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

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

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.”

Be Clear on Cancer campaign launched in York to raise awareness that ongoing heartburn can be a sign of cancer

Latest data reveals 62 people in York are diagnosed with cancers of the stomach or oesophagus (gullet) each year.

Be clear on cancer
York is supporting the latest ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign that has launched this week urging people to visit their doctor if they have heartburn most days for three weeks or more, as this can be a sign of oesophageal or stomach cancer.

York’s Youth Smoking Data Released

New figures released this week show that estimate smoking rates among young people in York are above the national average.

Commissioned by Public Health England and NICE, and modelled by the University of Portsmouth and the University of Southampton, the figures are estimates of youth smoking rates for every local authority, ward and local NHS level – based on factors known to predict young people smoking.

The data will help City of York Council and other organisations in the city to respond to levels of smoking and is available on PHE’s Local Health website.

The council welcomes Public Health England’s ambition is to reduce smoking rates among young people to secure a tobacco-free generation. In York an estimated 14.54% of 15 year olds are regular or occasional smokers, compared to the national estimate of 12.71%.

The figures mirror adult smoking rates which are falling less rapidly in some areas, with smoking rates considerably higher in deprived communities. Smoking is the single biggest cause of the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest in England.

Nearly eight million people still smoke, with 90% having started before the age of 19.  There are 28,888 people who smoke in York.

City of York Council’s Acting Director of Public Health, Julie Hotchkiss said: “Stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health, but not starting smoking at all is even better.  If we can stop young people starting smoking before the age of 19 then they stand the best chance of enjoying the health, social and financial benefits of a smoke-free life.

“Although the national modelling shows the number of 15-year-olds who smoke often or regularly in York to be higher than average, last summer’s survey of Year 10 students showed the rates were about in line with the national average.  However City of York Council is aiming to prevent all children from taking up smoking in the next few years, to create a smoke-free generation.”

With the help of North Yorkshire and York’s NHS Smokefree Service “New You”, you’re up to four times more likely to quit for good.  For help to quit smoking telephone 0300 303 1603.

Public meeting hears reasons for York hospital A&E crisis

“Not a funding issue”

York hospital amb

The health committee last night received an update on problems at A&E.  It can be heard on the video of the meeting after 41 minutes

There was a 6% overall increase in patient presentations over recent weeks

Problems were prompted by an 80% increase in viral conditions with increased risks of pneumonia particularly in elderly people.

The issue was not a funding problem.

The hospital says that it is impossible to provide more beds as there are not enough doctors and nurses to staff additional wards.

The hospital is looking to recruit overseas to fill vacancies.

The 111 service locally is provided by ambulance service in York and is performing well. 

Bed blocking (delayed discharges) in not a major factor in the A&E crisis in York. There are vacant spaces in some local elderly person’s homes. There are staffing shortages in this sector as well.

A trades union representative suggested “upskilling” paramedics to deal with more potential patients at the scene on an incident (although this seemed somewhat irrelevant given the advice provided on the causes of the increased demand)

Councillors rightly expressed concern that any increase in the City’s population as a result of Labours “Big City” Local Plan population growth proposals could only exacerbate the pressures on the hospital.

The issue was considered at yesterdays meeting at the request of Nick Love , the City’s prospective Liberal Democrat MP.

A meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Board takes place on 21st January. It is also open to the public