Beechfield PPG

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

Number 8
May 2018


It's almost like spring, but not that much...When I were but a young lad, the summers lasted for 11 months, and it rarely rained during that time. At least, that's the way I remember it. Which reminds me, I must get an appointment to see if I can get some anti-nostalgia medication.

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.


National Walking Month - 1st-31st May

Walking is good exercise at any age National Walking Month encourages people to walk more. Being active helps reduce your risk of developing a heart or circulatory condition, as well as having a stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. In addition to these amazing health benefits, here are 9 great reasons to get outside and walk:

  • Feel more energetic
  • Get a healthier body shape and appearance
  • Control your weight
  • Feel less stressed
  • Increase your self-confidence
  • Sleep more easily
  • Enjoy your surroundings
  • Meet people and make new friends through walking groups
  • Save money

Walking is such a simple way to exercise, anyone can do it anywhere. Everybody can increase the amount they walk in a day simply by parking the car a bit further away from your destination, or getting off the bus one stop earlier than normal.

South Holland's Walking Your Way to Health group runs several regular walking groups in the area, to help you get on your feet and socialise at the same time. To find your local group, visit or contact Ray Bowden - South Holland Scheme coordinator - on 01775 762178 or email him at


Death Awareness Week - 14th-20th May 2018

A difficult subject, but this organisation is here to help Every year in May, Dying Matters hosts an Awareness Week, which gives the opportunity to place the importance of talking about dying, death and bereavement. Talking about dying makes it more likely that you, or your loved one, will die as you might have wished and it will make it easier for your loved ones if they know you have had a 'good death'.

There are many organisations available to help with these discussions, and to help you manage the end stages of a loved one's life, and what happens next. It is important to speak to your GP who will be able to put you in touch with relevant groups and professionals. For more information on end of life care visit NHS Choices at and for support or further information about the campaign visit


Action on Stroke Month - 1st-31st May

Be aware of stroke symptoms "Make May Purple" is the Stroke Associations annual stroke awareness month. Individuals show their support for those affected by stroke and help raise awareness and essential funds for the Stroke Association.

A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. Without blood your brain cells can be damaged or die. All strokes are different. For some people the effects may be relatively minor and may not last long. Others may be left with more serious problems that make them dependent on other people.

Unfortunately not everyone survives – around one in eight people die within 30 days of having a stroke. That’s why it’s so important to be able to recognise the symptoms and get medical help as quickly as possible. The quicker you receive treatment, the better your chances for a good recovery.

It can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. It's vital to know how to spot the warning signs of a stroke in yourself or someone else. Using the FAST test is the best way to do this.

  • Face: Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?
  • Arms: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?
  • Time: If you see any of these three signs, it's time to call 999.

There is no way of knowing if symptoms will pass or get better when they first start, so you need to seek immediate medical help. A stroke is a medical emergency - always dial 999. The quicker the person arrives at a specialist stroke unit, the quicker they will receive appropriate treatment. For more information on Action on Stroke Month visit the Stroke Association at


Mental Health Awareness Week - 15th-21st May 2018

Mental Health Awareness Week is a UK event supported by the Mental Health Foundation. The aim is to educate the public about mental health issues and to promote better mental health. This year's Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on stress.

Help with mental health It's important to take care of yourself and get the most from life. Below are 10 practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes to how you live doesn't need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. Anyone can follow this advice. Why not start today?

  1. Talk about your feelings - Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.
  2. Keep active - Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
  3. Eat well - Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that's good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
  4. Drink sensibly - We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
  5. Keep in touch - There's nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that's not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it's good for you!
  6. Ask for help - None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don't go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can't cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.
  7. Take a break - A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘'me time'.
  8. Do something you're good at - What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you're good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.
  9. Accept who you are - We're all different. It's much healthier to accept that you're unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.
  10. Care for others - Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.

For more information on the campaign, visit or


World Asthma Day - 2nd May 2018

The aim of World Asthma Day is to raise awareness, care and support for those affected by asthma. Whilst the primary focus is supporting the person with asthma, support may also extend to family, friends and caregivers.

Image of asthmatic airways Asthma is a long-term condition that affects your airways - the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. You could say that someone with asthma has 'sensitive' airways that are inflamed and ready to react when they come into contact with something they don't like. Asthma often runs in families, and especially affects those with a history of allergies and/or smoking.

Asthma affects each sufferer differently, many people are able to manage their condition with a simple combination of inhaled therapies which sooth and open up the airways. Many people will even grow out of their asthmatic condition before they reach adulthood. Some people however suffer from more severe forms of asthma which can limit their day to day activities, and have a big impact on their lives.

If you are Asthmatic, your GP surgery will invite for regular check ups to ensure that you are managing your condition appropriately and are receiving the right treatment. It is important that you attend when invited. If you haven’t had an asthma check in the last year, call the surgery today to make your appointment.

To find out more about Asthma visit the Asthma UK website at or the British Lung Foundation who run local support groups around the country for people and families living with Asthma.


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."

What Remains by Tim Weaver
Cover of the book, What Remains

Not the usual type of book I normally read - it is a crime novel with a difference, part of a series, but it does not matter if you have not read any of the previous books involving David Raker as a Missing Persons Investigator.

