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In this issue...

PPG Spotlight

Staffordshire Community Hospital Consultation - launch delayed

Community Conversation Events

Maternity Services Liaison Committee - new members required

GP Career Plus Pilot 

Antibiotics not the answer to winter illness

Showing symptoms of stroke? - Act F.A.S.T.

Be Clear On Cancer - Tummy Troubles?

Dr Ruth Chambers - "Ask the Doctor" column

Patient Reference Groups for STP

We need a chat .... a Big Fat Chat

Free online Antenatal and Postnatal courses

Health Awareness Days

Welcome from ......

Fiona Hamil photoFiona Hamill - Chief Operating Officer
I am pleased to introduce myself as the new Chief Operating Officer for Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire CCGs. 

I joined the CCGs on 31 January 2017, having previously worked for NHS England as Locality Director for Staffordshire. In this role I was responsible for regulating all six CCGs across the whole of the county.

Before joining the NHS I had a varied career, having previously been a Senior Civil Servant in Northern Ireland.  During this time, I held a range of different roles, including Director of Performance and Delivery for the Department of Health and Social Services, and Director of Finance.

I am keen to develop the CCGs as organisations to ensure that CCG staff and managers make thoughtful and intelligent commissioning decisions that will benefit local residents. I would like to be able to work with the CCGs to help build the confidence of all staff so that they can think, challenge and question to then make the right decisions.

I’d also like to tell you a bit about myself, and how my own personal experiences of the NHS help to influence the way I think and work. I have always had strong connections with the NHS, being the daughter of 2 GPs myself, and working in their GP practice during the summer holidays.

I have been a carer for my Mum, who had cancer, and for my Dad, who has Parkinson’s Disease and lives with Dementia. I also have a niece who had to undergo a liver transplant at a very young age, and I am step-Mum to 6 year old triplets.

All these experiences have given me a good understanding of how our health service works. I am able to look at this from both a practitioner point of view, and from the point of view of patients and carers. I understand the importance of having a health service that is there when you really need it, and to appreciate how the decisions that are made by commissioners can affect people on so many different levels.

I look forward to embracing my new role with the CCGs and to working with our patient and public members. 

Patient ParticipationIn the Spotlight
Group Spotlight  

Werrington Practice PPG - Library and Well Being Centre
Our PPG is very active. We currently have 35 members aged from 23 to 85.  Members of the PPG have taken over the running of the library building next door to the surgery. 

Werrington LibraryFrom being involved with the PPG they decided not to just run a library staffed by volunteers but to create a library and well being centre. The concept is to help alleviate loneliness in the community and to provide a facility to bring  healthcare and voluntary sector services to Werrington. 

The practice has a representative on the committee and were involved in the creation of the business plan. The volunteer-led Werrington Library and Wellbeing centre launched in May 2016.  In a few short months we now have a Ukulele group, chess club, knit and natter, ceramic painting workshops, a hair dresser and private nail care service.  Together for Health are providing lifestyle sessions, North Staffs Carers are holding monthly  sessions for people living with dementia, a group of local new mums have also set up a thriving mum and baby club. 

Werrington PPG photoThe Library and Well Being centre has quickly become the heart of the community and provides a base for organising the poppy appeal, scarecrow festival, children’s Christmas parties etc. The centre has a coffee bar and local people can just drop-in for a chat and a browse around the small ‘charity shop’ … or of course take out a book.

The practice actively promotes the services of the well being centre …. I think this is what is called ‘social prescribing‘ in the national GP press. 

If your PPG would like to feature in the "PPG Spotlight" and to share details about your PPG's activity, please email

Launch of northern Staffordshire community hospitals consultation delayed by elections

The launch of the CCGs' formal public consultation into the future use of community hospitals in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire has been paused.

At the CCGs' Governing Bodies joint meeting on 7 February 2017, the CCGs decided that it would delay the 12-week consultation, which was due to begin this month (February), until after the Stoke Central by-election on 23 February and the local County Council elections on 4 May have taken place.

During the pre-election period known as ‘purdah’, public services should not launch any consultations or make any decisions which might influence the outcome of an election. Public bodies are allowed to carry on with business as usual but the Governing Bodies felt that this was not usual business.

The CCGs’ Accountable Officer, Marcus Warnes told the Governing Bodies joint meeting (held in public at The Bridge Centre in Birches Head) that the CCGs had sought legal advice and had asked for opinions from NHS England and the local authorities. This had resulted in mixed responses, with Staffordshire County Council advising that it would not be able to make a formal representation on the consultation during purdah.

Legal advice requested by the CCGs stated that although there was no specific legal prohibition against launching the consultation, the potential to influence the outcome of election campaigns could make a legal challenge more likely.

