Health & Wellbeing Feed

Covid Lockdown Tightened

Sefton Council has just announced more COVID lockdown restrictions.

Coronavirus Image

On Friday, September 18, 2020 it was confirmed that Merseyside will now adhere to a series of new local measures to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In close discussions with local leaders, the Health and Social Care Secretary, NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), and the Chief Medical Officer for England have agreed to introduce local measures in Merseyside, including Sefton.

As of Tuesday, September 22, the following measures must be adhered to:

• Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens
• Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
• Late night operating hours will be restricted, with Leisure and entertainment venues including        restaurants, pubs, and cinemas, required to close between 10pm to 5am.
Residents are also advised to adhere to the following guidance to further reduce rates of infection:
• Only to use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
• Avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.

For the latest information and restrictions in Care Home visitations please click here.


Nursing Times Award Nomination

Intensive Care Team Nominated For an Award

Nurse-3624463_640The Intensive Care team at Southport hospital has been shortlisted for a Nursing Times award, thanks to the innovative ways team members worked during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to the pandemic, visiting this unit, which cares for the most seriously sick patients, has been impossible since March. This has been extremely challenging and upsetting for patients and families, and this inspired frustrated staff to find innovative solution.
One of their ideas was to create a short video of the unit, so that families could more easily visualise the situation their loved ones were in. 
Matron for ICU Angie Westwood explains:

“In more normal times, we pride ourselves on holding the hands, literally and emotionally, of our patients’ families during their stay here. The environment is very different to other areas of the hospital and this can be frightening, but we know how to support people through this.  When visiting had to stop, we had to think and act quickly to find new ways to support people. 
“We created a video so that families could at least picture where their loved ones were being treated.  We also made sure daily video calls happened, we updated families over the phone three times a day, and brought in extra measures for palliative patients. This included bereavement boxes which we hand-delivered to families, including a card written by the staff member who stayed with their loved one until they sadly died.
“I am immensely proud of every single person who worked in this unit over the last few months.  Each one had to put their own concerns and worries aside, working tirelessly in the most challenging circumstances that any of us have ever experienced. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to each one of them, and say how much I think they deserve to win this award.”

Midwife Swims Mersey

Midwife conquers Mersey for charity

Keran Carter Swim July 2020-picsayPerinatal mental health midwife Keran Carter, who works for Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, just conquered the impressive challenge of swimming across the River Mersey, and raised over £2,300 with her efforts!

Keran took on this challenge to raise money for the hospital’s Maternity Bereavement Fund, which supports parents during a very difficult time.  All money raised will help the maternity unit to improve its bereavement suite facilities and resources, and to provide more support for families following their loss. 

Keran explains:

“Our heart goes out to these women and their families at such a difficult time in their life.  Wanting to improve our support for them is very close to our heart, we want to provide the best service possible.

“This is the fifth time I have done the swim for different charities, and each swim is unique with its own challenges.

“I love open water swimming and the Mersey Swim is one of the best you can do! Thank you to Liam Hanlon and Robin Baynes from Liverpool Heart Beat for organising such a fantastic event!”

Trish Armstrong Child, Chief Executive at the Trust adds:

“What an incredible achievement! Keran and her team do such important work, we are incredibly proud of them all.  Thank you Keran for taking on this challenge and raising much needed funds.”


Vulnerable residents advised to take extra care in the heat

Sefton health professionals have come together to urge residents to be aware of the health risks of hot weather to vulnerable people in the community.

In England, there are on average 2,000 heat-related deaths a year. The most at-risk people are those with underlying health conditions, babies, and the very young and older people – especially those over 75.

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

Hot weather warning“Enjoying the sun is one of the things that many people look forward to over the summer months but it is worth remembering that sunny spells can pose health risks for some people.

“It is important to protect yourself and others from too much sun or heat, to carry water when travelling and to think of those, such as young children or older people, who may feel the heat more acutely than others.

“Much of the advice on beating the heat is common sense. But before the hot weather arrives, it is a really good idea to think about what you can do to protect yourself and your family and friends from the heat.”

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

“People with long-term conditions should take extra care in hot weather. We do have a growing number of patients with diabetes and they need to be aware that hot sun can have an impact on them.

“People with diabetes should test their blood sugar levels regularly, avoid dehydration by drinking enough water and take precautions against sunburn as some patients can be particularly susceptible to burns on their feet either from the sun or hot ground.

“Community pharmacies can help you prepare for and avoid conditions associated with hot weather, such as insect bites and sunburn. Although it is vital that if you are feeling unwell and need urgent advice that you call NHS 111, which is open 24 hours-a-day.”

Margaret Jones, Director of Public Health for Sefton, explained:

“Temperatures indoors can be higher than temperatures outdoors that is why we are urging everyone to keep an eye on those you know who may be at risk this summer. If you are able, ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any support.

“When using public spaces please do make sure to follow coronavirus socially distancing guidance and wash your hands regularly.”

Some key top tips to beat the heat this summer:

  • stay cool indoors – many of us will need to stay safe at home this summer so know how to keep your home cool
  • close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children, or animals
  • try to keep out of the sun between 11 am to 3pm
  • walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat.
  • To find out about the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke and when to get help, visit: NHS Live Well

For more tips to beat the heat and cope with hot weather, visit: Public Health England

For information for people with diabetes about dealing with hot weather, visit: Diabetes UK


Breastfeeding Week

Local people reassured that breastfeeding support is available

Breastfeeding WeekThis World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), health organisations in Sefton are reassuring new parents that there is still infant feeding support available during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Breastfeeding is scientifically proven to have several benefits to both mother and baby. Studies show that breastfeeding can:

  • help babies fight infections and illnesses
  • help strengthen the bond between mother and baby
  • lower the risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, and breast cancer
  • burn up to 300 calories a day.

More than 81% of women in the UK start breastfeeding, and 17% of babies are still exclusively breastfed at 3 months. Jane Lunt, the interim chief nurse for NHS South Sefton and Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said:

“Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial, we recommend for optimum growth and development that babies are given nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months (26 weeks) of their life but we know that this is not always possible.
“Whether you are breastfeeding or using first infant formula we aim to ensure that however you feed your baby, you feel supported in your choice and are enabled to do so in an informed way.
“If you have any problems or concerns with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, it is important to ask for help from your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist.”

Charlotte Smith, Consultant in public health for Sefton, said:

“We know that this can be a particularly worrisome time for new families but there are simple steps you can take to help protect your new family. These steps include, washing your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching your baby, routinely disinfecting surfaces and cleaning infant feeding equipment after every use.
“World Breastfeeding Week is a brilliant opportunity to remind mothers and parents in Sefton that infant feeding advice and support is available.”
Infant feeding support and advice available:

Led by volunteers, the Sefton Breastfeeding Support Service provides practical and emotional support to expectant and new mothers – call 07752 661 408 or 0151 291 8010 from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.
The National Breastfeeding Helpline can be reached on 0300 100 0212 from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm every day. The Start4Life Breastfeeding Friend chatbot is also available any time day or night for fast, friendly, trusted NHS advice.”

If you have any questions, concerns, or need some advice (whether you are breastfeeding or using first infant formula), call the NCT helpline (0300 330 0700).


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.”