NHS leaders call on patients with norovirus to stay away from hospital

Published on Feb 1, 2019

The local NHS in Scarborough and Ryedale is calling on residents and communities for help to prevent the spread of norovirus.

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has taken the unusual step of restricting visiting to York Hospital “for the safety of patients and staff” after an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug and the closure of wards.

Norovirus is also affecting several wards at Scarborough and Bridlington Hospitals, with people urged to think twice before visiting loved ones.

Anyone who thinks they may have flu or norovirus is advised not to visit a GP surgery, but to stay at home and call NHS 111 for advice if necessary.

NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG Associate Chair, Dr Peter Billingsley, said: “When we have loved ones who are poorly and in hospital, it’s natural we want to be with them, even if we’re feeling under the weather ourselves. However, norovirus is particularly contagious and the risk of passing these infections on to the person you are visiting in hospital who may already be quite ill – as well as other sick people and hospital staff – is extremely high.”

Beverley Geary, Chief Nurse at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Over the past few weeks we have experienced a high level of norovirus at York Hospital which has resulted in the closure of wards in order to stop the spread, which means we have reduced bed capacity. Closing wards can help to contain the virus but visitors play a huge part in preventing the continued spread of the infection.

“The safety of our patients is our top priority. While we recognise the importance of having people visit when you are in hospital, we now need to introduce these measures in order to protect our patients, as well as keeping our staff safe, well and able to come into work.”

Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK. Like the flu, it spreads rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes. It can be spread through contact with an infected person, by contact with contaminated surfaces or by consuming contaminated food or water.

Typical symptoms of a norovirus infection include the sudden onset of projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people also experience headaches, mild temperature and stomach cramps.

There is no treatment for norovirus but it is important people who have the winter vomiting bug keep hydrated to combat the loss of fluids. People with norovirus will recover in a day or two, but will remain infectious for up to three days after recovery.

There are simple steps people can take to reduce the risk of spreading norovirus:-

Thorough hand washing – wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry

Don’t prepare food while infected

Immediately clean and disinfect surfaces after episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting

Wash clothes and bed linen that may be contaminated thoroughly

Drink plenty of fluids – stay away from caffeine and pay particular attention to the young and elderly for signs of dehydration

For more information please visit www.nhs.uk/norovirus

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GP advice on how to stay well this winter

Published on Nov 27, 2018

With winter just around the corner, NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG are advising local residents on the best ways to stay well during the cold weather.

There are a number of effects the winter can have, and they are not just physical, the colder weather and shorter days can also affect your mental health.

NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG, Governing Body member and Local GP, Dr Peter Billingsly has a lot useful tips to help you stay well this winter.

Be aware of norovirus

‘Norovirus outbreaks are more common this time of year, there is no specific treatment for norovirus, but you can take steps to ease your symptoms. If you’ve got sickness and diarrhoea, stay hydrated.

‘Don’t see your GP unless symptoms persist more than a few days, the best ways to avoid catching norovirus is wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet. Last but not least, norovirus can leave you contagious 48 hours after the symptoms go, so please avoid hospitals and care homes.’

Get your flu vaccination

‘The best way to stay protected against the flu is to get the vaccination, the jab is free for pregnant women, over 65s and those with underlying health conditions. If you have a child ages 2 – 3 they are entitled to a free flu nasal spray to keep them protected.

‘If you are experiencing flu like symptoms, please seek advice from your pharmacist before it gets more serious. If you want to book a vaccination please contact your GP practice.’

Use the right service

‘If it is not an emergency, you can get medical advice 24/7 by using the NHS 111 service, they have trained medical professionals available who can direct you to the most appropriate medical care.

‘If you want to speak to someone face to face you don’t always have to wait for an appointment with your doctor. Your local pharmacy can provide clinical advice for minor health conditions common over the winter period such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.’

Keep a stock of useful medicines

‘It is important to keep a stock of over the counter medicines in your home over the Christmas period as your local surgery or pharmacy may not be open.

‘These remedies could include basic painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol, cough syrup and antacids that are all available at your local supermarket.’

Look out for yourself and others

‘The colder weather and shorter days can affect your mental health, get out in the sunshine if you can, even short bursts can improve your mental wellbeing.

‘Older neighbours and relatives are more vulnerable in the winter months and may need a bit of extra help to stay well, make sure you keep in touch and check in on them when you can.’

There is further advice on self-care here, you can also find details of GP and pharmacy opening times over the winter season here.

