Smart Cells supporting World Cord Blood Day 2018

15th November marks World Cord Blood Day 2018. Smart Cells have chosen to support the day with a social media campaign highlighting stats and facts on cord blood and sharing personal stories of cord blood collection.

Over the past year, UK based private cord blood collection and storage company, Smart Cells, have showed their support for World Cord Blood Day, and cord blood awareness throughout the year, by focusing on the lack of education and awareness around cord blood. Stats had shown that very few parents knew that they had the opportunity to collect and store their baby’s cord blood at birth.

Due to the successes of campaigns including infographics and video content shared digitally by parental influencers and popular websites such as Netmums, awareness is now heightened around the opportunities available to store cord blood. As such, this year, Smart Cells aim to highlight further information around cord blood such as how it can help, what specifically it helps with and the future possibilities for stem cell research from cord blood collection.

They have launched a social media campaign across all their platforms – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – which uses illustrations to emphasise the following points:

·         Cord blood is a rich source of stem cells that are more pristine than those found in adults due to less exposure to illness or environmental factors.

·         Cord blood can currently treat over 80 diseases.

·         Research and clinical trials into the possibilities of cord blood are prolific – new discoveries are being made every day.

·         Cord blood is easier to collect, store and access than bone marrow.

Smart Cells will also be running an event at the Women’s Wellness Centre on Fulham Road, London, on Monday 12th November to allow people to meet Smart Cells’ Scientific Director, Dr. Ann Smith, and the Smart Cells team, alongside Mr. Keith Duncan, Consultant Obstetrician at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. This event aims to raise awareness as prospective parents can talk to the experts about the cord blood collection process and the importance of storing cord blood stem cells.

The company have spoken to parents who have been through the experience of having their cord blood collected at birth in order to share their stories about the process. Their belief is that not only is medical research key, but that ensuring parents who choose the option for cord blood collection are well-informed. There have been myths that the process can be painful, difficult or otherwise stressful, but these stories show just how quick and simple the procedure can be, especially when considering the benefits that cord blood collection and research can bring.

Laura from Laura Butler-Madden had her cord blood collected and stored with Smart Cells:

“When we were first told about Cord Blood collection and storage, we were fascinated to find out more. We researched different options and settles on Smart Cells. Many believe that stem cells hold the key to many future treatments and cures of disease. By storing our baby’s cells and tissue (which was collected at birth by the midwives), we feel we are really investing in her future and health. It’s exciting to see how stem cell therapy evolves and we are really happy we made the decision to do it.”

Katie from Mummy Snowy Owl shared her thoughts:

“I first heard about cord blood donation in the early stages of my pregnancy but I’d taken fertility drugs to help me conceive I thought I wouldn’t be able to take part and that our cord and placenta would end up in the clinical waste as normal. I discovered though that as I hadn’t had IVF I could still donate.

The process was incredibly simple. One of the team came to see me when I was in the early stages of labour and helped me complete the form and explained how the process would work after I’d given birth. Most importantly they explained that there would be no pain or risk to both the baby and myself.

After having a hard time conceiving and a traumatic labour, it felt good to be able to give back by donating my cord blood.”

Kirsty from Navigating Baby said:

“Before I had my children I did not even know you could donate your cord blood, but after hearing how it could help other children I was immediately convinced. It was as easy as filling in some paperwork. We even received a thank you card afterwards which I have kept for my 4 children. Such a lovely and simple way to maybe help another child just by being born.”

Orly Daniel spoke about her experience:

“Honestly, it’s already a bit scary having a baby, and the whole Smart Cells process was painless. From the day I booked the service, I was given a 24hour phone number to call when I was in labour to get my sample collected by the phlebotomist. Literally as I was going to hospital my husband called her, and we kept her updated and she was there at the end to collect the sample and have it sent to Smart Cells. Couldn’t be simpler.”

