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Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB Update

Friday 3 February 2023



Opportunities to get involved

Events in the community

Final call for your COVID booster!  

The current COVID vaccination booster scheme will come to an end on Sunday 12 February.

This means if you are eligible for a COVID booster and are due to have one, you should get this booked in as soon as possible.

The vaccination programme in Hertfordshire and west Essex has delivered more than 3.7 million COVID vaccination doses since it began in December 2020.

Thanks to this success the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has now advised bringing the programme to an end.

After this date, a more targeted offer will be made to anyone considered to be at risk of serious illness.

Dr Jane Halpin, Chief Executive of the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board said: “The COVID vaccination programme in Hertfordshire and west Essex has been hugely successful.

"My thanks go to everyone who came forward to protect themselves, their loved ones and those they care for.

"We’re now into the final stretch of this booster campaign and I would urge anyone eligible who hasn’t had their COVID booster to book an appointment at a pharmacy now and make the most of the offer while they can. 

"Flu and COVID have both resulted in very serious illnesses this winter, so top up your immunity now and get protected.”  

If you are considered to be at risk of illness, after 12 February, you will be contacted individually and there will be more information soon about who will be eiligible in future phases of the programme.

If you have not had your first or second jabs, the opportunity to get those will also be on offer until the middle of February.

You can book online or search for pharmacies near you offering walk-in vaccinations using their postcode on the NHS.UK website or get in touch with your pharmacist or GP to see if they are offering this service.

You can have the latest, autumn, COVID-19 booster, if it is at least three months since your previous dose, and you are:

  • an adult aged 50 and over
  • aged 5 to 49 in a clinical risk group, including pregnant women
  • aged 5 to 49 who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • a carer aged 15 to 49
  • resident in care homes for older adults and staff
  • frontline health and social care workers.

You can also check if you are eligible on the ICS website

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Close the gap on World Cancer Day

Saturday (4 February) marks World Cancer Day and this year the campaign is asking us all to take action to close the gap in cancer care.

Last year, in the first year of its three-year ‘Close the gap’ campaign, World Cancer Day highlighted the challenges faced by those of you receiving cancer care, such as income, education and inequality, all around the world.

This year, it is encouraging us to unite our voices to take action, while celebrating progress in areas of cancer care.

At the ICB we continue to work hard to provide the best possible service, care and support for cancer patients across Hertfordshire and west Essex.

In west Essex, One Step at a Time has brought together the experiences of cancer patients and their loved ones, creating stories and films, following their journey which help new patients feel more supported.

The successful initiative launched in 2020 and is a collaboration between the ICB and Princess Alexandra NHS Hospitals Trust, including its Chair of the Patient Panel.

The Cancel Out Cancer programme,  led by volunteers is helping improve awareness and understanding of cancer, while encouraging us all to act in improving our health.

The initiative was developed by patient representatives living in east and north Hertfordshire and championed by Macmillan Cancer Support.

There’s lots of exciting work ongoing across our ICB to help support and care for cancer patients, such as the initiative to encourage take up of cervical screening.

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Tinnitus Awareness Week 2023

Do you or someone you know suffer from tinnitus?

It is highly likely you do - it is estimated as many as one in seven people live with the condition, which causes those who have it to have the sensation of hearing a sound that essentially is not there.

Monday (6 February) marks the start of a week designed to highlight the issue, which affects all sufferers in different ways and can be hugely isolating.

The organisers of the awareness week, which runs until Sunday 12 February, hope you can find out more about tinnitus and there is plenty of information on the Tinnitus UK website.

This includes how to access webinars and listen to videos which try to re-create different examples of what tinnitus might sound like.

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Get active and help improve your mental health

The Find Your Active initiative celebrates the benefits of moving more for our physical and mental health. It reminds us of the importance of finding activities that are right for you.

This month, the theme of the Essex-based initiative is moving more for positive mental wellbeing.
It’s common to experience challenges with our mental wellbeing, especially during this time of the year with the shorter and darker days. Getting more active is about making small lifestyle changes which will help you reap the benefits both physically and mentally.

For some, this might be about doing yoga, either online or at a class to give your mind a rest from the stresses of everyday life.

