York launches Breathe 2025 campaign to inspire a smokefree generation

City of York Council is urging people and organisations across York to sign up and support Breathe 2025, a new campaign to inspire children to grow up smoke-free and protected from health harms caused by tobacco.
click to view video

click to view video

While the region has the highest adult smoking prevalence in England (20.1% compared to an England average of 18%), only one in eight 15-year-olds smoke and the proportion of young smokers is dropping.

Within the next decade there could be a generation of children that don’t smoke.    .

City of York Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Councillor Carol Runciman said: “We want children who have started school this year to be the pioneers of a smokefree generation: today’s five year olds can be smokefree at 15 when they are preparing for their GCSEs and so can all the year groups following them.

“They can be smokefree when they leave school or college and as adults. Breathe 2025 is about how all of us can inspire and help them to make that happen.”
The campaign is being run by a collaboration of partners across Yorkshire and the Humber, including City of York Council and Public Health England.

People and organisations are being asked to show their support by going to the campaign website or Facebook page and signing up to one or more simple, practical actions. This could be pledging to watch and share the Breathe 2025 video, or promising to display a Breathe 2025 poster.  There are a range of simple actions to choose from, as individuals or on behalf of an organisation such as a school, GP or local business.

Councillor Runciman continues: “Giving children and young people the best start in life is a priority for City of York Council, parents, family members and many other organisations and communities in York – and not smoking is a great start so please go to the Breathe 2025 website and show your support.”

City of York Council’s Interim Director of Public Health, Sharon Stoltz said: “Evidence suggests that if young people don’t start using tobacco by the age of 26 they will almost certainly never start, so we have a great opportunity here to transform the health of our region and we can do it within the next 10 years.

“It is estimated that smoking in York costs society around £50.1m annually and smoking breaks cost businesses in York £24.2m each year.  Around one in two smokers die from a smoking-related illness.  If we can prevent young people from smoking that’s not just an investment in their health as individuals, it’s an investment in a healthier future for everyone.”

The Breathe 2025 website is at www.Breathe2025.org.uk

York Alzheimer’s Month

World alzheimersSeptember 2015 marks the fourth global World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia. It’s estimated that there are 665,000 people in England living with dementia and around 21 million who have a close friend or family member with dementia.. In York it is thought there are 2,700 people currently living with dementia; a figure which is expected to rise to 3,200 by 2020.

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Month 2015 is Remember Me. People all around the world are being encouraged to learn to spot the signs of dementia, but also not to forget about loved ones who are living with dementia, or those who may have passed away.

Councillor Carol Runciman, Executive member for Adult Social Care and Health, City of York Council, said: “Dementia touches so many people’s lives, whether they themselves live with the disease, or are close to someone who does. World Alzheimer’s Month provides an opportunity for us all to think about what we can do to make life easier for people living with dementia, whether that’s signing up to become a ‘dementia friend’ or just taking the time to help someone who may be confused whilst out shopping.”

The council is one of a number of organisations working together to make York a Dementia Friendly City; a place which is accessible and welcoming for people living with dementia and their friends and carers.

For more information on World Alzheimer’s Month visit www.alz.co.uk/world-alzheimers-month. For more details about how to become a Dementia Friend visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk/ or for more information on local support for people with dementia visit www.york.gov.uk

York children urge to “shake up” fitness regime

Following the success of last year, City of York Council is again supporting the 10 Minute Shake Up campaign launched by Change4Life and Disney, to help encourage the city’s children to get active.

10 minute shake up

The 10 Minute Shake Up campaign uses a bit of Disney magic to inspire children to reach the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day, with fun, manageable 10 minute bursts of exercise.

This year, 10 Minute Shake Up has lots of new and exciting 10 minute games and activities for children to play as part of four Disney teams: Big Hero 6, Frozen, Monsters and Toy Story. Children can help their chosen Disney team win by taking part in as many Shake Ups as they can each day throughout the summer. Every 10 minute burst of activity can make a real difference and helps towards children getting the 60 minutes they need each day.

