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NHS staff urge people to make the right choice for health care as lockdown eases

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The NHS is calling on people living and visiting Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to have fun, stay safe and if they need health care to use the most appropriate service as it gears up for a very busy ‘bank holiday-style’ weekend.

With pubs, bars, restaurants, tourist hotspots and accommodation beginning to reopen after more than 100 days of coronavirus lockdown this weekend, the county is going to be much busier than it has been in recent weeks.

Toby Slade, emergency department consultant at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, said: “We can appreciate that people will want to get out and about and make the most of the opportunities that have not been available for so long. As such we’re preparing for a very busy weekend – I’ve heard it described as New Year’s Eve, if New Year’s Eve fell on a sunny bank holiday and lasted up to 24 hours.”

Toby and his NHS colleagues want everyone to enjoy these new freedoms but added: “We know with more people out and about there are greater risks. Think about how much alcohol you’re consuming, please act sensibly – we want to keep you safe.”

The emergency department will remain open for business for serious and life-threatening illnesses or injuries, such as heart attacks or strokes. In instances such as these people should go straight to the emergency department or dial 999.

If a situation arises that is urgent but not serious people are asked to use NHS 111.

He said: “Help us to help you by using NHS 111. Dial 111 or go online to 111.nhs.uk where you can find a full range of local health services. If you aren’t sure what to do and you have a minor injury use 111 and they will direct you to the most appropriate location to get help.”

"Anyone who does attend the emergency department will find that the waiting room is much smaller than before to maintain social distancing at two metres and reduce the risk of infection to other patients and staff. Following initial assessment, our patients will be requested to wait outside or in their cars - to ensure the reduced waiting room capacity is only for vulnerable patients who really need it."

Iain Chorlton, GP and NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group chairman, said: “I would like to remind people that despite us seeing things beginning to reopen we are still very much in the middle of a pandemic and this is far from over. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s response and support to the crises has been really impressive but we need to keep going.”

“One of the most important actions people can take is if you aren’t sure what to do and you have a minor injury use 111 and they will direct you to the most appropriate location,” he added.

He also has advice for those visiting the county now lockdown restrictions are being lifted.

Dr Chorlton added: “It is also important that if you are unwell and need to see a doctor that you contact your own GP practice even if you’re a visitor and the practice is outside of Cornwall. My practice and practices up and down the country are offering video appointments which mean we can see patients safely and quickly during the pandemic.

“This weekend marks 72 years of the NHS and the best way you can say thank you is to use the right services and follow social distancing guidelines.”

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Stratton overnight service will remain in place until the end of the financial year

This month, it has been confirmed that the innovative partnership which has enabled the provision of overnight services at Stratton Hospital will remain in place until 31 March 2021 and then will be part of the annual contracting round.

Stratton Hospital

The service is provided by an advanced clinician from Kernow Health CIC, who deliver the county’s urgent care service out of hours. The service is accessed by calling NHS 111 and treats people who would historically attended the minor injury unit out of hours, or who need an appointment with the out of hours GP service.

Phil Confue, Chief Executive of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust confirmed, “We are delighted to be able to maintain the innovative service at Stratton until the end of the financial year.

“The overnight service provides peace of mind to people in the far north of Cornwall and over the border in Devon. We have been able to achieve this solution by working together with Kernow Health CIC in response to what the community have told us.”

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Adult mental health unit in Cornwall embark on virtual walk of the UK to raise funds for gym equipment

Land's End to John O'Groats

Fundraisers aren’t letting coronavirus stop a charity hike for a mental health unit in its tracks – instead they’re taking part in a virtual hike of the UK.

Patients and staff from Longreach House in Redruth set off on Monday 1 June on their month long virtual walk between Land’s End and John O’Groats.

During the 30 days, they will cover the extraordinary distance of 874 miles without setting a foot outside the grounds of the unit, hoping their epic efforts will raise £6,500 for much-needed gym equipment.

Lucy McCormick, Sport and Exercise Technician at Longreach said: “We have a diverse range of patients at Longreach and our current exercise equipment is limited. We hope to raise enough funds to purchase a Cardio Wall which is an amazing versatile piece of equipment and would be a hugely beneficial for patients and staff.”

After only 14 days, they have already covered an impressive 498 miles, now working their way through Dufton on their way to Alston.

