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Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB Update

Friday 16 December 2022


Shelves of a pharmacy filled with medication
Pharmacy opening times and staying well over the festive period

Christmas is approaching and as we get ready to enjoy the festivities, it’s a good idea to make sure we know where we can get medical advice if we feel a bit under the weather.

GP practices will be closed over the Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays, but some pharmacists will be open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and the Bank Holidays to offer health advice and treatment for a variety of minor illnesses and conditions.

Visit the NHS website for a full list of pharmacies that will be open over the Christmas and New Year period near you. 

Find out more about what you need to do if you need to order prescription medication before Christmas on our website, and what to consider when stocking up your medicine cabinet this winter.

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Ten year strategy agreed for a healthier Hertfordshire and west Essex

An ambitious 10 year plan to tackle the root causes of ill health in Hertfordshire and west Essex was agreed yesterday (Thursday 15 December).

In a public meeting at County Hall in Hertford, the board of the new Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Partnership agreed the strategy, which has six priorities for action over the next decade. 

The Partnership’s 28 member organisations represent voluntary and community groups, district, borough and county councils, the patient voice organisation Healthwatch, the police, social care providers and NHS organisations.  They all have an important part to play in making Hertfordshire and west Essex a healthy and safe place to live and work for its 1.6 million population.

Together, they have pledged to take action to:

  • give every child the best start in life
  • support our communities and places to be healthy and sustainable
  • support our residents to maintain healthy lifestyles
  • enable our residents to age well and support people living with dementia
  • improve support to people living with life-long conditions, long term health conditions, physical disabilities, and their families
  • improve our residents’ mental health and outcomes for those with learning disabilities and autism.
Read the full article, as well as a link to the 10 year strategy and papers for the Integrated Partnership Board meeting.

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Image depicting mental health with foam head and jigsaw puzzle as brain
Mental health support in the run up to Christmas
Much is said about the joy of Christmas – but it can also be a very difficult time for many of us, particularly if you suffer from poor mental health.

Pressures of the festive season and the cost of living can worsen these feelings.

If you are worried about your mental health in the lead up to this Christmas and new year, you are not alone.

There is a range of help and support available across Hertfordshire and west Essex.

If you are worried about your mental health, it's important to speak to someone as soon as possible.

There is help available across Hertfordshire and west Essex: you can self refer to without going to your GP or a mental health professional.

You can download this leaflet which includes local support in Hertfordshire, including how to contact them and when they are available.

There are also a number of services available in west Essex. You can also visit the Essex County Council website for details of support services.

If you think you are experiencing a mental health crisis, which may risk harm to yourself or others, you can call NHS 111 and choose option 1. You will be put through to professionals who will help you, any time of the day or night.

If someone needs help in an emergency or you have hurt yourself – call 999.

The Samaritans is also there for anyone struggling – every single day of the year. Call them free on 116 123, email or visit the Samaritans website to find your nearest branch.

If you need help or support for a child or young person, aged up to 18 or 25 if they are SEND, visit the SET CAMHS website for west Essex or get information for support services in Hertfordshire. There is also a mental health helpline which is available 24/7.

For more information on looking after your mental health, and support services in Hertfordshire and west Essex, visit our website.

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A graphic of a man named Ben who is a paramedic pointing at his phone with the NHS App on it. With a quote reading I use the NHS App as it's so quick to book GP surgery appointments or order repeat prescription end quote.

Have you downloaded the NHS App on your phone?

The NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet.

You can use the free NHS App to:   

The app is owned by the NHS so you know your personal data is always secure. You can download it from Google Play and Apple app stores.

The exact functions you’ll have on your app will depend on what your GP surgery has ‘switched on’ at the moment. But in any case, you will have access to core online services like the A-Z symptom checker, NHS 111 online, and repeat prescription ordering in one easy to find place.

Find out more about the NHS App, including help and support with your account on the NHS website.

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Someone receiving a vaccination
Get your child's MMR vaccine

Measles, mumps, and rubella are highly infectious and can easily spread between unvaccinated people. These diseases can lead to serious problems such as meningitis and hearing loss and it is important to make sure your child is up to date with both doses of their MMR vaccines to offer them the best protection.

Children are given the first dose at the age of 12 months and the second dose is given at around 3 years and 4 months, before starting school, however anyone who has still not had theirs can also catch up no matter their age.  The MMR vaccine is safe, quick, and free and can be booked with your GP. 

Letters from the NHS have been sent out to parents, so look out for yours informing you if your child is due their vaccine.