West Midlands campaign to stamp out modern slavery

Anti-Slavery Day, on Thursday 18th October, provides an opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Slavery is the fastest growing organised-crime in the world, hidden in plain sight, and many are unaware it exists in communities and businesses. Figures released by the National Crime Agency in 2017 stated that 116 different nationalities were victims of modern slavery here in the UK*. There are 13,000 suspected victims in the U.K. but this only scratches the surface and currently there are over 550 live policing operations in the UK relating to Modern Slavery.

The NHS, West Midlands Police, local councils across the West Midlands and the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network have been carrying out a roadshow across the West Midlands, as part of a special campaign to put a stop to the practice of modern slavery.

The roadshow has been taking place between September and October and to date nearly 800 people have been engaged with, made aware of modern slavery, how to spot the signs and have been given information on how to report any suspicious incidents. During the campaign, the roadshow has also directly resulted in five incidents being reported to the police or Modern Slavery number by members of the public concerned about potential modern slavery victims.

Today (18/10), on anti-slavery day we are in Stourbridge, in the town centre by the clock tower between 10am – 2.30pm. Come along and visit us to find out more about how you can help spot the signs of modern slavery, exploitation of vulnerable people in the West Midlands and urge people to report any suspicious.

Slavery is not a thing of the past and it is largely a hidden crime. Modern Slavery could be happening in your community and you could be coming into contact with victims without realising.

Trafficking in the West Midlands could be happening anywhere. There is no typical victim. They can be of any age, gender, class, nationality or ethnicity but are often being held against their will and forced to work with little or no pay. Modern slavery comes in many forms including sexual exploitation, being forced to commit crimes and working to pay off unrealistic debts.

We are working with our partners across the West Midlands because we know that numbers of modern slavery are increasing and this is why we need to work together with the public to help stamp out this crime.

The Modern Slavery Helpline, 08000 121 700 is there to help but if you feel someone is in immediate danger please call 999.

The UK Modern Slavery Helpline is available 24/7 to offer confidential, advice and support for any victim, statutory agency, business, or member of the public regarding modern slavery suspicions or concerns. Trained Helpline Advisers are available to discuss potential signs of modern slavery and discuss options for callers or victims in need.

Calls are free and the number to call is 08000 121 700 or people can contact the team online atwww.modernslaveryhelpline.org/

Kick your knee pain into touch with a little help at home from Joint Health Matters!

Knee pain is a common complaint which affects people of all ages and can occur at any time in our lives whether we’re on the golf course or getting out of the bath.

In the majority of cases, with good advice and self-management, the pain will settle without the need to see a GP or health care professional and early action can help prevent more serious problems later.

Now sufferers have a wealth of advice at their fingertips to aid their recovery thanks to Joint Health Matters, a new website which gives people access to a wide range of information about knee problems caused by injury, osteoarthritis or other conditions.

The information provided is based on national and international guidelines for best practice on the management of musculoskeletal knee conditions and chronic pain.

Funded by the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, the website has been developed in collaboration with the NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Joint Health Integrated Musculoskeletal Service at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

The website has been developed by musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy specialists, consultants, GPs and pain specialists who all have a special interest in the management of musculoskeletal knee conditions and chronic pain.

Liverpool-based creative studio Citrus Suite Digital designed the website which features supporting content provided by Physitrack® and Arthritis Research UK.

GPs and healthcare professionals can refer patients with knee pain to the website for advice on how to manage their condition at home. However you don’t need a GP referral, anyone can access the website for expert advice and support at any time.

All you need to do is to visit www.jointhealthmatters.org and register your details to log in and discover the most likely cause of your knee pain and how to manage it.

Common causes of knee pain include ligament injuries from sports including football, skiing and netball. Knee pain can also be a result of overuse, being overweight, osteoarthritis or inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

The website features diagrams to illustrate how the knee joint works and video exercises to improve your pain, strength and mobility. It also advises users when to seek medical advice and gives them the option to set up and review goals to speed up their recovery.

Plus there are useful links to other informative websites, in particular, those which provide local supporting services in West Lancashire and Sefton.

Sarah Ralph, advanced practice physiotherapist at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, explained: “The website can be used by anyone with knee pain to help them self-manage their condition, without the need to see their GP as there is also clear advice on when it is necessary to seek medical attention.

“It is also ideal for patients who have been to their GP and are waiting for a referral to see a specialist. In the meantime, they can have a look at the website and try some of the advice and exercises at home to start improving their symptoms.

“In the future we are aiming to develop the website further by including more musculoskeletal conditions.”

Dr Peter Gregory, GP and clinical executive at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “The website looks slick and easy to use, very professional.”

Overall 91 per cent of patients and clinicians who tested the website said they would definitely recommend the site to family, friends and patients who had knee pain.

One hundred per cent of testers said the website looked professional and was easy to use and agreed that “the website will support me/my patients to self-manage knee pain.”

Funding the website is part of the Innovation Agency’s role in supporting innovation in musculoskeletal conditions in our region.

For more information on our work visit www.innovationagencynwc.nhs.uk

Staying social while avoiding smoking triggers

Once you’ve made the decision to stop smoking, you can’t help but notice all the scenarios that could trigger a craving. The pub you always go to, the ‘traditional’ pint and a smoke, your ‘smoking buddy’ outside, even the ‘usual times’ you nip out for a cigarette during a social gathering. Keeping up your social life while quitting might seem impossible, especially if you are a particularly social smoker!

But there’s no reason to shy away. Just because you’re an ex-smoker doesn’t mean you have to be an ex-social butterfly!

Consider the connection of smoking and drinking

It is beneficial to know that there is a link between nicotine and alcohol. At the extreme, government data has found that up to 90 per cent of people who are addicted to alcohol will also smoke. Furthermore, smokers have been found to be more likely to drink and have a 2.7 times greater risk of becoming dependent on alcohol than non-smokers do.

Nicotine and alcohol have both been observed to act on similar mechanisms in the brain. When it comes to nicotine, the chemical compound will enter the bloodstream as soon as you smoke a cigarette and rapidly get transported to your brain. Once there, the nicotine will stimulate the brain by creating receptors which release chemicals that give a feeling of pleasure. These receptors will increase in number as smoking becomes prolonged and your brain will become reliant on nicotine in order to release these feel-good chemicals.

But it only takes 72 hours for nicotine levels in the bloodstream to dip when you quit smoking. The receptors won’t disappear that quickly though, so your brain’s chemistry will react to cause powerful cravings and strong emotional reactions. Persistence is key, as nicotine receptors will go away with time and your brain chemistry should be back to normal within three months of a quit. During this difficult phase of adjustment, many quitters find nicotine patches can help ease those intense cravings.

For alcohol, much like nicotine, researchers have suggested that the substance stimulates a feeling of pleasure in the brain. There are suggestions that nicotine and alcohol will moderate each other’s effects on the brain due to the fact that nicotine stimulates while alcohol sedates.

Tips for socialising when on a quit-smoking journey

Now that you’ve started your no-smoking journey, how do you balance it with your social life? Here’s how to stick to your goals and still have a good time:

Don’t delay

Don’t let yourself get bogged down with doubts. Everything you did as a smoker, you can do as a former smoker. Holding off too long from social drinking after quitting can create a sense of intimidation. Plus, socialising with friends is an important part of your life. The sooner you teach yourself how to enjoy a drink or two without a cigarette, the sooner you’ll feel like your life is back to normal.

Self-encouragement

Of course, your usual choice of pub might trigger a smoking craving. Before leaving the house or in the car, be mentally prepared by saying aloud, “I’m a former smoker.” Or try, “I don’t smoke. I’m healthier and happier without cigarettes.” The main point is to remind yourself that you’re a former smoker and that you don’t need to light up anymore.

A no-smoking social

It might be a good idea to invite friends to your home instead of going out for a drink on during the early days. You can celebrate your smoke-free success with them. You’ll be able to control what is served which can help stop those triggers and completely avoid cigarettes in your smoke-free home.

Non-smoking friends

Good support will be invaluable as you quit. Who you choose to hang out with can help support your ex-smoking status. Slip-ups can occur when quitters are in the company of other smokers who may not be aware of how to support their quit attempt.

