Beware Of Giant Hogweed!

Elena Black writes:

Please beware of the plant Giant Hogweed – it can cause very nasty blisters, like the dome-like one on my leg in the picture. There’s a 2p coin next to it for comparison . I’m not sure where it was, as  I do a lot of walking for exercise.  Fortunately it does not hurt but looks very nasty. Wikipedia describes it like this:

“The sap of the giant hogweed plant is phototoxic; when the contacted skin is exposed to sunlight or to ultraviolet rays, it can cause phytophotodermatitis (severe skin inflammations). Initially, the skin colours red and starts itching. Blisters form as it burns within 48 hours. They form black or purplish scars that can last several years. Hospitalisation may be necessary.[9] The presence of minute amounts of sap in the eyes can lead to temporary or even permanent blindness.[15][better source needed]

These reactions are caused by the presence of linear derivatives of furanocoumarin in its leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds. These chemicals can get into the nucleus of the epithelial cells, forming a bond with the DNA, causing the cells to die. The brown colour is caused by the production of melanin by furocoumarins.

Authorities advise that children should be kept away from giant hogweed, that protective clothing, including eye protection, should be worn when handling or digging it, and that if skin is exposed, the affected area should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and the exposed skin protected from the sun for several days.”

By Fritz Geller-Grimm - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Fritz Geller-Grimm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

support pharmacies

A Rayleigh Pharmacist Talks To The Echo

From the Echo last Friday:

…..Philip Hodgkinson, from the Grange Pharmacy, in London Road, Rayleigh, has launched a petition to gather support for a national campaign led by the National Pharmacy Association.

More than 300 customers have signed his petition, which agues more pressure will be put on GPs and hospitals if community pharmacies are forced to close.

Mr Hodgkinson said: “Doctors time is so critically overloaded that pharmacies are even more popular. When GP surgeries are closed, pharmacies are the first port of call.

“I think a lot of the ones in Rayleigh are quite well used, so I hope they all stay, but you never know. About 3,000 are under threat, it’s the complete randomness of it all that’s quite chilling.”

According to the Department of Health, funding for community pharmacies is set to fall from £2.8bn to £2.63bn from October, as part of the drive to find £22bn of savings across the health service by 2020. …

support pharmacies

A Follow-Up On Pharmacies

Following our post earlier this week about supporting local pharmacies, the Guardian has a lengthy article about what’s allegedly happened to Boots after it was bought by a guy who lives in Monte Carlo. Key sentences:

Asked how often “commercial incentives or targets have compromised the health, safety or wellbeing of patients and the public, or the professional judgment of staff”, more than 60% of Boots pharmacists said that was the case half the time or more. That compares to 52% of chemists at other chains.

Support your local pharmacies!

support pharmacies

Support Our Local Pharmacies

In another doctrinaire move, the government is  thinking about cutting the number of pharmacies in the UK. The website explains:

What is this all about, in a nutshell?

The Department of Health (DH) has indicated it believes that there are up to 3000 too many pharmacies in England.  At the same time, they have proposed a series of policy measures which would divert investment from local pharmacies to other care settings or to online suppliers of medicines.  Beyond this, there is little detail about the Government’s plans.  Nevertheless, it is easy to see that the current direction of policy, if not challenged, will lead to a serious fracturing of the pharmacy network in England.

Why are people saying that the Government’s proposals are wrong?

The Government is conducting a dangerous experiment which will see pharmacies close, thereby reducing people’s access to medicines and healthcare advice, and putting extra pressure on GPs and hospitals.   The proposals put at risk a part of the health system that holds the key to solving many of its problems. Patients would be the biggest losers.  There are particular concerns about the risks to the most vulnerable people and the most deprived communities, where local pharmacies are often (literally) a lifeline….

We have some very good small pharmacies in our district. The government is wrong to threaten any of them.

Find out how to help the campaign in support of local pharmacies here.

blue rosette

Influential Tory Proposes Scrapping Retirement And Replacing Doctors With Volunteers

We don’t get too involved in national politics on onlineFOCUS, but we do keep an eye on what the other parties are doing. With Labour electing Jeremy Corbyn as their most left-wing leader in decades, some Conservative activists want to move even more extremely  in a right-wing direction.

A good guide to new Conservative thinking is “Conservative Home” , a website for Tory activists that describes itself as the “Home of Conservatism” . There’s been a couple of alarming articles recently by Henry Hill, who is described as  ” an award-winning centre-right blogger and assistant editor of ConservativeHome.”