Sam Martin, Carbis Ward Manager commented: “The challenge has come at a much needed time. It has really helped to motivate staff and patients, promoting a camaraderie of working together to achieve the target. It’s been amazing to see the patients getting really involved, tracking their steps, and walking more.”

One patient even wants to continue the challenge after they are discharged: "I think it is very beneficial having a Steps Challenge whilst in hospital. It gets you out in the fresh air, in nature, keeps you occupied and helps an important cause. It makes you feel part of a community."

Clinical Psychologist, Catherine Collins said this about the benefits of physical activity: “Engaging in physical activities has a proven evidence base for helping to improve low mood. This is because low mood is often associated with social isolation and depleted energy levels creating a vicious circle which keeps the mood depressed.

“Starting a programme of physical exercise is likely to involve social contact, and we know that getting exercise is energising in itself, kicking off an upward spiral of improved mood. It is important to start small with achievable goals, then you can enjoy feelings of success and achievement as additional positive side effects.”

Longreach House are raising funds to purchase a CardioWall to benefit a wide range of patients.

Harry Stevens, Director and Co-Owner of Rugged Interactive, said: “The CardioWall has been very popular in schools, gyms, physical rehab centres and retirement villages. And we have recently had an amazing response from mental health units too.

“Its secret is that whilst it offers both physical and mental challenges, to the user it just feels like they’re playing a game. It’s the game that is the motivator, and that motivation is what’s so valuable for patients in NHS Mental Health units.”

Support Longreach House this June and help them raise £6,500 for gym equipment: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/longreach-steps-challenge

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Farewell Margaret

After 46 years of being qualified, Margaret North will retire from her clinical nursing role today [Friday 12 June].

Rosalie Brown, Home First Team Lead Kerrier commented: “It is with grateful thanks we wish to celebrate Margaret as she retires. She has worked with the Kerrier Integrated team since 2008, initially as a Rapid Assessment Team Nurse.

“Throughout her time at Kerrier, Margaret has used her clinical skill and knowledge extensively to support the patients in the community. She has also worked alongside Adult Social Care colleagues, developing close working relationships that supported joined up working across the Health and Social Care services.

“Margaret never forgets to thank the team members working with her on a daily basis, ensuring the support workers are safe, well and supported. The daily email she sends to each one has a personal touch and is a demonstration of her professionalism and dedication. 

“Margaret is to continue her other role as RCN union representative, using her nursing skills and knowledge to the support the nursing profession and nurses.

“It is with warm hearts that we wish Margaret happiness and joy. We know we will hear from her again as she tirelessly works for the RCN. The team will miss her very much. A big thank you from the Kerrier Home First and the Integrated Care Team.”

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Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) launches new free mental health telephone service

Mental health phone line

A new dedicated 24/7 mental health telephone service for anyone in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly worried about their mental health is now available.

Plans for the dedicated mental health support, advice and triage line were accelerated up as part of the ongoing response by the NHS to the coronavirus pandemic.

The telephone service is available to anyone, regardless of their age, all day every day by calling free on 0800 038 5300 and was launched by the Trust on 5 May 2020.

Dr Adrian Flynn, consultant psychiatrist at CPFT, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer round the clock access to mental health support, advice and onward care, to anyone, regardless of their age.

“If you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health, the team behind our 24/7 free telephone service will listen to you and determine how best to help.”

Dr Flynn added: “In response to the pandemic and acknowledging the impact this challenging time can have on people’s mental health, Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health, asked all mental health trusts to accelerate this aspiration. With the launch of this new service our hope is whatever the time of day or night people who need mental health support will know it is freely and easily available to them via one dedicated telephone number.”

South Western Ambulance Service Trust, NHS 111 and GPs will also be able to use the new mental health telephone service if they are worried about a person’s mental health.

Anyone already receiving mental health support and services should continue to access their care in the same way.

More details about the 24/7 telephone service and additional mental health and wellbeing support is available here: https://www.cornwallft.nhs.uk/i-need-help-now

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A Cornish author to donate book royalties to CFT COVID-19 Appeal

Melanie Stephens

An author from Cornwall is donating the royalties from her collection of short stories about the coronavirus pandemic and life in lockdown to support NHS staff during the pandemic.

Melanie Stephens from Grampound Road, penned Isolation Tales as a way to remember the details of lockdown, the pandemic and the world within it.

