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July 2020

Southport & Formby Cancer Centre Re-opens

Southport and Formby Cancer Information and Support Centre on Stanley Street, Southport are re-opening its doors to provide residents affected by cancer with face to face, COVID safe support following the recent easing of lockdown restrictions.

MacMillan LogoThe team at the centre – a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – has put measures in place so that it can safely resume services for patients and staff. This means that there are some changes to the way the service is delivered, initially, there will only be pre-bookable appointments available. The team will be continually reviewing guidance so that the drop-in service, support groups, courses and events will also be resumed as soon as it is safe to do so.

To protect staff, volunteers and service users, a simple health questionnaire and temperature check will be carried out before anyone enters the centre. In addition, unless there is a medical reason why it is not possible, visitors and staff will be required to wear a disposable mask or face covering of their own. All rooms that are used in the centre comply with the 2-metre social distancing guidance. The centre will be thoroughly cleaned at the start and end of each day and all tables, chairs and used areas will be wiped down after each person has left.

Dr Graeme Allan, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“We know that there has been a sharp drop in the number of patients referred for cancer investigations and appointments during the pandemic. We understand that some people may be concerned about visiting their GP with symptoms or attending hospital for a cancer referral appointment. Strict infection control procedures and video and phone consultations have been introduced in GP practices to ensure the safety of patients and staff. It is vital that people contact their GP if they have any signs or symptoms of cancer because early diagnosis saves lives.

“It’s brilliant to see the Southport and Formby Cancer Information and Support Centre re-open, we know that coronavirus means people living with cancer need help now more than ever. The Centre has increased the number of counseling sessions so that the trained and experienced staff can provide more vital emotional support to people with cancer locally.”

Tanya Mulvey, Centre manager at Southport Cancer Information and Support Centre, said:

“We know that the last few months have been incredibly difficult for people affected by cancer and although we have been offering telephone support (which we’ll continue to do), we know that seeing someone face-to-face is far preferable for many people. Sadly, we will not be able to hold your hand or hug you – but the welcome will be just as warm as it ever was, and we’ll do our very best to help and support you.

“We will be continually reviewing our services against evolving guidance and hope that we will be able to return to our normal service provision as soon as possible.”

To find out about the support available and to book an appointment, please call the Centre on 07976 767188 (Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm)

For more information about the Southport and Formby Cancer Information and Support Centre, visit:


Hospital Chaplains Reflections

Masks become compulsory in shops from Friday.