First of all , Mr Hill proposes scrapping old age pensions:

“The entire concept of ‘a retirement’ is, after all, an artefact of the welfare system.”

and secondly replacing most doctors with volunteers:

Volunteers would receive pay, training, and legal rights to take time out of their ‘civilian’ life to work for so many weeks of the year in the NHS. This shouldn’t be impossible: the Armed Forces reserves already offer recruits the opportunity to train in a huge range of technical skills.

A larger, flexible pool of ‘physician’s assistants’ would reduce the NHS’s dependence on full-time professionals. This would not only ease immediate wage and staffing pressures, but make it easier for management to respond to future shifts in demand.

To be fair, most of the readers of the website treated his second suggestion with some ridicule:

Putting aside differences about how best to deliver healthcare or the current dispute with the BMA, we really need to stop embarrassing ourselves by talking with such certainty about issues that we understand so poorly. The idea that some flexible pool of physician assistant reservists might be called upon to leave their day jobs and perform appendectomies, insert central lines, start dialysis, run cardiac arrest calls, etc is frankly laughable. I really hope that Jeremy Hunt is being advised by more sensible heads.

But this gives a worrying insight into the mentality behind some of those wearing blue rosettes.

Hat-Tip : Pride’s Purge

surgeon mask

Black Alert At Southend Hospital

From the Southend Hospital Website today:

After a busy weekend Southend University Hospital has this morning elevated its status to black alert.

To assist the hospital in dealing with the situation, the trust would like to remind members of the public to only visit the accident and emergency department if they are seriously unwell or critically injured.

Choking, chest pain, blacking out, blood loss and fractures are all considered emergencies, and those with symptoms like this should not hesitate to visit their local A&E department.

Sue Hardy, chief executive at Southend University Hospital, said: “The hospital is currently extremely busy dealing both with the high number of patients coming through our doors and the number of very ill patients who need to be admitted to hospital.

“The emergency department is very busy and we have to warn patients that those attending with ‘non-urgent’ conditions will wait much longer than usual as patients are prioritised according to how unwell they are.

“We would like to remind anyone who is unsure of the best course of action to always ring NHS 111 for health advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or to speak with your GP or pharmacist.”

This week it is also half term and NHS England offers the following top tips for keeping well during the school holiday:

• Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet – most minor ailments can be dealt with at home.

• If you are unwell and you’re not sure where to go, call NHS 111, a free service available 24 hours a day. They can provide clinical assessment and advice and direct you to the best health service for your ailment.

• Speak to your local pharmacist – they can recognise and resolve many common health issues

• Be mindful that sometimes symptoms can last longer than you think – sore throats can last an average of eight days

Share the Orange

We shouldn’t accept that dementia is part of ageing  – it’s a disease we can conquer

therapy for you

Therapy For You… “Take the first step to feeling better”

If you are suffering from anxiety, depression ,bereavement or loss, sleep difficulties, anger issues, obsessive compulsive disorder or phobias, there’s an initiative that might help – Therapy For You.

Have a look at their website here.

Therapy For You is part of the Department of Health’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) initiative….
….. We offer access to a range of different talking therapies, including our innovative online psychoeducational courses, face-to-face psychoeducational and group courses and offer access to sessions with Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners, Counsellors and Cognitive Behavioural Therapists. All of our treatments are offered in accordance with NHS treatment guidelines and if you decide to register with our service, you can discuss each pathway with a qualified professional.

Our services are available to anyone over the age of 18 who lives in South Essex and is not currently receiving secondary mental health care or crisis services. In particular, we can help if you’re experiencing anxiety or stress, depression, bereavement or loss, sleep difficulties, anger issues, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and many other everyday problems..

… 98.6% got help that mattered. When asked for feedback, almost all service users felt they got the help that mattered to them throughout their course of treatment…



The Voice At The Other End Of Your 999 Call

For those readers interested in the public services, the Guardian is running a series of articles allowing some of the workers in those services to write about their experiences. A good example is this one:

…. I’ve worked as an emergency medical dispatcher for 14 months. I provide telephone triage to patients, and prioritise where limited resources will go first. I assess whether someone having a heart attack needs to be seen before a person with a broken arm; neither is more or less important, but one could die. Like any NHS service, the ambulance service has to determine medical need and treat accordingly. There are simply too many people relying on the service, and not enough ambulances to help them.

Getting an address, which is imperative to finding a patient, can be one of the hardest tasks. Drink and drugs account for the majority of weekend calls. I don’t judge – lots of people enjoy a night out – but this evening I had a call from Steve, and I didn’t like Steve…

Full article here.