Find yourself a quit buddy

Enlist a family member or friend as your ‘quit buddy’ to take along to an event! A quit buddy is someone who supports your quit. Should you encounter old smoking friends who ask you to join them, make sure they are aware of your situation so they can be respectful. Not only that, you’ll also have your quit buddy to hang out with.

Considering Medical Treatment in the Ukraine

Many publications state the services provided by the NHS has become worse over the last few years. And it may not change for some time.

British hospitals are so overloaded that some patients sometimes wait weeks for their appointment and even months. There are some articles describing beds being located in the hospital corridors.

A high-quality health care for those who have no insurance package might become an unreachable luxury, especially if we think about dentistry or laser eye surgery.

As such, some UK patients are searching for a more affordable treatment. Medical tourism was born many years ago and has been successfully developing over the last decade not only in the UK, but in other developed countries as well.

There are numerous health tourism destinations, but in this article we would like to talk about Ukraine and the medical services which this state can propose for the British people.

Conceivably, few of our readers know much about Ukraine. Therefore, we propose some facts about this country.

  • Ukraine is the largest European country.
  • It can be surprising that the geographic centre of Europe is located in Ukraine – in the Zakarpattya region.
  • 2018 UEFA Champions League Final was held in Kyiv – Ukrainian capital. Many European tourists mentioned the beauty of the city, high level of organizing and a sincere hospitality of Ukrainians.
  • Eurovision Song Contest 2005 and 2017 took place also in Kyiv.
  • UEFA Euro 2012 was co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland.

So, there is no doubt that Ukraine is the most “European” country among all former-USSR countries. And hundreds of tourists from all over the world come to Ukraine every day.

Several low-costs operate in Ukraine. For example, a return flight London-Kyiv-London with Ryanair costs £59 / €67 only. For comparison, the price of London-Budapest-London route is around £68 / €77!

It is necessary to mention that no visa is required for the UK and Irish citizens if they come to Ukraine for up to 90 days.

A great number of medical students from Asia, Middle East and Africa are studying in many Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv and Kyiv. They choose Ukraine for graduation because of the very high quality of education and low prices.

It’s not just in the Ukraine where people are turning to for medical treatments, for instance many British citizens are seeking medical treatment as far afield as India, and Turkey has become a popular affordable choice for hair transplants (what to expect after a hair tranplant in Turkey).

The level of medical care in Ukraine is on the European level in terms of doctors’ qualification and medical equipment installed in the hospitals.

Ukrainian medical specialists regularly participate at the international medical forums and conferences enriching the world medical science and establishing new perspective trends.

The medical equipment, such as MRI and CT scanners, dental units, implants and appliances, LASIK equipment is the same supplied into the UK and Ukraine. The brands, such as Siemens, GE, Sirona, Alcon, Karl Storz are routine in medical practice of Ukrainian and European hospitals.

Based on this, we would consider Ukraine as the country which can offer the high-quality medical care, if we are talking about the medical centres and hospitals located in large cities, like Kyiv and Kharkiv.

There are some Ukrainian medical tourism agencies which care about all the aspects of health tour of the tourist who come from abroad. One of those is “Medical Ukraine” medical tourism agency www.med-ukraine.com

They solve all your problems when you get the treatment and/or diagnostics in the Ukrainian hospital.

Medical Ukraine:

  • Prepares and schedules the program of your diagnostics and treatment

  • Selects and books accommodation: apartment, hotel or hostel

  • Provides the escort at the medical centres and personal interpreter during all the medical appointments

  • 24 Hour support in emergency cases

  • Provides you with the certified translation of all the medical documentation which you get in Ukraine. So, you are able to use it later in the UK

  • Provides your airport transfer

  • Organizes leisure activities and cares about your diet

Just to give you the idea about the prices of medical services in Ukraine, some figures:

  • Dental implantation “all included”: implant, abutment, crown. From £363 / €410
  • Root canal treatment – from £13 / €15
  • Braces – from £133 / €150
  • Veneer Emax – from £239 / €270. Crown and installation are included

Materials used are: Straumann, Nobel Biocare, NeoBiotech, 3M, Ormco, etc.