This time he becomes involved with an old friend who happens to be a disgraced ex policeman who has lost everything and descended into alcoholism, all due to an unsolved murder of a mum and twin daughters. Finding the murderer and the reason why they died is an obsession that despite no longer being on the force he is determined to resolve, hence the involvement of the investigator.

Their lives are often in danger and there is quite a lot of historical content regarding old London and old fashioned entertainment. The twists and turns are breathtaking at times and the twist at the end would not be seen by even the most avid crime reader.


**** New Medical School for Lincolnshire - PDF Here

**** Changes to Proof of Exemption - PDF Here


Sun Awareness Week - 14th-20th May 2018

After such a long, dull winter it might seem silly to talk about the need for sun care but even on cooler days, sun damage is still a risk for us all. More than one in three (35%) Brits have been sunburnt in the last year while in the UK, and of those 28 per cent were sunburnt three or more times, according to a survey carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists.

Ouch, sunburn can be very painful Brits are even more likely to be sunburnt abroad, with almost half of people who have been abroad in the last twelve months getting sunburnt whilst away (46 per cent). This high rate of sunburn is despite the fact that 88 per cent of Brits believe that sun awareness messaging is relevant to their skin type.

Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. Sunburn doesn't just happen on holiday - you can burn in the UK, even when it's cloudy. There's no safe or healthy way to get a tan. A tan doesn't protect your skin from the sun's harmful effects. Aim to strike a balance between protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Sun safety tips
Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October. Make sure you:

  • spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
  • make sure you never burn
  • cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
  • take extra care with children
  • use at least factor 15 sunscreen and re-apply it regularly

For more information on how to stay Sun Safe visit the NHS Choices website at


Deaf Awareness Week - 15th-21st May 2018

The UK Council on Deafness is the umbrella body for voluntary organisations working with deaf people in the UK. Their mission is to assist organisations and the sector as a whole to maximise the positive impact they have for deaf people.

The UK Council on Deafness Many people living with deafness can find social situations difficult as they cannot fully understand the environment in the same way hearing people can. It is important to be understanding and conscious of their needs when dealing with people with hearing loss.
Tips to help when dealing with people with hearing loss:

  1. Do not yell or talk loudly.
  2. Do not mumble.
  3. If the person prefers to use speech-reading, speak normally and avoid speaking too slow or too fast.
  4. Do not over emphasize your facial expressions or lip movements as this can reduce communication.
  5. Face the person and make eye contact when speaking.

If you are concerned about your hearing, speak to your GP who will be able to refer you for a hearing test and get the right support and treatment if needed.


The Monthly Vape

Vaping is not smoking It's interesting to look back over the past 8 months that I have been writing this section and see how things have changed, or indeed, not. In this country vaping is now the most popular method of quitting cigarettes, in fact, the UK is probably leading the world in this regard. We have the lowest smoking rates in Europe save only for Sweden, where the tobacco pouches known as Snus have contributed to the lowest smoking rates for years, around 5% *. MPs have been debating the pig's breakfast that is the EU's TPD (as it relates to vaping) and there is also dissent within the EU as well as calls from respected authorities to urgently revise this part of the TPD. The EU did make overtures about taxing vaping products, but thankfully this seems to have taken a back seat in the face of overwhelming condemnation of any such move. However, while the UK leads the world, many other countries are moving to ban or highly restrict vaping. The main reason for this is of course, money. Both the pharmaceutical companies and the tobacco companies are seeing their revenues fall, and countries with an economy that includes tobacco cultivation do not want to let go of that lucrative industry. Australia is way behind in accepting vaping as a quit method in spite of overwhelming evidence that it is the most effective way of stopping and the USA is a minefield of conflicting interests. In Thailand you can go to jail for vaping in public...

A typical low cost startup system And then there are the dissenters, who almost without exception are funded by tobacco tax money. Of course, they don't want to see this easy revenue stream dry up (err, go up in smoke, geddit?) and in some cases we're talking millions of dollars of funding. It's easy to see why these organisations are willing to sacrifice public health to maintain their incomes. And then there's 'statistics', cherry picked and manoeuvered into click bait grabber headlines which almost always have a very limited connection with the truth. As a result there are still many who believe that vaping is as bad as smoking, or even worse. Yet a few minutes trawling the interweb will easily turn up factual, genuine research which easily counters the often outrageous claims which receive so much publicity.

A more sophisticated tank system So to summarise: Very little, if anything, is bad about vaping. Gateway into smoking, heavy metals, formaldehyde, carcinogens - it's all propaganda supported poorly by actual facts and genuine trials or close examination of the data. Nearly 3 million people in the UK have switched - and it's the best possible thing you can do for your long term health compared to smoking tobacco. And how about a cost of about 50p per week - care to compare that to a week's worth of tobacco?

* Snus has been so effective at helping people stop smoking that the EU banned it years ago, and recently upheld that ban. Obviously that has nothing to do with cigarette tax revenues or 'support' from corporates directly or indirectly reliant on tobacco sales.

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

This issue marks the end of the current Editor's tenure. I'm handing over the reins to someone new and I wish them every success.

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.