Marcus Warnes said: “As there are mixed opinions and no definitive legal position relating to CCGs, it was felt prudent to follow the advice of NHS England - which would have to give final approval for the consultation to proceed - and it was decided that the start of formal consultation will be postponed for three months until after the May 4 local elections, and will commence on Monday May 8.”

Community Conversation Events

Maternity and Infant Health - Event feedback
The Community Conversation on Maternity and Infant Health took place on 31st January at Newcastle Children's Centre.

attendees in conversationIt was a positive and lively session covering topics such as choice during pregnancy and giving birth, smoking during pregnancy and how this could be reduced, breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

There were some very valuable insights gained through discussions at the event. The feedback and experiences that people shared with the CCG will be used to inform decisions for commissioning maternity services.

Patient Participation Groups - Save the date
The next Community Conversation will be taking place on Wednesday 26 April 2017 (in the afternoon), and will focus on Patient Participation Groups - please save the date. We will discuss how social media can broaden the reach of PPGs and what support is needed to help groups function effectively, as well as sharing good practice and ideas.

Look out for more details in the next newsletter. In the meantime, if you have any examples of best practice from your PPG, please email to

Maternity Services Liaison Committee
- new members required

The Maternity Services Liaison Committee is looking for new members.

Are you a parent to be or a new parent with pre-school children?

Are you interested in being involved and contributing to the development of maternity services locally? 
maternity photo 1
We’d like to invite you to join the Staffordshire Maternity Services Liaison Committee, a group of local service user representatives and healthcare professionals whose aim is to ensure that local maternity services reflect the needs
and wishes of the community.

maternity photo 2The committee will bring together the different professions involved in maternity care alongside those who use the services. Every few months we invite new and expectant parents to come and see us so we can find out about the maternity care they have received or are receiving, gaining views and opinions to help shape maternity services.
Come and have your say!  
We’d love to hear your experiences. 

If you are interested please call 01782 298002 and ask for Sharon Cooper or Gemma Hall, or email or

GP Career Plus Pilot   

Northern Staffordshire has been chosen to pilot a new scheme to find ways of keeping senior GPs who are considering leaving the profession so their skills and experience can continue to benefit patients.

Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire CCGs will be working with the North Staffordshire GP Federation to draw up plans targeted at GPs over 55 years who may be on the verge of leaving their jobs. 

Northern Staffordshire is one of 11 bids chosen to pilot the 12-month GP Career Plus scheme, and they will share a pot of £1 million of extra funding set aside for the initiative.

The scheme hopes to recruit GPs who might otherwise leave practice into a pool which could support colleagues by covering vacancies, annual leave and sick leave or focus on specific areas of work, such as home visits.

For more information please visit :

Citizens' Jury - Mental Health: Update   

The two Lay Board Members for Patient & Public Involvement for North Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent CCGs are involving the public in putting mental health services under the microscope.

They have recruited ten people to act as members of a citizens’ jury on mental health services in Northern Staffordshire.  The jury is a group of people who have experience of mental health services, either as patients or carers and also people with no experience but who have an interest in health care.

The role of jury is to develop recommendations which will be presented to the Joint Clinical Commissioning groups’ Governing body to inform the commissioning of mental health services.

The process will run until summer 2017 and the final report will be published in the autumn.
Our thanks to Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service for supporting the project by working with us as Clerk to the Jury.  

Antibiotics are not the answer to your winter illness 

The CCGs are urging people across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire to be antibiotics aware this winter – and to understand that antibiotics are unlikely to be the remedy for coughs, colds and sore throats.

medicines photoAntibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection and they work by killing bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading.

Local GPs and health experts are warning that antibiotics are not effective against viral infections such as the common cold and flu or most of the coughs and sore throats that circulate at this time of year.

By being antibiotics aware people can do their bit to help the prevention of ‘antibiotic resistance’, where bacteria adapt and find ways to survive the effects of the medication.
The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance bacteria will become resistant to them and they can no longer be used to treat infections – so it is vital that antibiotics are used only in the right way, as prescribed by a doctor.

Dr Manir Hussain, who is a pharmacist and Associate Director for Medicines Optimisation at the CCGs, said: “Many people wrongly assume that antibiotics are a cure-all remedy for their winter illness – but in reality they have no effect on colds, flu and the majority of coughs and sore throats. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections and bacteria find ways to become immune to the antibiotics that we take, making them less effective and in some cases stopping them from working altogether. The more we use antibiotics, the less effective they become – so it’s essential that we use them sensibly."

To read more, please visit

To find out more about antibiotics go to, or visit if you would like to join the fight against antibiotic resistance by becoming an Antibiotic Guardian.

