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.”

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

14th January meeting will now get report on A&E from York hospital

Following our story this morning prospective York Central MP Nick Love wrote to the new (Conservative) Chair of the Council’s Health Scrutiny Board suggesting that an urgent item be added to the agenda.

He wanted the meeting to hear first hand about the problems, the causes and the potential remedies.

Credit where it is due, Cllr Paul Doughty acted promptly and has given an assurance that a hospital representative will attend the meeting. 

The meeting takes place on Wednesday, 14th January, 2015 starting at 5.30 pm. The venue is the George Hudson Board Room – 1st Floor West Offices (F045). It is open to the public and residents can register to speak.

Nick in his Email to Cllr Doughty said, 

“Given the ongoing and very public crisis covered extensively in the media regarding A&E at York Hospital, would you please consider putting the matter on the Agenda for the forthcoming Health Scrutiny Committee on 14th January.

 I believe the public interest would be well served by an update on the current situation, including current figures on the “care in community” places available to York Hospital – a lack of which may be exacerbating the problems at York Hospital. As you know – spare beds to enable admissions are created when patients are discharged and care in community places significantly help towards this situation – of which the City of York Council bears partial responsibility.

 It would help if we could know if the City of York Council is meeting its obligations and targets in this respect – so as to be of the most help possible to York Hospital in this time of unprecedented pressure on their services, including A&E.

 Hopefully you could also ensure that a representative from the hospital attends the meeting (I’m sure they would welcome the opportunity) and that they publish a factsheet indicating relative demand levels, comparing this and previous years, together with a root cause analysis of the reasons for the A&E targets not being met.”

York Council set to ignore problems in York hospital A&E department?

Residents and patients, expecting an update on problems at the York Hospital A&E department, will be disappointed when they read the agenda for the Heath Scrutiny committee taking place on 14th January.

With the York hospital performing worse than others in the region in meeting A&E targets recently, residents might have expected the committee – which now has responsibility for providing oversight of NHS issues in the City – to have received an update on the latest position.

York hospital amb

It seems that this will not be the case.

This is all the more surprising  as among the causes identified nationally for the A&E problems are lack of beds.

In turn this is blamed on lack of care in the community places for patients to move to when they can be released from hospital. The York Council bears part of the responsibility for providing such care places.

One report does reveal that the Council is still overspending its Adult Social Care budgets by over £1 million. In the main this is put down to delays in implementing the new care homes project. The Lowfields Care village – as has been reported on many occasions – is running 3 years behind schedule.

The report says, “the performance for delayed transfers of care from hospital is showing a small increase in line with the national trend

Another report comments on the financial position of the York hospital revealing a surplus of £100,000 in 2013/14 (down on the budget expectation which was £2.4 million).

 The hospitals total budget is around £480 million. The hospital is, however, required to make efficiency savings as revealed in its strategic plan.

Another part of the NHS the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group delivered a £2.12 million surplus last year.

Hopefully the chair of this scrutiny committee will respond to public concerns and ensure that an urgent item is added to the committee agenda.

This will allow an update to be given on the current position at the hospital, the reasons for any failures together with proposals which ensure that standards are achieved in the future.

York hospital resources stretched as….

…….Liberal Democrats publish plan to invest an extra £8 billion a year in NHS

LibDems NHS graphic Jan 2015

Media reports are suggesting that unprecedented numbers of people have visiting A & E departments at the York and Scarborough hospitals over the last 3 weeks, leading to unacceptable delays in treatment.

The hospital has not published any figures for patient numbers and waiting times recently and the Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for “Health” has offered no comment.

Responsibility for scrutinising the performance of the health service in York now also rests with the York Council but again no statements have been issued and no special meetings scheduled.

Some are claiming that “bed blocking” – discharges from hospitals delayed through lack of spaces in nursing homes – is partly responsible for the crisis.

The hospital management are right to ask people not to misuse A & E services when other options may address their issues.

But more facts about relative demand levels, together with the publication of up to date performance statistics, would help residents understand the problem rather more than they do now.

Liberal Democrats to increase NHS funding by £8bn by 2020

NHS funding will increased by at least £8bn per year in real terms by 2020.

The Liberal Democrats are the first party to present a plan to meet the financial needs of the NHS as set out by Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England in his Five Year Forward View.


To achieve this boost in funding by 2020/21, Liberal Democrats will do three things: