Finding the support and help that you may need
For information around Drugs and Alcohol please visit our drugs and alcohol section
Flu is a highly infectious disease which is commonest in the winter months. People who are at greatest risk of catching flu and becoming really poorly with it can get a free flu jab from their GP.
Flu is not just a bad cold
The most common symptoms of flu include fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Even healthy people who catch flu take at least a week to recover. For the most vulnerable people though, a bad bout of flu could cause tonsillitis, pneumonia, meningitis, or even blood poisoning. It is a sad fact that last year in Bedfordshire 167 people died from illnesses that started out as flu. Nearly 1500 people had to stay overnight in hospital to be treated for flu-induced pneumonia.
The best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu jab
Most flu infections which occur in the winter months could be prevented with a simple vaccine. People who are at a higher risk of catching the flu than others (‘at-risk groups’) are eligible for free vaccination under our National Seasonal Flu Immunisation Programme. You are eligible if you are:
• Aged 65 years or older;
• Under 65 years and have a health condition such as diabetes, heart problem, kidney disease, liver disease, chest complaint or breathing difficulties, had a stroke or transient ischemic attack, problem with the spleen or a neurological condition;
• A 2 or 3 year old child;
• Living in a residential or nursing home; or
• The main carer for someone who is elderly, disabled or frail.
In Central Bedfordshire, this adds up to over 88,000 people. Fifty thousand had already been vaccinated by the end of November, but 33,831 people have still not received their free vaccine. It is important to remember that your flu jab doesn’t just protect you, but also all those around you. For example, having your 3-year-old son vaccinated will also prevent him from bringing flu home to his baby sister. If you are eligible and haven’t had your free flu jab yet, speak to your GP or practice nurse asap to book an appointment or visit one of these local pharmacies (PDF 22KB) who offer a free flu jab.
Look after yourself and avoid spreading infection
The flu virus spreads via droplets released from the nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. A single sneeze can fire 100,000 droplets of flu virus into the air, which live for 24 hours on objects such as furnishings and door handles. If you start to develop symptoms of flu:
• make sure that you cover your nose and mouth every time you cough or sneeze;
• wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and
• throw your used tissues into a bin.
For information for Services for Older People please visit our Getting Older Page
We want our residents to live long, healthy and happy lives. Click on the link to find out how we can help our residents to have a better quality of life please visit our page Health and Wellbeing
There are over 29 million people in the UK who spend a significant amount of their waking hours at work and the government recognises that the workplace is a crucial setting to improve the health of adults, leading to a better quality of life in later years.
The Healthy Workplace Programme provides any business or workplace in Central Bedfordshire with free support, signposting and advice on improving the health and wellbeing of their most important asset - their staff!
For further information visit our Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace page
To view current health awareness campaigns please visit our Health Campaigns Page
For more information on Health Services in Central Bedfordshire please visit our Health Services page
Central Bedfordshire Public Health is responsible for making sure that local residents have access to free NHS Health Checks, as part of a national, evidence-based programme for adults in England aged of 40 to 74.
What is a Health Check?
It is a standard and consistent process that is usually carried out at your local GP Practice by a nurse or healthcare assistant, and also sometimes by pharmacists.
It is intended to assess the risk of a person developing common health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia, all of which everyone is at risk of developing, but which can often be prevented.
Central Bedfordshire and its NHS partners are putting a greater emphasis on trying to prevent ill health, rather than just waiting until a condition needs treatment, which is much better for our residents.
What will happen when I go for a Health Check?
The Health Check involves range of standard questions that look at:
- how old you are - older people are at an increased risk;
- what is your ethnicity - some groups are at an increased risk of some diseases;
- whether you smoke - smoking is still the single biggest cause of premature death;
- if you have a family history of these diseases - you may be at greater risk if anyone in your family had these conditions;
- how physically active you are - being inactive is a risk to your health, and;
- how much alcohol you drink - are you drinking more than the safe limits?
It also involves a range of routine and simple health tests as follows:
- cholesterol test - using a small blood sample from your arm or finger;
- blood pressure test - quick and painless; most people will have experienced one before;
- body mass index (BMI) check - to see whether you are a healthy weight for your height;
- diabetes risk assessment - depending on the previous results, you may be offered further tests to check the level of sugar in your blood. If your blood sugar is high, you will then need to go on for further testing to establish if you are at risk of, or already have, diabetes.