Showing symptoms of stroke? Act F.A.S.T

The local CCGs are urging local residents to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of stroke. The appeal comes as Public Health England relaunch the ‘Act Fast’ stroke campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke and to encourage anyone who witnesses or experiences them to call 999 straight away.
Stroke is a serious, life threatening medical condition which occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. It is essential for anyone who is experiencing symptoms of stroke to seek medical help because the sooner they do, the less damage is likely to be done. 

Act F.A.S.T outlines the symptoms of stroke, which are:

  • Face – their face may have dropped to one side, they may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped
  • Arms – they may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred, or they may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake
  • Time – if you see any of these signs or symptoms, it is time to call 999 immediately

Read more on the CCG's news section of the website -

For more information about the symptoms of stroke, and to find out what support is available, visit:

Be Clear on Cancer - Tummy Troubles?

The latest Be Clear on Cancer campaign is about tummy troubles - If you’ve been suffering from tummy troubles such as diarrhoea, bloating, discomfort or anything else that just doesn’t feel right for three weeks or more, tell your doctor.

Be Clear on Cancer poster

There will be a roadshow in the Roebuck Shopping Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 March, where people can find out more

Read more about the warning signs and about other people's experiences at

Dr Ruth Chambers - Weekly "Ask the Doctor" column in Sentinel 

Dr Ruth Chambers photoDr Ruth Chambers will be writing a weekly column in the Sentinel. The column will feature articles linked to national awareness days, as well as CCG news, and will be written from a GP perspective. There will also be the opportunity for readers to send in questions.

The first column appeared in the Sentinel on 6 February 2017 and looked at high blood pressure. To view the article, please follow the link:- 

Patient Reference Groups for the
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)

Together we're betterPatients and members of the public can now apply to join Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) patient reference groups. The creation of the patient reference groups are the next stage in the STP following the series of ten “Conversation Staffordshire” and “Conversation Stoke-on-Trent” events, hosted by both local Healthwatch organisations during November and December 2016, which were attended by more than 200 people.

The STP, which was published on Thursday 15 December 2016, will now look to develop more detailed plans local health and social care services. The patient reference groups will support the development of these plans by generating ideas, meeting with key clinicians and commenting on the proposals. 

To find out more information about the Patient Reference Groups and STP workstreams please visit:

If you would like to apply to join a patient reference group or for more information, please contact Healthwatch Staffordshire via  Freephone 08000518371 or; or Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent on 01782 683080

We need a chat ..... a Big Fat Chat 

In Staffordshire 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 10 year olds are obese. 

Not only does this limit the chances of people in Staffordshire living a long, healthy life, it also costs Staffordshire’s NHS and social care services over £100million every year in dealing with issues linked to obesity. 

We’ve got lots of data that tells us our weight can be a result of the personal choices we make as well as the environment we live in. This means that we can all play a part in tackling obesity, but we need to agree where our responsibilities lie and how far we’re willing to go to make change happen. 

Big Fat Chat logoStaffordshire’s Big Fat Chat is a public debate being run by Staffordshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board. It’s about hearing the opinions of people in Staffordshire on how we should tackle obesity across the county. 

Your views, alongside other research and evidence, will be used to agree a joint plan to tackle obesity across Staffordshire. So head over to and tell us what you think.

Free Online Antenatal and Postnatal Parenting Courses

Please see below details of two FREE online parenting courses aimed at expectant and new parents.
Online Antenatal and postnatal courses

Health Awareness Days

Self Injury Awareness Day - 1st March 2017

SIAD is an international event that is recognised across the globe.  Raising awareness about Self Injury Awareness Dayself-injury is incredibly important. Awareness leads to understanding and empathy, banishing judgement and fear, and reducing the number of people who feel alone and suffer in silence.  Raising awareness is about educating people who do not self-injure, and reaching out to people who do.

Self-harm refers to acts which involve inflicting injury on your own body. There are many forms of self harm. Examples include eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug taking, cutting, burning

Self-harming might feel like it helps to release anger and tension, provide relief from painful feelings, cope with difficult situations, focus on physical pain instead of emotional pain.

For more information please visit

For local assistance and advice email: or call on  01782 406000

Eating Disorders Awareness Week
27 February - 5 March

Eating Disorders Awareness Week is an international awareness event, fighting the myths and misunderstandings that surround anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour.  A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.

The most common eating disorders are: 
anorexia nervosa – when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible; for example, by starving themselves or exercising excessively
bulimia – when a person goes through periods of binge eating and is then deliberately sick or uses laxatives (medication to help empty the bowels) to try to control their weight
More information

You can talk in confidence to an adviser from the eating disorders charity Beat by calling their helpline on 0345 634 1414. They also have a designated youth helpline on 0345 634 7650

Copyright © 2017 Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group, All rights reserved.

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