Further information on the vaccine and how to book can be found online at

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Nurses from West Herts Teaching Hospital Trust next to the NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award logo
Superb support for international nurses and midwives in west Hertfordshire

The quality of care and support provided for international nurses and midwives joining West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust has been commended with a national award.

The teaching trust, which runs Watford General, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans City Hospitals, received the NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award for its commitment to providing high-quality pastoral support.

The safe arrival, induction, and education of new people joining the trust is a number one priority for the international recruitment and corporate nursing teams.

In 2022, West Herts welcomed 180 overseas nurses and midwives. Each individual is supported from the moment they join West Herts. They are greeted with a personalised welcome card from the chief nurse, get help in finding accommodation and receive an induction pack with information about the area and the trust.

With huge congratulations to the Trust, you can read the full details of the award and the reaction to it.

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Someone in a jumper holding a mug
Warm Hubs in Hertfordshire and West Essex

Due to increases in the cost of living, we want to ensure that we are sharing helpful ways to help save and with heating your home becoming increasingly more expensive, warm hubs are a great way to stay warm whilst keeping costs low.

Hertfordshire Country Council have created a helpful map with the locations of 80 local warm hubs, on this page you can also register your own warm space for others to find.

Essex Libraries are hosting the Warm Welcomes scheme to encourage people to use their local libraries this winter. As well as providing a safe place to keep warm libraries will be offering hot drinks, social spaces, and a range of activities such as cooking demonstrations and homework clubs.

Visit the Essex Libraries website to find out more about what your local library is doing, or to sign up to be a Warm Welcomes volunteer.

The Winter Warmth and Warm Spaces Fund also aims to support more warm and welcoming spaces for residents this winter. Organisations including charities and community groups can apply for a grant of up to £1000 to help create and maintain these spaces.

Find out more and apply for the Winter Warmth and Welcome Spaces Fund on the Essex Association of Local Councils' website.

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A photo of people holding hands
What support are you getting as an unpaid carer?
If you’re an unpaid carer, take part in a survey from your local Healthwatch and share your experiences on the support available through your GP practice.

We know some people are not registered as a carer with their GP practice, and know even for those who are, the level of support received can still vary.

By taking part in your local survey, you will help better support GP practices identify unpaid carers and provide the support you are entitled to and deserve.

If you are an unpaid carer living in Hertfordshire and over the age of 18, please complete this survey from Healthwatch Hertfordshire which will take 5-10 minutes. It doesn’t matter whether your caring responsibilities are registered with your practice. It closes on 4 January. For more information, visit the Healthwatch Hertfordshire websiteemail the team or call them on 01707 275978. 

If you live in west Essex, please take part in this survey from Healthwatch Essex which closes on 23 January and visit the Healthwatch Essex website for more information. Alternatively, you can email the team or call them on 0300 500 1895. 

Do please help share these surveys with anyone who lives in our area with caring responsibilities.

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Events in the community
Viewpoint logo with tagline together we can influence change
Mental Health Get Together - Festive Special – 21 December

For some, the Christmas and New Year period is a time of year filled with joy and dreams of what Santa will be leaving under the tree. Viewpoint, the Welwyn Garden City based mental health charity, knows that the extra pressure that this festive period brings can have a major impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Whether you’re feeling alone or left out whilst all around you seems happy when you are not, or maybe you usually enjoy Christmas, but are not able to celebrate it how you would normally like. Whatever the reason, Viewpoint is here for you.

Viewpoint’s festive edition of their online Get Together forum will be held on Wednesday 21st December from 1pm to 2.30pm and will focus on what support is available within Hertfordshire to get you through Christmas and the start of 2023.

Viewpoint's very own Kat Clark will be providing her yearly guide to services and activities running or open over the Christmas period and there will be an opportunity for attendees to share the tips that help them cope and to share what may be available in your area over the next month and into the new year.

No matter your views, thoughts or feelings of the time of year – all are welcome!

You can book your place now on the Viewpoint website.

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A picture with the Proformance Pathways information with dates of the free football camps for kids on free school meals, Hemel and Sawbridgeworth dates are 22, 23, 28, 30 December and 3 and 4 January. Dates in Aylesbury and Slough are 21, 22, 23, 28, 30 December and 3 January
ProFormance Pathways free football camps for children recieving free school meals

ProFormance Pathways are kicking off their holiday, activity and food programme across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire next week!

Over 950 places across seven dates with all children receiving a free hot meal and enrichment activities alongside four or more hours of physical activity to get you kicking through the festive period and into the new year.

Places can be booked all the way up until the day of the activities, so e-mail for more details on the programme if your child is receives free school meals.

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