Those who sign up for 10 Minute Shake Up will receive a free pack containing inspiration, ideas and tools to help children on their way to achieving their recommended 60 minutes of activity per day.  Packs include a fantastic team wristband* with timer, activity cards, a wild card for children to invent their own Shake Ups, a team poster and stickers.   

*while stocks last

Councillor Carol Runciman, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health said: “This is a fantastic initiative to encourage children and families to get active. Increased physical activity can lead to better academic achievement, with improved attention span, behaviour and self-confidence. I would encourage people across the city to sign up”.

City of York Council’s Acting Director of Health and Wellbeing, Julie Hotchkiss said: “In children physical activity is essential for mental and emotional health as well as physical health and a reduced risk of developing chronic conditions in the future.”
To sign up visit Change4Life and register for a free pack which is full of ideas for games and activities to keep your children active this summer.

Schools take water safety action in Drowning Prevention Week

Schools and youth groups across York will be working to keep pupils safe around water during Drowning Prevention Week (June 20-28).


Using the River Safety Resource pack launched this spring by City of York Council, schools have a wealth of information, ideas and contacts to hand to share the message that taking care near water can save lives.

Developed in consultation with the city’s multi-partner River Safety Group including Safer York Partnership, the Canal and River Trust and emergency services, the pack also supports the National Curriculum’s new requirements for building water safety and aquatic skills.

The council is working with Ebor Lifesaving Club to deliver water safety initiatives during and outside the Royal Lifesaving Society’s annual week of action. Primary schools and youth groups in York have approached the club or are using the packs themselves to raise awareness of the dangers that open water pose.

York NHS responds to independent criticisms

Local services labelled as “requires improvement”

Bootham park

The York Council will debate on Wednesday a report on the progress being made in addressing failings in NHS services in the City.

The report responds to a Care Quality Commission review  last year in which 70% of the areas rated were judged to be ‘Good’, 25% as ‘Requires Improvement’ and 5% as ‘Inadequate’.

5 areas for immediate improvement were identified as;

  • Safety and suitability of premises
  • Systems for identifying, handling and responding to complaints
  • Ensuring staff receive appropriate training, supervision and appraisals
  • Ensuring there are enough suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff at all times to meet patients’ needs
  • Eliminating mixed sex accommodation

A report to the Councils Health Scrutiny Committee, details the changes that the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was required to make and progress against targets.

The Trust claims to have achieved 96% of its improvement targets

NB. The same meeting will discuss a report on the direct payments made to individuals in York for care services. The Council has implemented a policy where those who opt for direct payments receive the payments to a personal account. There had been some concerns raised when payments had been made to third party organisations.

York Council plans for “heatwave”

The York Council has issued advice on dealing with a forecast “heatwave” This is what they say;

The council is encouraging residents to think about how it may impact on their health and that of their friends and family.

The council works to the nationally operated Heatwave Plan that includes a Heat-Health Watch alert system which operates from 1 June to 15 September and is based on Met Office forecasts and data.  This system triggers levels of response from the NHS, government and public health systems and communicate risks.    

The Heat-Health Watch system comprises five main levels (0-4) ranging from year round planning for warm weather to the declaration of a major incident due to a prolonged heatwave being experienced.  

The Heatwave Alert system is based on temperature thresholds where there is a 15-20% increased risk of a heatwave being declared.  For York the trigger criteria for declaring a heatwave are 29/15/29C (Day/Night/Day).   

York Parents Urged to Ensure Children are Vaccinated

City of York Council is calling on parents to ensure their children get all the appropriate vaccinations and is highlighting the potential risks being placed on children who are not vaccinated.

flu shotAlthough immunisation rates are generally good in York (92.3% had their full MMR vaccines – data: NHS England) recent research shows that “letting nature run its course” by allowing childhood infections to build immunity is a poor, and possibly unsafe choice.

Recent research has shown that a natural infection by measles in a child has the effect of resetting the immunity of the child back to that of a newborn infant.  All the immune memory, which we rely on to protect us, is destroyed.  The measles virus kills white blood cells that have a “memory” of past infections and therefore provide immunity to them.  It had been thought that these cells bounce back because new ones appear following recovery.  However, recent research in monkeys has shown that these new memory cells only remember measles itself.