What happens after the Health Check?
All of these answers and results will give you and your health professional a clearer picture of your health and your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of dementia.
The good news is that these conditions can often be prevented. If you are found to be at risk, your health professional will give you personalised advice on how to reduce it. Sometimes this can mean giving you medication to manage a condition. But very often it will mean telling you about or referring you to other services that will offer specialist help and support you to live a healthier lifestyle.
How do I get a Health Check?
Central Bedfordshire is committed to offering all residents aged 40-74 a Health Check.
Over the next few years GPs will write to all of their patients in this age group inviting them for a Health Check. If you have not yet been invited it may be that your GP already knows that you have a long term condition for which you are being treated.
If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you do not have to wait until invited; you can call your GP and ask to make an appointment for a Health Check, or pop in to one of the local pharmacies which offer the service. If you have a Health Check at a pharmacy, they will let your GP know so that you are not invited again and so that they can help you manage any risks that may be identified.
What if I am over 74?
Health Checks are not ageist – they are age appropriate! All of the evidence suggests that the age range 40-74 years is the time when the risks of these common health conditions are most likely to be identified and can be managed most effectively.
Also, Patients over 74 are more likely than younger residents to be in regular contact with their GP, so their health is probably being monitored more closely anyway, with less need for a Health Check
But, don’t worry if you are over 74 – you can still contact your GP if you would like them to assess you for any of the health concerns listed above.
To discuss Health Checks in Central Bedfordshire, contact: Public Health on 0300 300 4924
For more information about Health Checks go to www.nhs.uk or www.healthcheck.nhs.uk
To find out more about how we are improving the quality of life of our residents please visit our page Healthier Communities and Older People
What is Healthwatch?
The government wants local people to have a voice within health and social care services. This is part of changes the government wants to make to health and social care, with new organisations called Healthwatch to give citizens and communities a stronger voice to influence and challenge how local services are provided.
Contact Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire:
0300 303 8554
For help and support for adults with disabilities please visit our page Living with a disability
For more information on caring for someone please visit our page Looking after someone
For more information on Mental Health please visit our Mental Health page
- Obesity is a clinical term used when a person’s weight is above 30 Body Mass Index (BMI). You can calculate your BMI by using the BMI calculator
- Obesity can be linked to Type 2 Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease, risk of stroke, joint problems, depression, infertility, various cancers, sleep apnoea, hypertension, social discrimination, asthma and shortened life expectancy.
- To help prevent Obesity we must be more active and make changes to our diet to eat more healthily.
In Central Bedfordshire Public Health has commissioned a range of services to support people who are overweight (BMI of 25+) or obese (BMI of 30+).
For families there are 2 programmes; BeeZee Tots and BeeZee Bodies.
This is a fun, sociable and interactive programme designed for all families with children aged between 2 – 4yrs.
The activities include:- Cook and eat sessions, fun games and activities, practical parent workshops delivered by a dietitian and coffee time to meet new parents.
The programme consists of 6 x weekly sessions held in Children’s Centres across Central Bedfordshire.
If you would like more information about this programme please contact Helen Mayhew 01234 363774
This is a Family Weight Management Programme for 5-15 year olds and their families. The age groups are 5-8, 7-11 and 12-15.
There are 17 x weekly sessions which run in Houghton Regis/Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, and Sandy/Biggleswade.
The programme covers a range of subjects:-
- Practical and realistic advice and ideas about how to live a healthy lifestyle
- Help to manage your child’s weight
- Sessions are for parents/carers and child/young person
- Enhance children’s self confidence
- Practical healthy eating sessions including quick, easy and cheap recipe ideas
- Advice about portion sizes your child should have and how to say no!
- Loads of great activities like Basketball, Streetdance and Tennis.
If you would like more information or to book a place on BeeZee Bodies contact Helen Mayhew 01234 363774
For adults we have commissioned services around Healthy Eating and Exercise.
You can access this programme through your GP dependent on you meeting certain criteria which take into account your health and wellbeing. It is a 12 week course based at one of our Leisure Centres and includes some Gym based activities and some other sessions using a variety of activities to suit your exercise needs.
