HEALTH NEWS – WHAT’s HAPPENING?
THE LONG HAUL: We are all trying to get on with our lives despite ever changing restrictions in the COVID-10 world- shopping, keeping in touch with family and friends , doing that much needed gardening or DIY, taking any opportunity to get some exercise or escape from the house for a short time. It is clear that our lives are likely to be circumscribed by the coronavirus for at least the next few years even if a vaccine is found in 2021. So let’s buckle down and show that the older generation knows how to deal with adversity with a smile on their face.
THE FLU SEASON IS HERE! For the past months Covid-19 has distracted from coming winter ills. This year it is even more important for older people-along with other vulnerable groups- to get their annual flu jab. Supplies are just reaching GP surgeries and pharmacies. If there is difficulty in arranging with the GP try your local pharmacy(still covered by the NHS; there should be no charge). Many deaths in winter occur through people with flu developing pneumonia. If you have not had the pneumonia vaccination enquire at your surgery- you only have one vaccination against pneumonia , not an annual injection. Alongside community flu vaccination The Cardiff and Vale Health Board has recently launched its “Beat Flu” campaign aimed at vulnerable groups and all hospital and care staff.
LIVING WITH CORONAVIRUS: My experience since March is that older people have been strict observers of public health advice on distancing , wearing of masks, avoiding large gatherings and contact with other households. Where practical and accessible use any opportunities to get fresh air –in the garden , parks ,playing fields and open spaces. Local shopping gives chance to meet people and exchange a few words. As winter approaches more of us will be bunkered down in our own houses for long periods ; telephone calls, emails and video links to family and friends will be very important for keeping social contact going (especially as travel restrictions prevent contact with families in many parts of Wales) and avoid isolation and loneliness. I am reassured that many older people have lived through the tough times of WW”, post war rationing and austerity- resilience and stoicism are hard-wired into their character. TV and radio are a godsend to people living alone providing entertainment and stimulation , as well as reading , new and old hobbies- dig out those jigsaws gathering dust under the bed.. People relying on the Red Button BBC service now know that earlier plans to close the service have been dropped, We should give ourselves permission to have a good laugh or cry – the pandemic has had the effect of damping down our emotional responses so laughing, crying and singing are wonderful ways of recharging our emotional life. We can recall the difference made to countless lives by the wartime songs , such as those sung in that haunting voice of Vera Lynn- We’ll Meet. Again and A nightingale sang in Berkely Square.
Dragon Heart Hospital: Preparations for the winter include the de-commissioning of the hospital (October/November) which was constructed at the Millenium Stadium in the early stages of the pandemic. This is timed to coincide with the construction of a “surge” hospital of 400 beds being constructed at the University Hospital of Wales. In addition at Llandough Hospital and University of Wales Hospital of Wales two COVID free units are being created so that normal operations/treatments can continue when Covid 19 admissions increase. The Health Board has an extremely difficult task this winter- dealing with the backlog of operations , any impact from flu infections, Covid 19 admissions and current new admissions .
The Major Trauma Centre at University Hospital of Wales has just been opened. It will be the central hub of a network of trauma centres in East and South Wales. The 50plus Forum was active during the consulation on where the Centre would be located and supported the strategic location of UHW. The Centre will treat patients with critical and Life threatening injuries with patients being helicoptered to the unit where necessary. Once critical care treatment is finished patients will be transferred to trauma centres nearer their homes for rehabilitation. Patients with critical burns injuries will continue to be treated at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.
BARRY HOSPITAL and COGAN WELLBEING HUB: During the pandemic there have been many changes in which hospital and community services have operated. This means that there has not been significant progress in the proposals for Barry Hospital and Cogan and the changed situation with the impact of the pandemic may neccessitate a rethink of both these initiatives.
GP SERVICES: In the spring of this year making appointments was reorganised with calls being channelled through a call centre in Barry. During the pandemic many GP consultations have been by telephone or video link ; the Health Board is encouraging this. Concerns have been expressed that a wholesale move to this pattern of consultation may be detrimental to older people in accessing medical assessment. Anecdotally many patients are experiencing long waits of up to an hour in a queue before getting through to a call handler. My own experience was of a 40 minute wait , trying to fix a flu appointment. At some stage, when pandemic pressures have hopefully , the scheme needs to be reviewed to see whether it has improved access for patients.
PARTIAL LOCKDOWN IN THE VALE: The basic message for all older people in the Vale, especially those with underlying health conditions is:
KEEP TO SOCIAL DISTANCUNG
WEAR MASKS IN SHOPS< ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT and in ENCLOSED SPACES
LIMIT CONTACT WITH OTHER HOUSEHLDS IN then HOME
AVOID LARGE GATHERINGS9 (no more than six indoors or outdoors)
DO NOT TRAVEL OUSIDE THE VALE(apart from work, education or essential health appointments)
ACCESSING HEALTH SERVICES: Patients should not hang back from using health services, whether GPs or Hospitals. For minor complaints Pharmacies can offer expert advice on the treatment of minor ailments and suitable medications’
GP Appointments – phone your usual number for the surgery; you will be put through to a call centre. Be clear about your reason for making an appointment.
A&E: For a life threatening emergency telephone 999. For urgent care do not go to A&E but phone 03001020247; the call handler will make an appointment at A&E or refer you to another service.
STAY SAFE-STAY WELL
RON WALTON:OCTOBER 2020.