Martin and Jan 2-picsay
Martin Abrams and Jan Fraser, chaplains at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals, reflect on their work with patients and families affected by Covid-19 – and the duty on all of us to keep one another safe.
Our aim as chaplains is to offer pastoral, spiritual and religious support to patients and staff appropriate to their circumstances and understanding.  We do this through individual patient visits, ward visits and by being a presence at the heart of the organisation.  We are proud that one of the first doors you come to from the main entrance to our hospitals is the Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Office.
Covid-19 has, of course, been a massive challenge to everyone.  It has been a challenge to society with offices, shops and the leisure industry closing.  A lot of industry ground to a halt.  Many individuals were shielding and just about everyone was prevented from seeing their loved ones.  Weddings were postponed, funerals went ahead but with previously unimaginable restrictions, and we have handed over control of our lives to others. 
The Church has had to find new ways of working, and like many other organisations may never, and some would argue should never, be the same again.
For the NHS and hospital chaplaincy, the changes were fast and unprecedented with the many routine workings of the hospital sacrificed for a total focus on supporting the seriously ill and those with Covid-19. 
Practically for us, by mid-March volunteers had been asked to stay away and relatives, other than in extreme circumstances, were stopped from coming to the hospital.  As I write, many of these restrictions remain in place.  With no volunteers and some of the chaplaincy team needing to shield, Jan and I rearranged our work accordingly and, with the support of one honorary chaplain and one part-time “on call” chaplain, have been supporting the staff and patient community throughout.
We have been privileged to be able to offer a “thought for the week” for staff, which has been well received, and have been working at every level of the hospital to offer support. 
We had the unthinkable task of supporting the family of our colleague, nurse Josephine Peter, who died of the virus, and on their behalf planning and taking her funeral.  The “clap past” arranged on the day of her funeral, as her cortege passed outside, was incredibly moving. 
We have been trained in using masks and full PPE and have, at times, looked more like space travellers than chaplains.  However, this has enabled us to offer ministry in all areas of the hospital, including our intensive care unit.  On many occasions we have held the hands of dying patients when their family could not be there, sometimes holding phones to help conversations happen.  
There was unprecedented need for our support. It was physically and emotionally draining.
As well as supporting the hospital community, we were asked to do a large number of funerals on the basis we were with patients when their families could not.  In more routine situations we were visiting Covid and non-Covid patients and had the privilege of being their only visitors and in this unique circumstance sharing conversation, news and support. 
Other staff and teams have, of course, done many incredible things offering, among other things, facility for families to communicate with families via video calls and deliver letters sent by email. In many cases, our staff needed to read out these messages for those unable to do so for themselves.
As the unpredictable virus worked its horror, we saw the horrendous, the miraculous and, from the whole hospital team, incredible acts of self-sacrifice. 
In terms of theological and spiritual reflection, it is perhaps a bit early yet.  Processing life changing experiences must shape our faith and outlook on life and cannot be rushed into.  That said, over the last months, we have had the privilege of offering a servant ministry, which is what chaplains do all the time. 
I have heard it said many times during the Covid pandemic, “the Church has not closed; it has simply left the building”.  Hospital chaplaincy and spiritual care services have been doing this for years.  Specifically, we have left the church buildings, but every day reach out in faith and hope offering genuine, integrity filled spiritual support in the wonderful and terrible of life’s experience.   That has not changed over the last months, nor can I see it changing.
Within the hospital community we have got used to keeping one another safe by wearing masks.  Looking forward we hope people will recognise the importance of protecting each other by the wearing of masks.  It seems a small ask to protect us from seeing again some of the horrors of the past months.
Martin Abrams is Chaplaincy Manager and Freedom to Speak Up Guardian and Jan Fraser Hospital Chaplain, at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

Contact Martin at or call 01704 704639.

Urgent Eye Care

New urgent eye care service launches in Sefton

Eye CareAn innovative new service offering telephone and video consultations is now providing urgent eye care for people across Sefton. The urgent eye care service (CUES) has been put in place to ensure borough residents have quick and easy access to optical care during the pandemic through the use of online and remote technology.

To coincide with the launch of the service, people across Sefton are being urged not to ignore eye problems, with the number of patients across the area seeking care for urgent eye conditions having dropped during the coronavirus pandemic.
Typical symptoms that the service will treat include a red or painful eye, foreign body in the eye, a sudden change in vision, or flashes and floaters, which might suggest retinal detachment.

This service is commissioned by NHS South Sefton and NHS Southport and Formby CCG and is provided by local opticians via the optometry federation, Primary Eyecare Services Ltd (PES) with the support of the Local Optical Committee.
Accessing help early via the CUES service will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for patients.

Access to the service is restricted to telephone booking only to:

· Identify people with COVID-19 symptoms, at-risk /self-isolating people to signpost to appropriate services

· Offer telephone/ video consultation and self-care advice or provide signed orders remotely, where appropriate
· Offer face to face appointments with optometrist following telephone/video consultations for those who are presenting with urgent and higher risk symptoms (observing PPE guidance and social distancing advice)
· Signpost to emergency services as appropriate.

Patients should be advised to contact a participating optician directly, participating practices can be found at

To access the service, patients simply call an optician from the list.

They will then have an initial assessment over the phone or online to determine if they need a face to face appointment.

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton CCG, said:

“The main aim of this service is to ensure people can access urgent eyecare, using the established and expert workforce in optical practices.
“This is essential to reduce demand on primary care and hospital eye services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, added:

“The service will use technology to provide remote consultations to patients meaning more patients will be able to access services, either at or close to home, reducing the need for travel and hospital visits.”

Dharmesh Patel, chief executive officer of Primary Eyecare Services, said:

“The service provides the quickest access to the right care for patients. This is crucial as delays to treatment can have a serious impact on long-term eye health, and in some cases even sight loss.”