  • LASIK, SUPER LASIK, SUPER LASIK THIN FLAP, Femto LASIK, Femto SUPER LASIK – from £261 / €295
  • Cataract treatment – from £301 / €340
  • Glaucoma surgery – £319 / €360

Equipment and materials used are: Alcon, Karl Zeiss, Tomey, etc.

  • MRI – from £49 / €55
  • CT – £27 / €30
  • Ultrasound – from £7 / €8
  • Laboratory tests – from £2.7 / €3
  • Check-up – £115 / €130

 

Investigation is fulfilled on the scanners Siemens, Philips, GE, Roche, etc.

More details can be found here: http://med-ukraine.com/en/save-with-us/

 

So, why not come to Ukraine for an affordable check-up for just £115 / €130?

It is impossible to find prices for such a set of diagnostic procedures in the UK!!!

More details can be found here: http://med-ukraine.com/en/check-up-3/

and here: http://med-ukraine.com/en/extended-programme/

 

Or, maybe, it is time to get rid of your glasses with LASIK for £261 / €295?

Medical Ukraine will thoroughly evaluate your clinical case and schedule the appointment with the best doctors, PhD and MD. Many of them have the experience of practicing in the USA and Europe.

Please contact us via e-mail: info@med-ukraine.com

or Tel./Viber/WahtsApp: +380687430487

We are sure that after your first visit you will return to us again and again, like many of our patients have done!

Ways To Keep Fit In Later Life

Without actively maintaining fitness and strength, day to day tasks can become increasingly difficult to carry out. A sedentary lifestyle in later life can produce major health implications, affecting everything from our bones, mobility and even eyesight.

It’s recommended that people over 65 should aim to spend 150 minutes on exercise each week, there are ways to stay fit no matter your age or ability. We have noted fun and different ways stay active as you age.

The Importance Of Diet

A healthy and balanced diet goes hand in hand with keeping fit. Food is what we use to fuel our bodies so eating the right types will give us with the energy needed to be active.

A poor diet can have emotional effects as well as physical, with studies highlighting a link between improvements in depression and anxiety when better eating habits are introduced. Changing the way you eat, opting for a more balanced and nutritional menu can help you avoid bad moods, lethargy, aches, pains and low energy levels.

Eating healthy simply begins with being more mindful,  this can mean taking a little more time to consider the types of foods you are purchasing, the size of your portions and keeping an eye out for consuming too much of a particular food group.

Types of Exercises

To get the most out of your exercise, you’ll want to stick to activities which increase your heart rate but are also low impact. High impact sports and exercise require some recovery time, therefore, a person may not be able to consistently do them. As consistency is key for fitness in later life, it is recommended that people over the age of 65 do activities which are considered low – moderate intensity, these types of exercises can be completed regularly and safely.

As you build your strength you can slowly work your way up to more intense exercises for a longer duration of time, challenging yourself as your body gradually adjusts to the change. Many people are surprised at how quickly activities they once struggled with now require little effort and energy, however, it’s always best to consult your GP before increasing your activity levels.

Walking

Increasing the number of steps you take in a day is a great way to improve your fitness levels without much planning or the need for any specialist equipment. Brisk walking is the best way to get your heart rate going, it involves walking at a faster pace than you typically would.

Walking exercise can be completed in a number of locations, a 15 minute brisk walking around your garden in the morning can help get your muscles warmed up for the day ahead, combine exercise and leisure by walking around and taking in the beauty of your local parks.Community walking clubs are also a superb way to socialise while you exercise, group exercise can help encourage and motivate you.

At-home Exercises
Exercises you can complete in your home are excellent as they allow you to keep active whilst remaining comfortable. Regular at-home exercises can improve your strength, flexibility, and stamina. Pieces of the furniture in your home can be utilised as tools to aid your activity and the weight of your body for resistance.

