Beechfield PPG

Beechfield Medical Centre (Spalding, Lincolnshire)
Patient Participation Group Newsletter

Number 7
April 2018


Cherry blossom is appearing but it's late this yearWell, we're past the Equinox, but few of us will have noticed much improvment in the weather so far, with snow being forecast for Easter Monday. I blame the Gubmint, or Brexit, or plastic pollution, or Trump. I mean, it must be somebody's fault and as we live in a blame culture I'm determined to find out who is responsible.

The Beechfield PPG's aim is to keep you informed with snippets of information and updates on the Surgery's and our own activities. The PPG has its own web site at do please have a look.


Spring Health - Hayfever

Hayfever season is fast approaching The most common allergy that people experience is Hayfever, or 'Allergic Rhinitis'. This can occur at all times of the year but is usually worse between March and October, when the weather is warm, humid and windy. This is also when the pollen count is at its highest. Symptoms of hay fever include:

  • sneezing and coughing
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • loss of smell
  • pain around your temples and forehead
  • headache
  • earache
  • feeling tired
  • Asthma sufferers might also:
    • Have a tight feeling in their chest
    • Be short of breath
    • Wheeze and cough

Hay fever will last for weeks or months, unlike a cold which usually goes away after 1 to 2 weeks.

How to treat the symptoms of hay fever yourself

There's currently no cure for hay fever and you can't prevent it. But you can do things to ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high.

  • put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  • shower and change your clothes after you've been outside to wash pollen off
  • stay indoors whenever possible
  • keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
  • vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter

But avoid the following where at all possible:

  • Don't cut the grass or walk on grass
  • Don't spend too much time outside
  • Don't keep fresh flowers in the house
  • Don't smoke or be around smoke – it makes your symptoms worse
  • Don't dry clothes outside – they can catch pollen
  • Don't let pets into the house if possible – they can carry pollen indoors
  • In short, almost all the things that usually make Summer a time to enjoy...

Your Pharmacist can give advice and suggest the best treatments, like antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays. But if your symptoms are worsening or don't improve with the treatments suggested by the Pharmacist, do make an appointment to see your GP - more sophisticated treatments are available for difficult cases.


Boston hospital opens new £2.5M maternity unit

Smart new Maternity Unit at PilgrimA new antenatal and postnatal unit has opened at Boston Pilgrim Hospital. Work is now complete on the unit to improve the environment for pregnant women, new mums and families in Boston and the surrounding areas after a £2.5 million upgrade from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT).

Antenatal care is the care you get during pregnancy and postnatal care in given following birth. The new maternity ward replaces outdated facilities and includes six en-suite single rooms, and four larger three-bed rooms with a shared shower room. There is also a large day room for families to use, a spacious ward bathroom and shower room for partners staying overnight.


Bowel Cancer Awareness month - April 2018

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), a fantastic annual opportunity to raise awareness of bowel cancer and funds to support our work. This year Beating Bowel Cancer and Bowel Cancer UK have merged to form the UK’s leading bowel cancer charity, with a mission to ensure that by 2050, no-one will die of bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, However it shouldn’t be because it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops.

If you have any symptoms, don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them. Doctors are used to seeing lots of people with bowel problems.

The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

Bowel Cancer UK link Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, go to see your GP.

Sometimes, a tumour can block the bowel, causing sudden strong pains in the stomach area, bloating and feeling or being sick. You may also be unable to empty your bowels or pass wind. If you think you have a blocked bowel, see your GP straight away or go to a hospital accident and emergency department. Visit the NHS Choices or Bowel Cancer UK website for more information.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland people over the age of 60 are invited to take part in bowel cancer screening. You will be invited to take part in screening every two years until you reach the age of 75.

Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment has the best chance of working. The test can also find polyps (non-cancerous growths), which might develop into cancer. Polyps can easily be removed, to lower the risk of bowel cancer.

Each of the screening programmes in the UK use home tests, which look for hidden blood in poo. If you are registered with a GP and within the eligible screening age range a test will be automatically posted to you, so you can complete it in the privacy of your own home. All national screening programmes are free to anyone invited to take part. If you are invited, don’t miss your opportunity, complete and return your sample as soon as possible.


Allergy Awareness Week 25th April - 1st May 2018

An allergy is the response of the body's immune system to normally harmless substances, such as pollens, foods, and house dust mites. Whilst in most people these substances (allergens) pose no problem, in allergic individuals their immune system identifies them as a ’threat’ and produces an inappropriate response. The most common causes of allergic reactions are:

  • pollen from trees and grasses
  • proteins secreted from house dust mites
  • moulds
  • foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs
  • pets such as cats and dogs, and other furry or hairy animals such as horses, rabbits and guinea pigs
  • insects such as wasps and bees
  • medicines (these may cause reactions by binding to proteins in the blood, which then trigger the reaction)

If you suspect you may have an allergy to something, tests are available for most common allergens, so speak to your GP if you have concerns. Also here's a link to one of the leading UK charities (Allergy UK) with lots of useful content.

In most allergic reactions the resulting chemicals are released locally into the tissues in a particular part of the body (skin - rash, itching, eyes - puffy, redness etc.). This means the symptoms of the allergic reaction usually only occur in this area.

In more serious reactions, known as anaphylaxis, the chemicals that cause the allergic symptoms (e.g. histamine) are released into the bloodstream. The symptoms of anaphylaxis usually occur within minutes of exposure to the trigger substance (allergen) but sometimes an hour or so later. The most common causes of anaphylactic reactions include:

  • certain foods (including peanuts, tree nuts or shellfish). However, all foods can potentially cause anaphylaxis
  • insect stings
  • drugs and contrast agents (used in some x-ray tests), particularly those given by injection

The Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Any or all of the following symptoms may be present during an anaphylaxis reaction:

  • Swelling of tongue and/or throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing or speaking
  • Vocal changes (hoarse voice)
  • Wheeze or persistent cough or severe asthma
  • Difficult or noisy breathing
  • Stomach cramps or vomiting after an insect sting
  • Dizziness / collapse / loss of consciousness (due to a drop in blood pressure) (floppiness in babies)

Most people with an allergy that is known to cause anaphylaxis will carry adrenaline, otherwise known as an Epi-Pen. These come with clear instructions on how they can be used and can be used very simply in an emergency situation by anybody. If you suspect that someone is experiencing anaphylaxis you must act quickly, and dial 999 for emergency assistance. Visit the NHS Choices or Allergy UK website for more information.


Parkinson's Awareness Week - 10th - 16th April

Parkinson's Disease is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. There's currently no cure for Parkinson's and we don't yet know why people get the condition. There are however lots of different treatments, therapies and support available to help manage the condition.

People with Parkinson's don't have enough of the chemical dopamine because some of the nerve cells that make it have died. Researchers think it's a combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause the dopamine-producing nerve cells to die.

Parkinsonism is a term that covers a range of conditions that have similar symptoms to Parkinson's. Most people with a form of parkinsonism have idiopathic Parkinson's disease, also known as Parkinson's.

Everyone's Parkinson's is different. If you're worried you may have Parkinson's, it's crucial that you speak to a health professional. There are 3 main symptoms of Parkinson's, but not everyone will experience all of them:

  • Slowness - Movements are slower or less co-ordinated.
  • Shaking - Involuntary shaking movement in a part of your body.
  • Rigidity - Stiff or inflexible muscles.

If you are concerned about your own health, or a loved one, contact you GP as soon as possible. For further information visit the NHS Choices or Parkinsons UK website.


Ruth's Literary recommendations

"As an avid reader and member of a book group I read a wide selection of books so each month I will bring a title that I have enjoyed or that has stayed with me long after I have finished the book."

The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy
Cover of the book, House Of Birds

This is not set in an aviary nor does it feature birds flying around, which the title may suggest.

A decrepit house is left to a family member who does not want it; her plan is to renovate and sell but as often happens there are others who think that the house should be theirs so long standing family feuds are re-ignited.

