbour disputes.


Medway LINk An independent network of local people and community groups working together to influence and improve Medway’s health and social care services. 01303 297050, MedOCC Between 6.30pm and 8am Monday - Friday, and at weekends, phone: 01634 891855 if you need an urgent appointment which cannot wait until your GP practice opens. You must ring first – you cannot be seen if you just turn up. Mental health Information about local services and ideas for staying well at: Mental Health Matters, 24/7 hrs emotional support and advice: 0800 107 0160 Depression / anxiety self-help group for women: 01634 718471 Mental Health Service User Engagement Project (for people who use mental health services): 01634 812850, Rethink Hope (recovery-focused local support group) and Rethink Hope in Caring (local support group for carers), both of which are inclusive of black and minority ethnic communities: 01823 365327, Rethink 0845 456 0455 (open 9am-5.30pm Monday Friday), email: Young Minds, the voice for young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Parent’s helpline: 0808 802 5544, PAPYRUS young suicide prevention society. HOPElineUK: 0800 068 4141, Samaritans: 01634 730981 or 08457 909090 or face to face 9am -10pm 7 days a week at Priory Road, Strood ME2 2EG Minor injuries There are specialist minor injuries units in Sittingbourne and Sheppey, for minor injuries that might need cleaning, stitching or dressing. Sheppey Community Hospital, Plover Road, Minster on Sea, ME12 3LT 01795 879104 Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital, Bell Road, ME10 4DT, 01795 418300. Motor Neurone Disease Motor Neurone Disease: 01634 846330 Multiple Sclerosis Multiple Sclerosis Society (Medway): 01634 238502 NHS Continuing Care NHS Medway Continuing and Funded Nursing Care Team on 01634 335045 NHS Direct For health advice and reassurance, symptom checker, and details of local services, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, NHS Direct: 0845 4647, If you use an Android or iPhone smartphone you can download a free NHS Direct app from

Older people Age Concern, Chatham: 01634 811938 Medway Age Concern: 01634 572616 Medway Older People’s Partnership: 01634 812850 Medway Pensioners’ Forum: 01634 842333 Medway Pensioners’ Pop-in: 01634 409422 Welcome Day Centre: 01634 844639 WRVS Information Centre for people over 55, 95-97 High Street, Chatham, ME4 4DL: 01634 844390 Osteoporosis Referral is by GPs or consultant. Osteoporosis Unit, Medway Maritime Hospital (open 8am-5pm Mon-Fri) helpline: 01634 833892 National Osteoporosis Society Medway Support Group: 01634 719266, Occupational health Referral is by GPs, care managers or other professionals. Acute inpatient service: 01634 830000 x 3425 Community brain injury team: 01634 833937 Environmental control service: 01634 833923 Outpatient and hand therapy: 01634 830000 x 3425 Palliative care: 01634 830456 Prosthetic service: 01634 830000 x 3926 Wheelchair and specialist seating: 01634 833935 Parkinson’s Disease Parkinson’s UK: 0844 225 3734, Medway Parkinson’s Disease support group: 01634 831407 Patient Transport Patient Transport Booking Service: 01634 825192 Eligibility criteria apply. British Red Cross Transport Service: 0800 0280831 (Minimum of 48 hours notice, charges apply) HANDS (9.30am-12.30pm Monday-Friday): 01634 830371 Pharmacists In Medway, some pharmacies can provide free medicine for minor conditions, if you do not normally pay a prescription charge. Many also offer free emergency hormonal contraception. For details of opening times, see

Sexual assault East Kent Rapeline (women and girls only) crisis line: 0800 458 2818, support line: 01227 450400, both open Monday - Friday 6.30-9.30pm Family Matters (counselling for survivors of sexual abuse/ assault): 01474 537392, Sexual Health Medway Maritime Hospital GUM clinic (genito-urinary medicine), green zone on level 3, walk-in service, 9am–3.45pm, Monday to Friday: 01634 838948. Elm House, GUM clinic and contraception and sexual health clinic – phone: 01634 400123 for details of walk-in and other clinics. For a full list of clinics in Medway, see For information for young people on sexual health, relationships, contraception, STIs, pregnancy, advice for parents, and where to go in Medway for free, confidential advice and support, see Smoking Stop Smoking Service: 0800 2346805 or 01634 823563, Speech and language therapy Medway Community Healthcare speech and language therapy: 01634 833711 For adults with acquired communication disorders and /or swallowing problems. Medway Community Healthcare children’s speech therapists are based at: Lordswood Community Healthy Living Centre: 01634 337436  St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Rochester: 01634 810968 Parkwood Community Health Centre, Rainham: 01634 234400  Rainham Community Healthy Living Centre: 01634 337630 Rochester Community Healthy Living Centre: 01634 334280 Cleft Lip and Palate Association (Kent): 01227 452131 Spina Bifida Kent Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus: 01474 536501

Physiotherapy Medway Community Healthcare adult physiotherapy service: 01634 821560, see the service’s page at for self-referral form.

Stroke Stroke Association (Medway Stroke Club and Working Age Club): 01634 382868, Stroke Association family support service and Dysphasia-Communication Support service: 01622 351969

Postnatal depression Speak to your GP or health visitor if you are finding it hard to cope.

Walk-in centre Medway NHS Healthcare Centre offers GP and nurse care 8am-8pm 7 days a week: 01634 575232

Rapid response Medway Community Healthcare rapid response team: 01634 382900 (short-term care for people recovering from illness or injury).

Wounds service Medway Community Healthcare wounds service: 01634 810925 Medway Community Healthcare tissue viability and dermatology service: 01634 810919


Urgent help when you need it Need advice, to check symptoms or find an NHS service? NHS Direct at

0856 46 47

Need a pharmacy? Medway pharmacies open late and on Sundays include: Asda, Chatham Sainsbury’s, Hempstead Valley Karson’s, City Way, Rochester Payden’s, Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Gillingham Tesco, Courtney Road, Gillingham

01634 663010 01634 360256 01634 405700 01634 581815 01634 490447

Dental emergency? In office hours, contact your own dentist or, if you do not have a dentist, the NHS Medway dental helpline In the evenings and at weekends, call DentaLine

0800 014 1538 01634 890300

Sudden eye problem? Visit for details of seven high street opticians who offer fast expert care.

Mental health crisis If you are being treated by a specialist mental health service, phone the number you have been given. If not, contact your GP or Mental Health Matters helpline (24 hours a day, 365 days a year)

0800 107 0160

Minor injury that may need cleaning, stitching or dressing? A minor injuries unit is open 9am-9pm, 7 days a week at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital, Bell Road, Sittingbourne, ME10 4DT

01795 418300

Need to see a doctor? It’s always best to see your own GP. To find a GP practice where you can register, visit or phone NHS Direct. If you need to see a GP urgently, your practice will try to fit you in. If they cannot, and you need an urgent appointment, they will be able to refer you to MedOCC. Or you can try the walk-in centre.

Walk-in centre For care by GPs and nurses, 8am-8pm, 7 days a week. Medway NHS Healthcare Centre, 547-553 Canterbury Street, Gillingham, ME7 5LF

01634 575232

Need to see a doctor when your practice is closed? MedOCC - for urgent care from 6.30pm-8am Monday - Friday and 24 hours at weekends and bank holidays You must ring first – you cannot be seen if you just turn up.

Serious or life-threatening illness or injury? Phone 999 or go to the emergency department at Medway Maritime Hospital. Please keep emergency services free for those who really need them


01634 891855

Health Matters - Autumn 2011  

Local guide to health services in Medway