Exercises completed from sitting positions improve many aspects of your fitness including posture and back strength. Sitting exercises use the muscles in your upper body and work wonderfully for people with existing mobility issues.

An example of a sitting exercise :

Upper Body Twist

  1. Seated on upright on a 4 legged chair, place your feet flat on the floor, cross your arms and place your hands on your shoulde
  2. Using your upper body turn your torso left as far is can go, never twist so far it becomes uncomfortable.
  3. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat.

The upper body twist can help you build and maintain strength in your back and shoulders.

Standing is important for health, it encourages good circulation in the lower half of your body, with some studies indicating that standing for periods of the day can reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, and metabolic conditions.

An example of a standing exercise  that can improve your fitness levels :

Sideways bends

  1. Standing up, position your feet hip-width apart, placing your arms on either side of you.
  2. Slide your left arm downwards towards the floor. Never slide so far it becomes uncomfortable.
  3. Repeat this move using your right arm on the opposite side of your body.

Heavy Gardening – This is an enjoyable at home activity that can also be counted towards your daily activity. Heavy gardening can be used as a form of resistance training without the need for high spec gym equipment.

Moderately large and heavy pots can be used as a substitute for weights, helping you build strength as you pretty your garden.

Exercising in water is a fantastic way to keep fit as you age, water provides relief during exercise, as less stress will be placed on your joints. People will often find that they are able to complete more activities in water for longer durations -so much so, water exercise provide pain relief for people with arthritis

We’ve listed some water exercises that are enjoyable and help you maintain fitness:

Swimming – Swimming laps raises heart rate and provides an overall work out for your body, strengthening your lungs and heart in the process. Your local leisure centre will likely have swimming sessions for different ability levels.

Water Aerobics – Water aerobics uses dancing to get your heart pumping, these sessions typically last between 45-60 minutes, 2 water aerobic sessions a week would put you well on track to hit the goal of 150 minutes of exercise.

Water Balance Exercises – A high number of people over the age of 65 have falls and accidentsmany falls are due to poor balance, the injuries sustained from falls can greatly affect mobility for years to come. Water balance exercise such as water Yoga and Tai Chi can help you improve your balance, the water will provide support whilst you build strength and control. These types of classes are very useful in helping older people maintain independence and are also brilliant for well-being and relaxation.

Adding simple exercises to your daily routine can have a lasting impact on your health as you age.Once the change is adopted, increased physical activity will just become a normal thing to do. Many people are motivated to keep up their fitness routine as they recognise the change in themselves – better moods, and increased physical strength can give a person confidence and a new vivaciousness for life. The long-term benefits of fitness for older people are extensive, exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way in warding off degenerative diseases such as dementia, reduces the risk of medical conditions that lead to stroke such as hypertension, and limits the risk of falls and subsequent mobility issues.

 

The Good Care Group is a Live-in care provider rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission. We provide excellent care, support and companionship to help you continue to live safely and comfortably in your home. Find out more about live-in care by The Good Care Group by visiting https://www.thegoodcaregroup.com/ or contact us on 020 3728 7575

Newman to feature at Birmingham ‘City Drive’ Social Enterprise Event

On Friday 27th April Newman University’s Enterprise team will be attending the flagship social enterprise event and celebration of Birmingham as a Social Enterprise City.

The event is part of a week long programme run by iSE, the social enterprise experts who aim to provide development opportunities for social enterprises, community organisations and not for profits in Birmingham and beyond. The event, named City Drive will showcase the social enterprises which exist within Birmingham and aims to raise awareness, create market opportunities, promote volunteering opportunities, work experience and employment within the sector.

City Drive has 5 calls to action: buy from a Social Enterprise; start a social enterprise; work in a social enterprise; volunteer in a social enterprise; and invest in a social enterprise.

Kevin Griffiths, Enterprise and Employer Engagement Manager at Newman University commented “Birmingham has more social enterprises than any other UK city outside of London.  Here at Newman we recognise the value of this sector and actively seek to partner with and support new, established and aspirant enterprises. Our expertise in the field makes us the partner of choice for a growing number of social enterprises.  We are proud of our contribution to the success of the sector.”