In other research, a team analysed child mortality records from the UK, America and Denmark before and after the measles vaccination was available.  The data showed that the number of children who died of infectious diseases was linked to the number of measles cases there had been in the two or three years previously.  The duration of the so called “immune amnesia” is similar to the time it takes for new born babies to build up a natural immunity; this suggests that measles resets children’s immunity to that of a newborn.

City of York Council’s Interim Consultant in Public Health, Dr Sohail Bhatti said: “This research shows the importance of getting our children vaccinated and the implications if we don’t.  I would urge parents in York to do the best by their children and ensure they receive the MMR vaccine to protect them against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.

“If children are not vaccinated against measles they run a much higher chance of getting the disease which means their immune memory could be destroyed.  They are then more likely to get other diseases when the symptoms and consequences can be much more severe.”

For more information about measles and the MMR vaccine visit www.nhs.uk

Smokers are 70% more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety

On the build up to this year’s No Smoking Day (March 11th) new research has been published that shows that smokers have a 70% increased risk of anxiety and depression when compared with non-smokers, despite the commonly held perception that lighting up is a stress reliever.

Image result for No smoking day photos

Interestingly, levels of anxiety and depression reported by long-term ex-smokers were indistinguishable from people who have never smoked and much lower than current smokers. This suggests that quitting smoking could help people combat anxiety and depression and improve mental health.

Council encourages people in York to act FAST if they experience stroke symptoms

City of York Council is lending its support to the annual ‘Act FAST’ campaign, which highlights the common symptoms of stroke and mini strokes and encourages people to call 999 if they notice the symptoms in others or experience them themselves.


Since the Act FAST campaign launched in 2009, an additional 38,600 people have got to hospital within the vital three-hour window meaning that stroke sufferers receive the immediate medical treatment required. This not only results in a greater chance of better recovery, but since the campaign launch over 4,000 fewer people have become disabled as a result of a stroke.

A mini stroke has similar symptoms to a full stroke, except that these symptoms last for a much shorter amount of time. Without immediate treatment, around one in five of those who experience a mini stroke will go on to have a full stroke within a few days.

Early intervention following a mini stroke can greatly reduce the risk of having another stroke.

However, while 59% of people in England cite stroke as one of the top three conditions they are concerned about behind cancer, new research reveals that less than half (45%) would call 999 if they experienced the symptoms of a mini stroke.

The campaign urges people to Act FAST if they notice any of the following symptoms, even if they disappear within a short space of time:

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred? If they notice any of these symptoms it is
  • Time – time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs.

For more information about stroke and the Act FAST campaign visit http://www.nhs.uk/actfast/Pages/stroke.aspx

Life expectancy for men worsens in York

Recently published figures show a differing picture for life expectancy at 65-years-old for men and women in York.

Life expectancy is one of the longest standing measures of health status in England and the first official life tables were published in 1839.  Since its inception life expectancy has been used to highlight variations in mortality experience between geographical regions of the country.

Life expectancy for men at 65-years-old in York in 2007-2009 was 18.9 years and for the period 2011-2013 this has fallen by half a year to 18.4.  The UK life expectancy figures for 65-year-old men in 2008 and 2012 were 17.6 and 18.5 respectively so in effect, the rest of the UK has caught up with York.

Life expectancy for women at 65-years-old in York in 2007-2009 was 21.1 years and for the period 2011-2013 this has risen by half a year to 21.6.  The UK life expectancy figures for 65-year-old women in 2008 and 2012 were 20.2 and 20.9 respectively.  So York is maintaining its better than average position.

Julie Hotchkiss, the council’s Acting Director of Public Health added: “What is particularly interesting to note is that these results show the reverse of the life expectancy gap between the well-off and the poor, where the gap is reducing in men, but increasing in women.  It could bee that more affluent women are living longer while those who are less well-off are either staying the same or worsening.  We will be watching this trend to see what we can learn.”