All 16 short-stories were self-published in May with the mum of three choosing to donate the royalties to the COVID-19 Appeal set up by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT).

The money will be used to help support the health and wellbeing of community NHS staff in Cornwall at this difficult time.

Melanie, 40, said: “All the stories are based on real people, interviews and testimonials to ensure they really reflect this time. From keyworkers to parents, to children, to the planet and virus itself; the book really covers a broad range of the global crisis.

“I want to donate all the royalties that would come to myself as an author to the NHS. As the book is about the coronavirus it seems only fitting the funds earnt should go to the people on the frontline.”

Rachel Faulkner, Workforce Health and Wellbeing Specialist at CFT commented: “We’re really grateful for the support of Melanie. Her book will not only shine a light on the work that our staff and other key workers are doing, but also the way that the Cornish community has pulled together.

“The donation of the royalties will help us put in place initiatives to support the health and wellbeing of community NHS staff in Cornwall. So far, funds have gone towards some fruit boxes for staff.”

Isolation Tales was written in 16 days with Melanie allocating two hours a day to write.

Apart from having a bit of help editing, the whole process of designing the front cover, formatting and writing a synopsis was done by Melanie herself.

She added: “It was very important to me that the book came out whilst we were all still in lockdown. I wanted people to read it and realise what was happening in the stories was happening right now. The book really shines a light on the courageous work keyworkers are doing every day.”

The book has already received high praise from the public.

One reader, Lisa Neville, commented: “I think the mood that's descended on us all is summed up within these pages. It made me think differently about who are our key workers - the visible and invisible - not only our incredible NHS but the postie and funeral directors. To appreciate them in ways I just never had before. Through Mel's writing I got a new appreciation for everything.”

Wendy Wilkinson said: “Just completed this compelling book of short fictional stories. Clever, uncomplicated text used with dramatic effect engaging the reader from the get go. These accounts will resonate with many for years to come. An emotional rollercoaster at times, but with glimpses of humour to lighten the mood. Undeniably a very poignant book.”

Melanie is currently in the middle of writing two other books, and there is a possibility for a follow up to Isolation Tales, which will include more short stories and poems.

Isolation Tales is exclusive to Amazon in either paperback or e-book: https://amzn.to/2zRGGAD

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Cornwall unites to raise more than £6,000 to support county’s frontline community NHS staff

Fundraisers from across Cornwall have shown the true meaning of community spirit by joining forces to raise thousands of pounds to support NHS frontline workers during the pandemic.

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) launched an appeal back in April to support frontline NHS workers who are working tirelessly every day, risking their lives and putting others before themselves, to continue to serve communities throughout Cornwall. 

 “Our colleagues and volunteers are going above and beyond to ensure care and support remains available in these challenging times,” commented Phil Confue, Chief Executive at CFT. 

“It’s been incredible to see the Cornish community supporting our staff by making PPE, donating food and taking on fundraising challenges. We greatly appreciate everyone’s support and we want to thank our staff for everything they are doing.”

Rebecca and Coby Attewell

One young fundraiser, Coby Attewell, challenged himself and his mum, Rebecca, to cycle, run and walk 110 miles in three weeks of lockdown. Rebecca said: “Coby is aged 10 and will be 11 this year. He has been listening to what is happening about the Coronavirus from the beginning and he said he would like to do something to help the NHS, and to say a personal thank you as he felt very saddened with what they have to face.”

By the end of their three-week challenge, Coby and Rebecca had completed 200 miles and have raised over £1100 for NHS staff, smashing their initial target of £110.

Other fundraisers have taken on similar challenges to stay active during lockdown, having been inspired by Colonel Tom Moore to raise money for the NHS.

Christine Pollard

Christine Pollard even braved the shave: “We're so proud of our NHS and it’s sometimes forgotten in Cornwall, so I thought it would be good to give something back, and as I'm not allowed to go out I thought I may be able to Brave the Shave, it'll give me three months to grow it again, if I want to. I'm so pleased that I have so many good friends and family who feel the same.”

The money raised so far has helped to give staff a hot meal every day when they have been unable to get to the supermarket after long and emotionally demanding shifts. One staff member said, “The meals have been a real boost. A focus on something positive every day and a topic of conversation which provides a bit of welcome relief.”