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Patients encouraged to support community pharmacies in Scarborough and Ryedale

Published on Apr 19, 2018

(Footage courtesy of That’s North Yorkshire, Freeview Channel 7)

Patients in Scarborough and Ryedale are being encouraged to use their local high street community pharmacy for prescriptions, health advice and over-the-counter medicines, as online pharmacy companies step up their efforts to promote their “repeat prescriptions” service and attract new customers.

Community Pharmacy North Yorkshire which represents many high street pharmacies, says residents who use an online pharmacy company need to be aware that they will not get access to the same range of services and risk missing out on important face-to-face help and support.

Jack Davies, Chief Executive Officer of Community Pharmacy North Yorkshire, said: “High street community pharmacies do so much more than just provide prescription medication and over-the-counter remedies – they provide a range of other valuable services that just can’t be replicated by an online provider and offer a personal touch that can make a huge difference to a patient’s health and wellbeing. Online pharmacy is an option, but people need to be aware of their limitations.”

Community Pharmacy North Yorkshire has produced a list of services and benefits offered by a community pharmacist that it says, realistically, internet-based pharmacy companies may not, or will not be able to provide. They include:

  • Dispense liquid medicines
  • Dispense refrigerated lines such as insulin and vaccines
  • Dispense controlled drugs
  • Dispense drugs required for immediate use
  • Face-to-Face contact for discussion or review about current medicines (Medicines Use Review)
  • Personal Face to Face Minor Ailments advice
  • Personal Face-to-Face contact for discussion about new medicines (New Medicine Service)
  • Within walking distance from your home
  • Run targeted local health campaigns
  • Is an accredited Healthy Living Pharmacy
  • Access to locally commissioned services, such as morning-after pill, smoking cessation, falls assessment, alcohol awareness

Alastair Farquhar, Head of Pharmacy at Lincolnshire Co-op, which runs 49 pharmacies including its Aberdeen Walk Pharmacy in Scarborough, said: “All pharmacists have trained for five years and can offer expert advice on lots of minor ailments. Most pharmacies in North Yorkshire offer confidential consultation rooms too.

“We can help with many common problems such as coughs, colds, aches and pains, treating minor injuries and infections – and we provide medicines management advice. If a community pharmacist can’t help, we’ll tell you whether you need to see a doctor or where else you could get the best treatment.”

NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says patients need to make “an informed choice” about which pharmacy service they use.

Dr Greg Black, NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG clinical lead for medicine, said: “Patients are free to get their prescription medicine from an online pharmacy, if they wish, but they may prefer the face-to-face interaction of a high street pharmacy.

“The majority of people live within easy reach of a community pharmacy and many pharmacies offer extended opening hours in the evenings and at weekends, making them convenient and accessible.

“Community pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals. They’re experts in helping patients manage medication and long-term conditions and are an important component of the local healthcare system in Scarborough and Ryedale.”

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NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG backs Stay Well Pharmacy campaign

Published on Feb 26, 2018

NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is backing a national campaign to encourage people to make more use of their local pharmacy to free up GP time for sicker patients and potentially save the NHS around £850 million a year.

Stay Well Pharmacy is a campaign from NHS England which encourages people, especially parents and carers of children under the age of five, to visit their local pharmacy team first for clinical advice for minor health concerns such as sore throats, coughs, colds, tummy troubles, teething and aches and pains.

Dr Greg Black, NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG’s clinical lead for medicine, said: “Pharmacists are available to provide expert health advice and in most cases are conveniently located and easy to access within local communities.

“Pharmacists are able to provide help in managing minor illnesses and give health and wellbeing advice, so they are a useful person to see for minor health concerns.”

Community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are qualified healthcare professionals who are the right people to see if you need clinical advice or over the counter medicines to help safely manage a wide range of minor health concerns.

Pharmacists are trained in managing minor illness and can assess symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment or simply provide reassurance, for instance when a minor illness will get better on its own with a few days’ rest. And if symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, they have the right clinical training to ensure people get the help they need.

With most people living within easy reach of a pharmacy and with many pharmacies offering extended opening hours in the evenings and at weekends, pharmacy teams offer fast and convenient clinical support with no appointment needed. Most community pharmacies (over 90%) now offer a private consultation room, suitable for a confidential conversation, should it be requested.

Using a pharmacy for minor health concerns will help free up GP time for more urgent appointments and help reduce non-emergency A&E visits.

Search www.nhs.uk/staywellpharmacy for more information and to help you find your nearest NHS pharmacy services and opening hours.

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