Surgery Snippets - Latest news from the Stonehaven medical practice

Festive greetings and welcome to the winter edition of Snippets. At the time of writing this we have so far avoided any significant snow, a marked improvement on this time last year, but we have been buffeted by some pretty serious winds. Sadly on rereading the last Snippets we missed out on the barbeque summer that we had all hoped for.

Flu immunisation campaign

The one constant we can rely on at this time of year however is that our annual flu jab campaign has been in full swing. We have already done close to 3000 injections. This is a huge logistical effort for our staff chasing up patients and organising extra clinics including 3 Saturday mornings, so well done to all.

If however you feel you should be due a flu jab but have not yet had one it is not too late to get in touch. If you are unsure if you are entitled to a free flu jab our staff will be glad to try and help.

The categories are all those aged 65 or over and those under 65 with certain specified chronic health conditions.

One area I would take the chance to clarify is that for those under 65 with asthma it is only those who have needed recent steroid inhalers/tablets or have had emergency admissions to hospital that qualify.

As ever the doctors at the surgery fully support the flu immunisation campaign and would reinforce its importance in preventing what is not just an unpleasant illness but one that can lead on to serious complications particularly for the more vulnerable.

Medical Staffing

As previewed in the last Snippets Dr Herd has now retired from the end of September and is being missed by all.

The partners are currently in the process of advertising for two new permanent doctors as even although all Dr Herd’s hours have been replaced by locums we realise there has still been some extra pressure on appointments lately and hopefully this will help.

We are hoping to interview early in the New Year so hopefully we will be able to welcome some new faces in 2012.

Technology

One of the other issues mentioned in the last snippets was our desire to start using technology to the benefit of our patients in the interface with the surgery. Since the last Snippets we have now introduced the electronic patient check in service. This has been widely welcomed.

It is incredibly simple for all to use as all you have to enter is your date of birth. There is still however the option to go to the reception desk if you would rather. It has certainly cut down on queues at the reception desk which was one of the aims.

We are currently half way through a trial period on the text based message reminder system for appointments. While there have been some technological teething problems with this service it has been widely welcomed as a success and we anticipate committing to this service on a permanent basis.

We now have over 4500 mobile numbers on our system who are eligible to receive this free service. If you would be interested in joining them please pass on your mobile number to the surgery next time you are in.

In a similar way if you are using the service but have changed your mobile number recently please let us know. This service is purely for the convenience of our patients and an attempt to decrease the number of forgotten appointments.

As with everything else it is entirely optional but we would like to imagine that in the years to come we will be using it more and more widely for example inviting people in for their routine clinic review appointments.

This would also be good for the carbon footprint as it would mean less paper mail being sent out from the practice.

The next area we are looking updating is our webpage – firstly to make it look more attractive but more importantly to make it more functional and useful. This was one of the first issues raised by our excellent patient participation group when it first convened.

We are exploring the possibility of making it interactive so potentially patients could request or cancel appointments and even reorder medications. Also we feel it could have more information on services within the practice, times we are closed e.g. for staff training and links to health promotion and advice sites.

Maybe even this Snippets article could appear on it in the future as could the minutes from our Patient Participation group for all to see. If we have any budding web page designers out there prepared to give their time for free please let us know!

Patient Participation Group

Having mentioned the patient participation group above if we have anyone interested in joining the group there are currently a small number of vacancies. We meet approximately once every 2 months on a Monday evening for usually around one hour or slightly more from 6pm.

If you send your details in to me at the surgery I will pass them onto the chairman who is himself a Stonehaven resident and not directly connected to the surgery. We are particularly interested in getting a young volunteer as it is useful if we can reflect the views of our whole patient group- all ages considered!

Lifestyle choices

As we approach the New Year it is a time for a lot of us reflect on our lifestyle choices and set out our intentions for the New Year. There are several key areas where we can influence our future health.

The big 4 for most of us are healthy eating, smoking, alcohol and exercise. All of these have an influence on our likelihood of suffering from heart and stroke disease as well as influencing many other conditions such as certain cancers and diabetes to name just two.

The surgery will always be supportive of those wishing to give up smoking and can prescribe a number of products to help you quit as can your local pharmacies. We can also refer you to the fantastic Smoking Advisory Service for more detailed help and group sessions to try and encourage maintenance of quitting.

Alcohol misuse continues to have a big impact on many families in the local area as it does throughout the UK. As with smoking the problem is the addiction to the drug and it can be very hard to break but again there are a lot of local services set up to help including branches of the AA and also dedicated alcohol councillors that you can be referred to as well as certain medication that can be prescribed.

Even at a level below alcoholism alcohol can still been damaging your health – it is always worth remembering the recommended upper weekly limits for a man are 21 units and for a woman 14.

Additional advice exists to avoid binge drinking recommending no more than 3-4 units a day for a man and no more than 2-3 per day for a woman. Levels above this can be detrimental to your long term health.

Again if you need help please make an appointment with your GP. An excellent website for the areas mentioned above and many other is the nhs.uk site- follow the link to the “Live well” section.

Good luck with the New Year resolutions and Best wishes for a healthy 2012

Dr Stuart Reary and all at Stonehaven Medical Group.