Patients positive about GPs

Southport and Formby patients positive about GPs

Patient SurveyResults from the latest national GP Patient Survey published by NHS England last week show that patients in Southport and Formby overall are positive about the care they receive from their GP practice.

This survey provides insight into patients’ experiences of general practice in the period prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Headline findings in the area are all above the national and the Merseyside average:

• 91% of patients said that in their last appointment they felt that the healthcare professional recognised and/or understood any mental health needs that they might have had
• 86% of patients would describe their experience of their GP practice as ‘good’
• When patients were asked if the receptionist at their GP practice was helpful 92% said yes
• 79% of patients felt that over the past 12 months they had enough support from local services and organisations to help manage conditions

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

"It’s very encouraging to know that the majority of patients in our local area feel that their mental health needs were understood at their last GP appointment. Knowing that most patients rated their GP service as ‘good’ is also fantastic news and I’m sure this has been helped by the introduction of our 7 day GP service. We know that there are still more improvements to be made and we are doing all we can in working with partners to improve local health services.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are accessing GP services differently, for example via telephone consultations and the requirement to wear a face mask if you do attend a face to face appointment. However, please remember that the NHS is here to support you and that there are rigorous infection control measures in place to ensure all staff and patients are protected.”


Nursing Career?

Considering a career in nursing? 

Nurse in a maskThe Covid crisis shone a light on the incredible teams that make up the NHS. Bursaries have returned, so now is a fantastic time to make your first steps into a career where you can really make a difference.

Nursing courses at University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) still have vacancies for BSc in Adult Nursing, starting this September.  To find out more, visit to UCLan website and to apply visit the UCAS website.  Where possible, placements are allocated by postcode, so students studying at UCLan can spend their placement at Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals. This will help them to gain valuable experience in their local area, without incurring huge costs which come from moving away during studies.

Bridget Lees, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Therapies at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust explains:

“We know that many local people are facing financial uncertainty this year, so the option of studying close to home, with a placement in your local hospital, and a bursary – will hopefully be an attractive option for many in our community.

“During the Covid crisis we were overwhelmed by the support we received from local people around Southport and Ormskirk.  So we hope this positive relationship can continue and idea of working and studying in partnership with us will appeal to the next generation of nurses.  I am sure that many young people, having seeing healthcare workers have such an incredible impact on society, will be inspired to follow this career pathway.”

Sarah Traill, Deputy Head of the School of Nursing at UCLan continues:

“Nursing is an exciting and rewarding profession, and here at UCLan we take pride in working with our practice partners to create the conditions that enable our students to fulfil their potential and embrace new possibilities. 

“Whether this is a second career or a first step into the world of work and study, our expert team of academics, researchers and practitioners will guide you to become the nurse of the future.” 

To find out more about careers in the NHS:

visit: and for jobs at Southport and Ormskirk



Amazing support from local sewing groups

More thanks offered to the local community from the staff at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

Scrubs makerDuring the peak months of the pandemic, much more staff needed to wear scrubs to work. This loosely-fitting uniform is worn by all staff in high-risk COVID areas – including nurses, doctors and housekeepers. It makes it easier to get changed after a shift, leaving the scrubs behind to be sent to the laundry and professionally cleaned. It is thus reducing the risk of any staff member spreading the virus outside of their working areas, or taking it home to loved ones.

A national shortage of scrubs at this time was a result of the vast and sudden increase in demand. Sewing groups across the UK quickly mobilised networks of volunteers to step in and help.

Therese Patten, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Strategy at the Trust explains:

“Two local groups, ‘Formby and Southport Scrubbers’ and ‘For the Love of Scrubs’ got in touch to offer help. We were very fortunate to receive nearly 1000 sets of handmade, much-needed scrubs for our staff.

“Without this help, we would have had a real struggle on our hands. I would like to say a huge thank you to the hundreds of incredibly professional volunteers in these groups – who mobilised via Facebook at a time of national crisis. The kindness, ingenuity and desire to help that we saw day in, day out, for months, was truly inspirational.”