Market Car Park 2 78009. crop

Cllr Steptoe’s Decisions On Council Car Parks

Mike Steptoe is the affable Tory councillor for Barling and Sutton, and is the cabinet member for “Enterprise”. Which means he’s the person who makes decisions about whether to have free car parking in council car parks at Xmas, and whether to charge the NHS for using car parking spaces for breast screening or other health checks.

He’s just made the following decisions – you can download the document here.

First of all, there’s going to be the usual free parking in council car parks on Saturdays mornings in December before Christmas – the 5th, 12th and 19th. However Cllr Steptoe turned down the idea of boosting trade for the sales period by having an extra free Saturday morning after Christmas.

Secondly, there is the controversial question of whether to charge the NHS for having a breast cancer screening service in one of our car parks. The council currently charges the NHS at a reduced rate – £1066 for a four month period. The new policy is to give a fixed 75% reduction for any organisation serving the public. On this basis the NHS would pay £909 for four months.

The amounts of money are not huge, and some people will say this is a reasonable compromise. Others will say that the breast screening service is coming to benefit our residents and shouldnt be charged at all. As a comparison, if you were an employer and a cancer screening service were offering to come to your premises free of charge and screen your employees, would you charge them for taking up space in your company car park?


New Application Just In – 91 Dwellings And A Replacement Care Home Off London Road

On the latest list, so plenty of time before this gets to committee:

Parish Rayleigh Town Council
Ward Sweyne Park

Demolition Of Existing Care Home And All Other Buildings,
Erection Of 91 Dwellings Comprising 34no. Three Bed Houses,
24no. Four Bed Houses, 8no. Five Bed Houses, 7no. One Bed
Flats, and 18no.Two Bed Flats, Construction Of Replacement Part
Single and Part Two Storey 13 Bedroom Care Home, Associated
Parking and Landscaping, Stopping Up Of Existing Access, and
Improvement Of Existing Access Onto London Road.
Location: Timber Grove London Road Rayleigh


“The 5 reasons Addenbrookes really ‘failed’ – and what it means for the whole NHS “

A informed resident highlighted for us this article on the OURNHS website – here’s an extract:

So where did it all go wrong?

Not just for Addenbrookes – damned by the CQC for understaffing – but for the three quarters of Trusts this week exposed as facing similar problems?

The Tory led Coalition government inherited an NHS in 2010 that had the highest ever satisfaction ratings and the lowest ever waiting times.

Under the guise of ‘deficit reduction’, David Cameron promptly set about shrinking public services and creating a ‘permanently…leaner state’, which he admitted in 2013 was an ideological project that would continue regardless of the global economic situation. It is all about selling off the public services we are proud of to his friends in the City.

Firstly Cameron and Osborne imposed homeopathic increases to the NHS budget year on year.  These NHS budget increases were below inflation – so in essence, cuts. You can’t maintain a decent health care system with below inflation rises – something has to give.

Second the Tories imposed the disastrous reorganisation on the NHS, the Health and Social Care Act 2012. This put earlier pro-market New Labour policies on steroids, and diverted vast amounts of both energy and cash away from frontline services, into running a the NHS as an expensively bureaucratic ‘marketplace’.

Thirdly Chancellor George Osborne slashed social care spending by up to 40% and then blamed the local authorities who had no choice but to cut services. Patients were ‘stuck’ in hospital beds unable to be discharged because the social care provision had been cut to the bone in the community.

Fourthly Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged Trusts to move to a ‘paperless NHS’, as part of the Tories’ ‘digital revolution’. Last year Addenbrookes – the first to adopt US firm Epic’s ‘e-hospital’ system – was being hailed as ‘highlighting how eHealth can have a transformative effect on patient experience and outcomes’. But the system was a disaster – a report in November revealed that A&E performance had dropped by 20% since it was implemented.

And lastly the Tories imposed year on year pay cuts to every NHS staff member, even as workloads increased due to frontline staff shortages and time wasted on ‘market’ paperwork. To justify their attacks, Tory politicians vilified doctors as lazy and greedy, and nurses as cruel and uncaring. Unsurprisingly, morale plummeted. It was as if they were punishing nurses, porters, midwives for the misdeeds of the bankers, who carried on enjoying their multi-million pound bonuses.

Right now, they are attempting to impose a pay cut of up to 40% on junior doctors – which looks like it’s about to prompt a massive brain drain of doctors at the start of their career. Morale has never been so low as it is amongst our NHS doctors….

Full article here.