Beechfield PPG

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

Number 4
January 2018


Happy New Year Welcome to the Beechfield PPG's fourth Newsletter. Our aim is to keep you informed with snippets of information and updates on the Surgery's and our own activities. The PPG's main objectives are published on our web site at do please have a look - we'd welcome any suggestions for improvement or updates.

Alcohol Awareness - "Dry January"

OopsWe're supposed to be keeping an eye on how much we drink, but how many of us really know what a unit of alcohol is? With so many different drinks and glass sizes, from shots to pints - not to mention bottles - it's easy to get confused about how many units are in your drink.

Units are a simple way of expressing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink as well as its alcohol strength. For example, a pint of strong lager contains 3 units of alcohol, whereas the same volume of low-strength lager has just over 2 units. Knowing your units will help you stay in control of your drinking.

Alcohol Units for common drinks To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:

  • men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
  • spread your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
  • if you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week

Fourteen units is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine. Dry January is an annual movement through which millions of people give up alcohol for the month of January. This campaign is run by Alcohol Concern.

Why Do Dry January?

  • To reset your relationship with alcohol - realise you don't need it
  • New year, new you - do Dry January and feel healthier and happier as:
    • you sleep better
    • your skin improves
    • you lose weight
  • More money in your pocket (the average person spends £50,000 on booze in their lifetime)
  • Get healthier - through giving up alcohol for a month you do your insides a lot of good.
  • Amazing sense of achievement!

Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Medicines?

These days, many of us routinely take lots of different medicines and there maybe occasions when we have forgotten why they were prescribed in the first place or we may wonder why one has to be taken before food and another after food, for example. If you would like to know if you are getting the most out of the medicines you need, do you know that you can visit any Pharmacy and, for free, your Pharmacist will be able to carry out a Medicines Use Review?

Get free advice from your local pharmacistBasically this is a private and confidential chat about you and the medicines prescribed for you. They will look at the medicines you are taking and check you are complying with the manufacturer’s recommendation for making the most of their product. It could be for instance checking if you are using your inhaler correctly, ensuring you are using the recommended amount of cream for best effect, or swallowing the tablets whole where required. In short using their expertise in all things medicine related to help you maintain optimum health. Appointments are not usually necessary.

It doesn’t take long - about 10 to 15 minutes and it could make a difference to your ability to manage your health or ask any questions you have about your prescription.

HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR to all our readers.

Obesity Awareness Week - 8th-14th January 2018

Obesity Awareness Week is an annual campaign run by the National Obesity Forum to promote a more healthy & active lifestyle, and raise awareness of the health risk of being overweight.

Exercise makes you feel goodThe term 'obese' describes a person who's very overweight, with a lot of body fat. It's a common problem in the UK that's estimated to affect around one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11. Obesity can lead to health issues, such as poor mobility, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and some types of cancer. It can also have a negative effect on people who suffer from depression or anxiety. But the good news is, it is entirely preventable!

With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce the amount of body weight you carry and therefore improve your health and wellbeing. The best way to treat obesity is to eat a healthy, reduced-calorie diet and exercise regularly. To do this you should:

  • eat a balanced, calorie-controlled diet as recommended by a health professional or weight loss consultant
  • join a local weight loss group
  • take up activities such as fast walking, jogging, swimming or tennis for 150 to 300 minutes (two-and-a-half to five hours) a week
  • eat slowly and avoid situations where you know you could be tempted to overeat
  • don't skip breakfast - this will kick-start your metabolism and help you burn calories throughout the day
  • stay hydrated - sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger. Aim to drink around 2 liters of water every day - more if you are exercising.

There are plenty of local exercise and weight loss groups available, for people of all ages and abilities. Visit your local council website or NHS Choices for help and advice. Your GP surgery can also support you in losing weight; just make an appointment with a Nurse or Health Care Assistant.

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 Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katerina Bivald Cover of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
After last months serious read now for something to lift the post Christmas Blues. This is a translation from Swedish but in spite of that I do not think that anything has been lost in the translation.

Sara has an ideal job working in a bookshop in a small Swedish town though her passion for books and reading takes up her life, to the exclusion of true human friendships. Unexpectedly the bookshop closes so her job is lost. She has been corresponding with an elderly lady, Amy in Broken Wheel, Iowa who has invited her to visit, so suddenly being at a loose end seems to be the ideal time.

On arrival things are not as expected as Amy has recently died leaving an amazing collection of books. Staying in the house Sara decides that something must be done to honour Amy so after finding an empty shop which she can rent, and with the help of a very varied collection of locals and a certain amount of cynicism, she decides to get the town reading.

After many engaging twists and turns throughout the story - people are reading, a surprise to many! This reader was left with a feeling of pleasure and joy.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week - 22nd-28th January 2018

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is an annual campaign run by Jo’s Trust, a cervical cancer charity to promote the importance of screening and the risks of not attending when invited.

Almost half a million young women aged 25-29 did not attend cervical screening last year, this Cervical Cancer Prevention Week aims to change this.

  • Every day in the UK 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer
  • Around 2 women lose their lives from the disease every day
  • Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35
  • 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by cervical screening (smear tests)
  • However 1 in 4 women do not attend this potentially life-saving test

Do have regular smear tests The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to attend for your cervical screening (smear) test when you are invited. Cervical screening is free and women between the ages of 25 and 65 will be invited as part of a national scheme.

If you are feeling anxious beforehand, you can ask a member of your family or friend to accompany you. Your practice nurse will be happy to talk through any anxieties that you have prior to your cervical screening appointment.

