Services During COVID-19
The government has recently announced a number of changes to lockdown measures, social distancing and shielding guidance. Much of this guidance is offering more freedoms and flexibility around how we work and socialise.
Whilst we appreciate these changes will be welcomed by many, staff at Firs House Surgery and the wider NHS remain vigilant and cautious. Given the nature of COVID-19, and the needs of the people we see at the surgery, we will continue to employ strict measures that limit exposure. These measures include staff and patients wearing PPE, strict social distancing within and on the grounds of the surgery, restricted access to the building for the public with patients invited to attend only, and the continuation of telephone triage prior to attending.
The world may appear to be returning to some semblance of normality but we are conscious that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, so please understand that at this time we will maintain a cautious approach to how and when we offer our wider services. Moving forwards, the focus for Firs House will be on reducing the risk of exposure for our patients and staff, and only opening up services once we can offer assurances it is safe to do so. With this in mind, we ask for your continued patience and understanding, especially if we are not in a position to offer some non-urgent services.
30th June 2020
Flu is an unpredictable virus that can cause mild illness in most people. It can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups including older people, pregnant women and people with an underlying health condition. Certain people are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These people are advised to have a flu vaccine each year. For otherwise healthy people flu can be very unpleasant, however most people will recover from flu within a week or two.
People who should have a flu vaccine
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to help protect them against catching flu and developing serious complications.
You should have the flu vaccine if you:
◦are 65 or over
◦have certain medical conditions
◦are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
◦receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person
Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine. It is your employer's responsibility to arrange and pay for this vaccine.
Flu vaccine for children
The flu vaccine is available at this surgery for:
◦children over the age of 6 months with a long-term health conditions
◦children aged 2 and 3 on August 31 2019 – that is, born between September 1 2015 and August 31 2017
Children aged between 6 months and 2 years of age who are eligible for the flu vaccine will receive an injected flu vaccine. Children eligible for the flu vaccine aged between 2 and 17 will usually have the flu vaccine nasal spray. School aged children will be offered the vaccine through a school vaccination programme and the surgery is unable to offer this service. F
65s and over and the flu vaccine
You are eligible for the flu vaccine this year (2018/19) if you are aged 65 and over on March 31 2019 – that is, you were born on or before March 31 1954. So, if you are currently 64 but will be 65 on March 31 2019, you do qualify.
Pregnant women and the flu vaccine
If you're pregnant, you're advised to have the injectable flu vaccine, regardless of the stage of pregnancy you've reached. That's because there's strong evidence to suggest pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu.
If you're pregnant, you will benefit from the flu vaccine because:
◦it reduces your chance of getting serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy
◦it reduces your risk of having a miscarriage, or your baby being born prematurely or with a low birthweight because of flu
◦it will help protect your baby as they will continue to have some immunity to flu for the first few months of their life
It's safe to have the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy from conception onwards. Talk to your GP, midwife or pharmacist if you want more information.
Flu vaccine for people with medical conditions
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:
◦chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma (which requires an inhaled or tablet steroid treatment, or has led to hospital admission in the past), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
◦chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
◦chronic kidney disease
◦chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis or celiac disease
◦chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease or multiple sclerosis (MS)
◦problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
◦a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
◦being seriously overweight (BMI of 40 or above)
This list of conditions isn't definitive. It's always an issue of clinical judgement. Your GP can assess you to take into account the risk of flu making any underlying illness you may have worse, as well as your risk of serious illness from flu itself. The vaccine should always be offered in such cases, even if you are not technically in one of the risk groups above.
If you live with someone who has a weakened immune system, you may also be advised to have a flu vaccine. Speak to your GP about this.
Flu vaccine for carers
If you are the main carer for someone who is elderly or disabled, speak to your GP or pharmacist about having a flu vaccine along with the person you care for.
Cervical Screening (Smear Test)
What is cervical screening?
Cervical screening, or the “smear test”, is a routine health check that identifies potentially harmful cells and changes on the cervix. Cervical screening is not a test for cancer but catching any changes early can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer. Cervical cancer kills two women every day. Regular screenings can help reduce that number, which is why it’s so important you attend your screening when invited.
Who is the screening for?
If you are a woman, or someone with a cervix, you will be invited for your cervical screening at regular intervals:
If you’re aged 25-49, you’ll be invited every 3 years
If you’re aged 50-64, you’ll be invited every 5 years
It is advisable you have regular cervical screenings, but ultimately, it is your choice whether you attend.
What happens during cervical screening?
Your screening will only take a minute or two, the whole appointment usually takes around ten minutes. During your screening, a nurse will give you a private space in which to undress from the waist down. They will also give you a paper sheet to cover yourself and will ask you to lie on the bed. They’ll then place a speculum (a hollow cylinder with a rounded edge) in your vagina. This helps them see your cervix. Then, using a small brush, they’ll gently gather some cells from your cervix. They’ll remove the speculum, put your sample in a pot and send it off for testing. You’ll get your results around two weeks later.
The nurse is there to answer any questions or concerns you may have before your appointment, so please talk to them if you’re feeling nervous. There are also a range of things you can do to put yourself at ease during your screening:
• If you’d like, you can take a trusted friend or family member with you
• Wear a long, loose dress or skirt. It may make you feel more covered during your screening
• Take long, deep breaths to help you relax
• Listen to a podcast or some music during your screening to put you at ease
• Speculums come in a range of different sizes. It is a rounded cylinder which is gently opened so nurses can see your cervix. You may want to discuss the size of the speculum with the nurse before you have the test.
If you’re due to have a cervical screening, you’ll receive a letter in the post. Don’t ignore it, book your cervical screening with Reception today.
If you missed your previous screening, contact Reception to book an appointment today.
How to book your cervical screening appointment
If you are due a cervical screening you can call reception and book an appointment with your GP or Practice Nurse.
More than 200,000 people are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes every year – and that means the risk of serious health complications and early death. Modern life can make it hard to be healthy but for many people Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by making small lifestyle changes.
Marie Rouse, our Advanced Nurse Practitioner and Diabetes Specialist Nurse, runs diabetes clinics every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. These take place at both our Histon and Cottenham surgeries. Please speak to reception to book an appointment.
Family Planning Clinics
We advise on all types of contraception. You can see any of the doctors or the nurse for advice during normal surgery hours, please speak to Reception to book an appointment.
Coil and cap fittings need a special appointment, Reception staff will be able to advise on clinic availability.
The Contraceptive Implant
Advice Regarding Coil Insertion
We provide antenatal and postnatal care with the help of the Community Midwife. The Midwife is also able to offer pre-conception advice.
Practice Nurse Clinics
The practice nurses are based in the surgery and can be seen by appointment. They provide a wide range of treatments including:
◦Contraceptive advice (including emergency contraception)
◦Travel health advice and Travel Immunisations
◦They are also able to give advice for some minor illnesses (ask at reception for details).
If you’re a smoker, giving up is the single most valuable step you can take to improve your health. It can improve your lifestyle and finances too! Please book an appointment with one of our practice nurses to discuss quitting smoking. The NHS can help you to quit using a variety of support tools and advice.
When you go smoke free, you are up to four times more likely to succeed if you use NHS support and stop smoking medicines such as patches or gum to manage your cravings.
Useful websites are -