For others it’s taking regular screen breaks from work and holding walk and talk meetings with colleagues to check in and reenergise; or, it might be about attending a class at your local village hall to get motivated, get socialising and learn new things.
Whatever the reason is, you can support your mental health by doing a spot of physical activity. It doesn’t have to be loads but introducing it in to your life will really support your outlook, your health and your positivity.
To find out more about Find Your Active, the importance of getting moving for a positive mental wellbeing and activities in Essex, visit the Active Essex website. The Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System website also has more information about getting active, including Hertfordshire Health Walks and free exercise videos for you to do at home.

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National HIV Testing Week begins

The Terrence Higgins Trust and HIV Prevention England has launched its annual testing week, designed to promote regular HIV testing and reduce the number of people living undiagnosed.

The campaign, which will launch on Monday (6 February) and run until Sunday 12 February, allows you to order a free testing kit which you can complete at home.

Regular testing will help identify the disease as early as possible - and allow you to get the right care and support for free.

It is hoped this will help get us to the point where there are no new cases of HIV in England by 2030.

Make regular testing part of life, starting from this year's week of national campaigning, and order your free testing kits from the it starts with me website.

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Putting the focus on our children's mental health

Connecting in meaningful ways with others can have a positive impact on our mental health.

Not doing so can sometimes leave us feeling lonely and isolated.

As parents and carers, you play an important role in your child’s wellbeing.

This includes modelling positive behaviours and the benefits of maintaining healthy, meaningful connections with friends and family.

During Children’s Mental Health Week, starting on Monday (6 February) we’re encouraging you to find out how you can support your child and explore the theme of the week – ‘Let’s Connect’ – at home. 

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Opportunities to get involved
Get involved in NHS research in Herts and west Essex

Would you take part in NHS research if you had the chance?

The Healthwatch teams in Hertfordshire and Essex are working together to get views on research across the NHS and would very much like to hear from as many people as possible.

This is part of a nationwide project to make sure research is accessible to all so that it is the very best it can be.

If you are interested in taking part in a focus group or one-to-one interview email Healthwatch or call on 01707 275978.

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Tell us what you think about community services

The Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB) want to ensure the delivery of high quality and safe services meet the needs of all. 

Over the past four to five years, a number of community healthcare services have been provided locally in south and west Hertfordshire.

The aim has been to improve outcomes for everyone in the local area by providing care closer to home, reduce waiting times and ensure hospital capacity continues to be available for more complex conditions.

You are invited to join us at a virtual session on Wednesday 8 March, from 10am to 11.30am, to hear your views and feedback to help plan the next steps.

The ICB particularly wants to hear what you think about:

  • Community Ear, Nose and Throat Service
  • Community Gynaecology Service
  • GP Direct Access Ultrasound Service
  • Community Musculoskeletal Service
  • Community Ophthalmology Service
  • Integrated Diabetes Service

It is important to get patient and carer feedback on any aspect of these community services to support planning of future local healthcare services.
If you would like to attend the virtual session  email Heather Aylward and more information will be sent nearer the time.

If you or someone you know has experience of any of these services please email your feedback to Heather Aylward, especially if you unable to attend.
This session will be recorded and available to view at a later date. 

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Events in the community
The latest on hospital development in west Herts

The latest update from West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals Trust was released this week with the latest on its hospital redevelopment programme.
The newsletter recaps the busy start to the year, including visits from Steve Barclay MP, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, our Integrated Care Board’s Chair Paul Burstow, and most recently, health minister Will Quince MP.
Later in the update, you will hear more about a partnership approach towards to a model of care at Hemel Hempstead Hospital, and be introduced to the Trust’s new Chief Redevelopment Officer.
Catch up on the team’s news in full by reading the Blueprint newsletter online.
To receive the update straight into your inbox when it's released each month, email the Redevelopment team to subscribe.

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Latest health webinars will focus on varicose veins and diabetes

Two free webinars this month will again be looking at important health issues.

The Herts and West Essex Diabetes Support Group will look at how mental health is affected by the condition on Tuesday 21 February while the monthly series of Health Matters webinars will focus on varicose veins on Thursday 23 February.

The session on 21 February, from 6pm to 7pm, will be particularly helpful if you have diabetes and are struggling with aspects of the condition and feel overwhelmed and stressed as a result. 

You can sign up for the online webinar, and get more information.

The varicose veins webinar, from 6.30pm to 7.30pm on Tuesday 23 February, will offer the rare opportunity to hear from leading vascular consultant Mr Jeremy Crane.

He will speak about the causes and treatment of varicose veins and offer advice on how to minimise the chances of complications from Varicose Veins, and what to do if the worst happens.

Visit the eventbrite website to register for the webinar.

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