Cervical screening is NOT a test to find cancer. It is a screening test to detect changes to the cells of the cervix, which are called cervical abnormalities. 90-94% of all screening results come back normal, with no abnormalities found. It is important to remember that an abnormal screening result rarely means cancer.

Having regular cervical screening offers the best protection against developing cervical cancer. Please take up your invitation to attend your cervical screening test; regular screening saves lives. If you haven't had a smear test in the last 5 years, or have recently received an invitation, please contact the surgery as soon as possible to make your appointments.


The December NAPP Newsletter is now available from our News Page Here

Tonic Health provide support for dementia sufferers and those with mental health problems. They wrote to us with details of their schemes - Read More Here (PDF)

The charity Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) can help to cut your household's energy costs and carbon footprint this winter with a free advice service. Click Here for more information (PDF)

The Monthly Vape

Coils from Kanger and Aspire Following on from Part 1 last month it will be no surprise to find Part 2 - this month about tanks. A typical tank is easily refillable without any spillage and contains a heating element (a coil of resistance wire) and a wick. The tank shown above is rather out of date now (it's actually an older style 'clearomiser'), but the wicks can be clearly seen trailing down from the coil, which is at the top of the tank. This arrangement can easily lead to the coil not getting enough juice, resulting in a 'dry hit' - once experienced, never forgotten; and never repeated! A burnt wick tastes foul and the coil assembly usually has to be discarded.

A simple coil is just a few turns of resistance wireMore modern tanks have coils at the bottom and can be very simple. A large sub culture exists for those who like to tinker and wind their own coils, but this is way beyond the scope of this article. The 'average' coil is just a few turns of resistance wire with suitable wicking material, usually cotton. The coil itself has a long life (months) but the wicking material tends to get clogged after a period of time which varies from days to weeks. Some coil assemblies can be dismantled and the wick replaced, which extends the life of the coil assembly considerably. One of the big advantages of giving up smoking is the considerably lower cost of vaping, but it rankles a bit if a coil assembly only lasts a few days; most off the shelf coil assemblies cost around £1.50 each and can't be dismantled. Quality control can be questionable, so a poor coil assembly might only last a few days, a good one might last ten times as long!

Tanks from Aspire and KangerTwo more modern tanks are shown at left from Aspire and Kanger, two of the market leaders. Unfortunately due to the EU's TPD (tobacco products directive) all tanks sold in the EU are limited to 2ml capacity, but the internet is your friend and larger tanks can easily be bought from reliable overseas suppliers such as Fasttech or Gearbest. For many people, a 2ml tank will need refilling twice in a day - this restriction has no basis in reason, science or health, much the same as the restrictions on refill bottle sizes to 10ml and maximum juice strengths of 20mg/ml.The TPD also leads to some of the most ridiculous product warnings ever, equivalent to a warning on an empty pint glass that 'This product contains alcohol'. Go figure...

Tanks from Aspire and KangerCoil resistances are one of the most confusing aspects of vaping, not helped at all by many retailers who are more interested in selling large quantities of juice than helping smokers to quit. By recommending low resistance coils, low Nicotine juices (3mg/ml or 6mg/ml) and high powers they'll sell a lot more juice (with high profit margins) and a more expensive 'mod' and batteries. And from the general public's viewpoint so called 'cloud chasing', the result of the shop's recommendation, is a facet which certainly doesn't help the average vaper's cause. At least one significant authority also recommends against using more juice than necessary.

For technical reasons, coil resistance has to be matched with the power capability of the coil and the ability of the mod to supply that power. Many coils come with power recommendations, which is a great help. For the most effective setup to quit smoking, a good setup would be a coil resistance of 1.2 to 1.8 ohms, power settings between 8W and 15W and juice strength of 18mg/ml or higher. Should a 6mg/ml juice be chosen, powers between 30W and 50W will likely be needed, and juice consumption will skyrocket. This is particularly important when first quitting smoking - as well as Nicotine, cigarettes contain several other additives which make them particularly addictive and effective, so it's really important initially to use a high Nicotine juice.

Yep, I know it was long this month. But if one (or hopefully, more than one) person converts to vaping from smoking then it has been worthwhile. With the New Year upon us, and with smoking rates rates in the UK the lowest on record, and the second lowest in Europe (* Sweden has the lowest smoking rates) it is clear that in spite of the negative reports vaping has proved a very effective quitting tool for around 2.9M people - so far. In 2018 and beyond the momentum can only continue, a benefit to public health and the NHS.

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.

* Why does Sweden have the lowest smoking rates (just 5%) in Europe and possibly the world?
Well, many Swedes now use a product called Snus to help them stop smoking, this is a small pouch of processed tobacco that's tucked under your top lip. Smoking rates, as well as lung cancer rates and oral cancer are very low in Sweden as a direct result of this 'consumer led revolution'. So why can't the rest of Europe have Snus, as it's been so successful for public health in Sweden? Because the EU banned it of course, protecting the interests of the NRT industry and the cigarette companies (Sweden, having some common sense, opted out). If in doubt, follow the money...

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

That's it

So, to summarise the first Newsletter of 2018 - Watch your drinking, don't be overweight, do exercise, have your smear test (ladies only chaps, don't even ask!) and ditch smoking in favour of vaping... We hope you all live to a ripe old age and the time to start a new healthier lifestyle just could be today!

This Newsletter is also available online at

and as a printable PDF Here

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.