The boyfriend of the new owner who until now had been a man of today, whose only wish was to make money and enjoy life, becomes very involved with finding out the history of this house and its previous owners. After finding parts of a diary from the 1920s he is determined to find the rest of the diary. This as you can imagine leads to many escapades.

The book is in two time zones and it is surprising that many of the social issues of the 1920s are still relevant today in some parts of the world.

I enjoyed this book more than I first thought but did think that the writing of the 1920s period was of a higher standard than the present day writing it was almost as if two authors had written it which of course was not so. Give it a try though, you maybe surprised.


**** Last month we provided a link to a PDF as part of the article about Sleep, entitled 'Sleep Matters'. Unfortunately the link was incorrect, so apologies for that, Here is a working link to the document.

Dementia Networking graphic **** There's a networking meeting over in Lincoln on 18th April, which may interest some of you. Here's a PDF flyer with all the details.


European Immunisation Week - 23rd - 29th April

European Immunisation Week (EIW) promotes the core message that immunisation is vital to prevent diseases and protect life. The slogan - Prevent. Protect. Immunise. - carries this message across the Region. The goal of EIW is to increase vaccination coverage by raising awareness of the importance of immunisation among parents and caregivers, health care professionals, policy and decision-makers and the media.

Routine vaccination schedules are present across all European countries, and while each is slightly different, they all aim to protect the residents of that country against potential life threatening diseases. Most vaccinations are given in childhood and are free in the UK, so it is extremely important that children are kept up to date, especially if they have moved location or country during their childhood as they may be at increased risk. Vaccination protects children from serious illness and complications of vaccine-preventable diseases which can include amputation of an arm or leg, paralysis of limbs, hearing loss, convulsions, brain damage and death. Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps and whooping cough, are still a threat.

If you or your child are invited to attend for a routine vaccination, please do not ignore it. If you have concerns about the vaccination, make an appointment to discuss it with your Practice Nurse who will be able to answer all your questions and help you make an informed decision that is right for you/your family. Visit the NHS Choices website for further information on routine vaccinations.


The Monthly Vape - just do it!

Do visit the web site This month, April is also VAPRIL month. Supported by the hunky Dr Christian Jessen and promoted by the UK Vaping Industry Association this is an industry led initiative to promote Vaping - and at no cost to the taxpayer. During the month they are running 'Vaping Masterclasses' at ten major venues across the UK, and a limited number of starter kits are available free too. Do visit for a lot more information.

Vaping is now the most successful and popular way of stopping or cutting down smoking. So many ex smokers tell the story of trying everything out there, without success or with repeated attempts - until they tried vaping. And officialdom (in the UK at least, but don't ask about Australia...) is slowly but steadily turning in favour of Vaping as the most effective method. Government plans are already forming to positively revise the widely criticised EU instigated TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) post Brexit, which places some inexplicable restrictions on vaping. This for example, illustrates well the new Gubmint approach to Vaping.

Few of you will have heard of Louise Ross, from Leicester Stop Smoking Services. Louise was one of the first 'official' voices to be heard campaigning for Vaping as a successful route to quitting. She's just retired, and her swansong is Here - definitely a great summary, particularly regarding the misleading press and clickbait headlines which are published by the current breed of lazy journalists.

And for a very hard (but mostly truthful) summary of current attitudes to THR (Tobacco Harm Reduction) do read this... It largely explains why there's so much resistance to Vaping (and Snus, come to that).

Here's a 1 minute video worth watching too.

If you or someone you know would like to consider Vaping then please feel free to call Tony Wright on 01775 714303 for unbiased and helpful advice.

Disclaimer: Tony does not speak on behalf of the NHS and has no commercial interests in Vaping!

That's it

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Thank you to our various contributors - please keep up the good work!

The views and comments expressed in this newsletter are solely those of the members of the BMC PPG and no agreement to or endorsement of them, tacit or otherwise, should be inferred from any other party including the partners, staff or agents of Beechfield Medical Centre.