York backing World Pancreatic Cancer Day tomorrow (Friday 13th November)

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Many people in York is supporting World Pancreatic Cancer Day on Friday 13th November which aims to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer – considered to be the little known disease – with the public.

It is estimated that 926 people around the world are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every day, with 905 people will die from the disease every day across the world.

The number of diagnoses has continued to rise but there is still very low awareness of pancreatic cancer with over 60% of people surveyed recently knowing almost nothing about the disease.

World Pancreatic Cancer Day’s hopes to bring much-needed focus and attention to the disease, especially the need for increased symptom awareness and greater investment into research.  World Pancreatic Cancer Day encourages everyone to “see purple” on 13 November by wearing purple, lighting landmarks purple, using purple on social media channels etc.

City of York Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Councillor Carol Runciman said: “Raising awareness is the first step to action.  The more people who know about pancreatic cancer, the greater the opportunity and need will be for more research and for the development of better resources for those facing the disease.”

Pancreatic cancer is considered to be one of the deadliest cancers, with just two to 10% of those diagnosed surviving five years.  In the UK 71% of people cannot name a simple symptom of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is sometimes referred to as a “silent cancer” because the early symptoms are often quite vague.

  • Classic pancreatic cancer symptoms can include:
  • Painless jaundice (yellow skin/eyes, dark urine).
  • Weight loss which is significant and unexplained
  • Abdominal pain which is new and significant.

Other possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer:
• Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to the back which is new, significant and persistent that is relieved by leaning forward
• Back pain
• Diabetes which is new-onset and not associated with weight gain
• Vague indigestion or abdominal discomfort
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Pain when eating

Not everyone will have all of these symptoms.  For example, those who have a tumour in the body or tail of the pancreas are unlikely to have painless jaundice.  All of these symptoms can have other causes, and there is not yet a reliable and easy test for pancreatic cancer.

If you have any of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer visit your GP.

For more information about World Pancreatic Cancer Day, visit www.worldpancreaticcancerday.org

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.

Drop in child poverty in York

Public Health England has this week released Child Health Profiles for City of York Council, which provide a snapshot of child health in the city.

Child Labour

Fewer children living in poverty

The key findings from the report show that the health and wellbeing of children in York is generally better than the England average and that children and young people under the age of 20 make up 21.7% of the city’s population.

The profiles help City of York Council to work in partnership to improve health in the local area. The profiles contain data on a wide range of issues about and affecting child health, from levels of childhood obesity, MMR immunisation rates, teenage pregnancy and underage drinking, to hospital admissions and levels of child poverty. Each profile provides two types of information: background demographic information about the children in each area; and comparative analysis with other local authorities across the country.

The data shows that in 2013 there were 2045 live births in York, which saw the number of children in the city aged between 0 and 4 remain at 10,700 and the number of children aged 0 to 19 increase to 44,000.  The findings project the number of children in York aged 0 to 19 by 2020 will be 44,900.

According to the child population section the life expectancy at birth of boys and girls in York is 79.4 and 83.5 respectively.   The regional figures for Yorkshire and Humber are 78.5 and 82.2 and nationally 79.4 and 83.1 putting York above the regional and national average.

The level of child poverty in York is better than the England average with 11.7% of children aged under 16 living in poverty, a fall of 1.4% since the last Child Health Profiles data was released.

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.”