Funds will also go towards providing a regular delivery of fresh fruit boxes to Community Hospitals, Community Mental Health Teams and District Nursing Teams.

You can support the appeal, and all the fundraisers, here: www.justgiving.com/campaign/CornwallFT-Covid19

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Invictus Trust donate £100,000 to the Sowenna Appeal

Invictus Trust Cafe Sowenna

The memory of a teenager continues to shine brightly as the charity set up in his name donates £100,000 to support the young people at Sowenna – Cornwall’s first adolescent mental health unit.

The family of Ben Cowburn set up the charity Invictus Trust, to raise funds and awareness for teenage mental health in Cornwall, after the teenager took his life back in 2010.

At the beginning of February, Invictus Trust donated nearly a further £30,000 to the Sowenna Appeal, taking their total contributions to a whopping £100,000.

The charity has supported the development of a mental health unit specifically for adolescents in Cornwall since the very beginning and been the driving force behind making that dream a reality.

Barbara Vann, Chair at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust commented: “We are delighted to have received a substantial amount of money from the Invictus Trust. Their support throughout this whole journey has been vital in helping to achieve our fundraising goal, and giving the young people in our care the very best support. Thank you to all of the people in Cornwall who have contributed to the Invictus fundraising and those who continue to support Sowenna.”

Steve Cowburn, Invictus Trust Trustee said: “The Invictus Trust is proud to have donated £100,000 to Sowenna, to help add the ‘icing on the cake’ and to help ensure that this world class facility for the young people of Cornwall and their families can continuously improve.

“Following the death of our 18-year-old son in 2010, our family founded the Invictus Trust, campaigning both for the reduction in stigma for adolescent mental health issues and the improvement of services in Cornwall. Since we founded the Anchor Fund, we have financially supported over 20 families a year whose children have been cared for out of Cornwall and often many hundreds of miles away. Now after nine years campaigning with CFT, which has resulted in the opening of Sowenna, we hope that will be the exception and not the norm.

“Our funds have provided a minibus, equipped the café, helped start a virtual reality project, paid for sculpting lessons and equipment, and will now support the music room and offer funds for the ward manager to buy the little extras that will make the young people’s stay more enjoyable. These projects add value over and above the excellent work the staff are doing in a wonderful new building with so many attractive features not found elsewhere in the country – it is truly world class.”

Sculptor, Richard Austin, said: “The discussions we have in each sculpting session show great emotional intelligence, understanding and compassion. This is much more than just playing with clay.”

“We are very proud to have contributed and will continue to do so with our campaign now to extend the care offered to be from 13-25 years in line with the NHS Plan and hopefully to be the first in the country to achieve it,” Steve Cowburn continued.

“We would like to thank our amazing supporters who have raised the funds and the staff and Sowenna Appeal Board for their incredible work and openness to working together for the good of all.”

The £11 million Sowenna, which means ‘success and welfare’ in Cornish, unit opened in September 2019. Sowenna has 14 beds and offers specialist in-patient mental health support for children and adolescents between 13 and 18 years old.

Find out more about Sowenna here https://sowenna.cornwallft.nhs.uk/ and support the appeal at https://sowenna.cornwallft.nhs.uk/sowenna-appeal.

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Public told ‘act FAST’ as NHS uses artificial intelligence to speed up stroke care

FAST

The NHS is today urging anyone who thinks they or a loved one have symptoms of the killer condition not be put off seeking help because of coronavirus but to ‘act FAST’.

NHS staff have worked hard to ensure anyone who needs stroke care can safely get it despite the biggest public health emergency in over a century.

And ahead of statistics out today which are likely to show that A&E attendances fell significantly in April, top doctors are urging people who may be having a stroke to come forward for care as soon as possible.

One trust has rapidly adopted an AI (Artificial Intelligence) tool to enable them to speed up decision making and treatment despite dealing with coronavirus.

AI solutions are being rolled out across the NHS to support clinical decision making on life-changing treatments including mechanical thrombectomy, a procedure which can prevent long-term disability and enable more people to be independent after their stroke.

The new AI tool allows doctors to view patient scans remotely on an app and make better and faster decisions on the right treatment options for their patients.

However, senior medics are concerned that people are putting off getting help when they need it due to coronavirus worries.

As part of the Help Us Help You campaign the NHS is therefore urging the public to continue to act F.A.S.T. and dial 999 when stroke strikes.

Services across the country have been restructured to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to, or passing on infection in hospital.

Plans were also set out to ensure people could continue to get care even if local ambulance and hospital teams were put under much more severe pressure than has been the case.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “If you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke or another killer condition you should seek help as you always would – NHS staff have worked hard to ensure you can get it safely.

“The virus will be with us for some time and that means hospitals will be treating thousands of patients, but at the same time it is great to see cutting edge technologies like AI scans being brought in despite the coronavirus pandemic, to help speed up brain imaging and ensure quicker access to life saving treatment.”

Early results show the tool has significantly increased the proportion of patients who have received timely and potentially life-saving treatment.

Encouraging use of this technology was initially set out in the NHS’ Long Term Plan, published last year, as one of a series of measures designed to improve brain saving treatments, save thousands more lives and save more people from life-long disability.

Dr Deb Lowe, NHS national clinical director for stroke, said: “While NHS staff have rightly gone over and above to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic, providing safe, world-class treatment for killer conditions like stroke has always been a priority.

“Because of that incredible effort from all our doctors, nurses and therapy teams, the NHS has been able to provide care for everyone who has urgently needed it, but my fellow clinicians and I have been really worried that the number of people coming forward for stroke care at the right time has gone down.

“So if you or a loved one experience stroke symptoms, please help us help you, act FAST, and call 999. Our expert paramedics, stroke nurses, radiologists and doctors will ensure you get the care you need as quickly as possible.”

Stroke is a life-threatening condition that often results in people being taken by ambulance to A&E for emergency treatment where time is of the essence.

The quality of care and survival rates for stroke in the NHS care has been improving over recent years, with the organisation of stroke care , and the roll out of new treatments like mechanical thrombectomy – a type of minimally invasive surgery to remove blood clots from the brain.

As the coronavirus pandemic set in, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust fast-tracked the use of an AI tool so they could make faster and better decisions about treatment for stroke patients.

The AI tool, allows hospital staff to share scans quickly with on call stroke physicians so they can advise the teams on the best course of treatment, without a delay that could impact on the patient’s outcomes.

The app uses AI to help read and interpret the scans, enabling doctors to make better and informed decisions about the right course of treatment for each patient.

Whilst attendance with stroke like symptoms at Royal Berkshire fell by a third during March and April, of those who did attend and were diagnosed with a stroke a higher proportion of patients than previously received life changing surgery – an increase of 43 per cent.

Since the beginning of March Royal Berkshire has processed over 150 scans using the AI system, helping many patients get faster treatment.

Dr Kiruba Nagaratnam, consultant stroke physician and geriatrician, and clinical lead for stroke medicine at the RBH, said: “This work has revolutionised the way we traditionally reviewed scans and made treatment decisions when we are on call.

“It has also bypassed the ED physician and radiologist involvement, particularly on weekends. We have already used this to refer patients for life changing thrombectomy surgery on weekends with decisions made remotely.”

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association said: “It’s fantastic news that expert stroke teams are able to use the latest emerging technologies to treat stroke, but they need you to get to hospital as soon as possible to minimise the damage that stroke can bring. Don’t delay. If you spot the signs of a stroke, please Act FAST and call 999.

“I know that many people are worried about coronavirus but I’ve been reassured by the UK’s leading stroke doctors that their teams are ready to ensure that you get the right treatment. We’ve been working with the NHS to ensure that when you leave hospital, you get support despite the current restrictions so that no one is left feeling abandoned or isolated as you start to rebuild your life. If you or your loved ones are experiencing any one of the signs of stroke, the best thing for you and the NHS, is to call 999 and say you’re having a stroke.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“It’s absolutely vital people anyone experiencing symptoms of a stroke seeks urgent medical assistance, and the FAST campaign continues to lives.

“The NHS has faced an unprecedented challenge during this pandemic and it’s hugely impressive to see Trusts continuing to improve patient care through innovation.

“Bringing the benefits of technology to patients and staff is more important than ever, and we are investing in making the NHS a world leader in saving lives through artificial intelligence.”

The F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym is a simple test to help people identify the most common signs of a stroke, and emphasises the importance of acting quickly by calling 999

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time to call 999

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