Newman will be promoting our services as a working partner and provider of consultancy services at our stall on the day.

The event is open to anyone with an interest in this sector and will take place at The Council House in Birmingham between 10:30am and 12:30pm.

For further information visit the iSE website.

Health Mentors receive recognition from Vice Chancellor

Newman University, Birmingham provides a short course for Health Mentors at its campus in Bartley Green.

The one year part-time course was developed with social impact company, Evolve and prides itself on being an innovative staff training programme. The level 4 course provides bespoke training for Health Mentors deployed into schools by Evolve, providing opportunities to study in groups, complete work shadowing and to partake in independent work placements.

The course aims to promote the development of students’ intellectual and key skills to enable them to progress with their studies and provide them with the necessary preparation for employment, further professional training and academic study.

This year a cohort of six students successfully completed the course which was celebrated on Thursday 12th April at the university campus with an awards evening.

The students celebrated their achievements along with their tutor Dr Simon Bicknell and Vice Chancellor of Newman University, Professor Scott Davidson.

Dr Simon Bicknell commented, “The short course for Health Mentors is an exciting and innovative development for Newman University. This course not only provides us with the opportunity to work closely with our colleagues from Evolve, but also, by training the next generation of Health Mentors, to make an impact on the lives of school children across the country.”

For further information on the Health Mentors course, you can visit the Newman University website.

Local patients using innovative NHS app to get advice on healthcare

An innovative app is proving very popular with patients across the West Midlands who need advice on where to go and what to do if they have an urgent healthcare concern.

Launched a year ago, Ask NHS is a free smartphone app giving patients more flexibility in accessing healthcare advice and support. The app is very user-friendly and patients can get confidential advice based on their symptoms from Olivia, a virtual nurse. They can also search for health services and book GP appointments.

The Ask NHS app now has around 85,000 users across the 22 CCGs in the West Midlands, covering approximately 800 GP practices and a population of 5.5 million. More women (64%) use the app than men and as expected, the app is most popular with younger people (70%+ under the age of 45).

There have been 165,000 digital interactions with the Ask NHS app over the past year. This means that patients have used the app 165,000 times instead of accessing other NHS services like NHS 111 and GP services, which reduces pressure on these services.

The Ask NHS app’s symptom checker is proving to be particularly popular and can advise patients on how to take care of themselves as well as signposting them to their GP or another service if necessary. Over 50,000 symptom checker assessments have been completed through the app.

Rachael Ellis, Chief Officer of the transformation team at Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and lead on the West Midlands Integrated Urgent Care Alliance says:

“The Ask NHS app is a really useful alternative for patients who need to obtain urgent advice on their health. They can receive advice 24 hours a day wherever they are and without them having to wait for or attend a GP appointment or going to A&E unless this is really necessary. This reduces the demand on GPs and on A&E departments so that they can concentrate on helping people with more complex needs and saves patients time and money.”

“Feedback on the app has been extremely positive, with the majority of users finding it easy or extremely easy to download and register, the symptom checker easy or extremely easy to use and GP appointment booking or cancelling extremely easy.”

Feedback from patients has included:

“I really do like your Ask NHS app. It helped me when I was having an asthma attack and i could not talk and it rang 111 for me and they got the ambulance for me as well. This app can save people lives when they need it. Thank you for doing the app.” Vicky Barnsley from Erdington

“This is REALLY useful app as it helps you to minimise a trip to A&E or even more helpful is that the app can arrange a call back from an actual LIVE clinician!!” Tia Emerson from Walsall

“I found it quite useful and in my view it will help the NHS organise and prioritise who should be called first. Instead of waiting on the phone and putting pressure on the line they will call you back whenever they can. Perfect for me.” Nour Morjan from Telford

The app is free to download from both Google and iOS App Store (4 out 5 rating) and is in the Top 10 – Mobile Apps in UK under Medical Category.

The Ask NHS app has been commissioned by the West Midlands Integrated Urgent Care Alliance on behalf of all of the clinical commissioning groups in the West Midlands.

The Low Down on Nerve Agents by Natasha Osborn Patel

nerve agents

nerve agents

Introduction to the Salisbury attack?

Nerve agents have made many news headlines following the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal,66, and his 33-Year old daughter Yulia in Salisbury on the 4th March. Whilst there is no doubt this attack will have political implications for Russia’s relationship with the West there are still questions surrounding the short and long-term effects of nerve agents on the body, their previous use and the risk they pose to the public.

What are nerve agents?

Nerve agents are chemicals usually liquid at room temperature with little or no smell that act on the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system(nerves and ganglia) disrupting nerve transmissions to organs. Exposure to nerve agents is most likely to occur through inhalation or exposure to eyes or upper respiratory tract tissue. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine stimulates muscles and is then broken down by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Some nerve agents stop acetylcholinesterase from breaking down acetylcholine causing excessive amounts of acetylcholine to build up at muscles resulting in muscle paralysis which can cause loss of movement resulting in death from respiratory failure.

What Short effects do they have on the body?

Immediate effects to nerve agent exposure after high or intermediate level include:

  • miosis (constriction of the pupils)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • nose and mouth secretions

Effects after 30 minutes of exposure include:

  • paralysis

What Long term effects do they have on the body?

The long-term effects of exposure to nerve agents at a high and possibly intermediate-level can cause significant long-term neurological and neuropsychological outcomes that include delayed neuropathy. Neuropathy is defined as the disease or dysfunction of nerves which can result in weakness and numbness.

When have nerve agents been used before?

Nerve agents are considered a type of chemical warfare and banned in the Chemical Weapons Conventions in 1997 which banned the stockpiling, development and use of nerve agents. This was signed by Russia, USA and 163 other countries. They have previously been used in terrorist attacks in Japan in 1994 and 1995 where the nerve agent Sarin was released resulting in the deaths of 19 people and putting over 6,000 in the hospital.

What is the antidote?

After high or intermediate level exposure to a nerve agent an antidote must be administered as soon as possible. Antidotes to nerve agents include atropine and pralidoxime which work by clearing the nerve agent, reversing the amount of acetylcholine and reactivating the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Additionally, drugs such as diazepam are often needed as well as artificial respiration and supportive therapy.

What Nerve agent was used in the Salisbury attack?

Personnel from the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Centre at Porton Down in Wiltshire identified the nerve agent as Novichok.Novichok is a choline esterase inhibitor which effects are very rapid, believed to be 5-10 times more toxic than the nerve agent VX and very difficult to treat.

Danger of Novichok to the Public?

As well as Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal police officer Det Sgt Nick Bailey was also treated in hospital after exposure to the nerve agent but was released on the 22 March. A futher 48 people were assessed in hospital after the Salisbury attack and up to 500 people who went to the Mill pub or Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday 4th March or Monday 5th have been told to wash their clothes and possessions. Futhermore 180 military personal have been sent to remove vehicles and objects that may have been contaminated.However Terrorism Police UK have urged that the threat to them is minimal and “the public should not be alarmed and the public health advice remains the same” and Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies has reassured the public that “health risk to the residents of Salisbury remains low”.

Political Consequences?

Following the incident, The UK have expelled 23 Russian diplomats. The European Council have supported this decision issuing a statement agreeing with the UK that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attacks. Internationally 27 countries both in and outside Europe are set to expel Russian diplomats. Theresa May stated “This will be the single biggest expulsion for over thirty years and it reflects the fact that this is not the first time that the Russian State has acted against our country.” The UK claims that not only do they have evidence that Russia have violated the chemical weapons convention, but they have also been behind several other assassinations in the UK such as the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Russia deny these allegations are set to expel over 60 diplomats from different countries and have issued 14 questions to the UK following the Salisbury attack.

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Article by University of Birmingham intern Natasha Osborn Patel twitter.com/patelosborn