Once you have been referred by your GP, you will be contacted by a member of the Physical Activity Team who will arrange a meet and greet session to get you started.
Slimming World and Weight Watchers Referral Scheme
You can access this through your GP dependent on you meeting certain criteria which takes into account your BMI and other associated health needs, as well as your monetary circumstances.
Once you have been referred by your GP and you have contacted Slimming World or Weight Watchers, you will be sent a book of 12 vouchers. You will then have access to 12 weeks free attendance and 16 weeks on-line support.
The aim of the programme is to achieve 5% weight loss and make a positive behaviour change to a healthier lifestyle.
We are also working with schools, businesses, health professionals as well as the general public to support everyone who lives in Central Bedfordshire, to raise the issue of obesity and signpost them to the appropriate help.
National Child Measurement Programme
The NCMP is a government initiative which all Local Authorities must deliver every year. It began in 2005.
Every child in Reception year (age 4-5) and year 6 (age 10-11) is weighed and measured. The individual results are sent out to parents for their information, with advice and support if necessary. This could be ‘How to book a place at BeeZee Bodies’ or signposting to ‘Change4life’.
The results from each year band are collated and will help to guide us to where our support will be most effective. Over time we are able to build up a picture of the height and weight of our children within Central Bedfordshire and make sure that we put the correct services in place to support both children and adults.
Eat well, Move more, Live longer
The Change4life campaign is a very good starting point with lots of ideas and free resources to download. Go to Change for Life for activities for families in your area and healthy recipes.
‘Pat’ Do something!
This is a free app to download onto your phone that will find clubs, organisations, societies and activities that are going on near you.
To download the app go to:- BeeZee Bodies
If you are between 40 – 74 years of age, and are not already visiting your GP for a long term condition such as, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease or have had a stroke or heart attack, then be sure to have your free Health Check.
Health Checks are offered to help prevent some of these medical conditions. You will find more information about Health Checks on the Public Health pages of the Central Bedfordshire website.
Here are some more websites that you might find useful:-
British Heart Foundation
Team Beds and Luton 'Get Back Into'
For more information about Obesity and the services and support that Public Health can provide, please contact:-
Nicola Sinden – Public Health Co-ordinator for Obesity. 03003005569
If you would like to get involved in sport or leisure activities locally, there are lots of opportunities.
Find information about local leisure centre's, sports and fitness facilities and sports clubs on the Council' sports and leisure pages
Facilities for disabled people
You can find information about sports and leisure facilities for disabled people in the Council's sports and clubs directory.
Visit Central Bedfordshire Councils website Sports and Clubs Directory: Directory
For further local information visit the Disability Resource Centre
Leisure Activities for People aged over 50
- University of the 3rd Age
Bedford U3A was formed in 1989 and provides recreational, academic and social activities in an informal and relaxed manner which is designed to suit most tastes.
Visit Sports and Clubs Directory: Directory
Find out more about Transport options: Transport
Find out more about Local Events: Local events
Sexual health - sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by viruses and bacteria that are passed on during sexual intercourse. Some STIs, such as HIV and hepatitis, are blood-borne viruses. These can also be passed on by sharing needles and other drug-taking equipment.
STIs affect one in nine people. Many are easily treated, but some (including HIV) are not.
It is not always obvious if you or your partner has an STI as many have no symptoms. The best thing to do is make sure you always use a condom during sexual activity. If you may have come into contact with an STI, visit your doctor or local genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic immediately.
Central BedfordshireStop Smoking Service is a specialist team within Public Health whose main role is to help local people stop smoking.
The service has a range of support options across Central Bedfordshire, including group, one to one and telephone support as well as specialist pregnancy support. These are provided in a wide range of venues including health centres, pharmacies, GP surgeries, community centres, libraries and many more.
The service is provided by friendly trained specialist stop smoking advisors, who offer a non- judgemental and supportive service. They will provide practical and expert advice on the most suitable treatment for you and give a wide range of coping strategies to help you be successful. They will discuss and facilitate access to the most appropriate medication to help you stop smoking.
For more information or to book an appointment, please call the team on 0800 013 0553 and press 1 for Central Bedfordshire.
The Kick Ash programme is an award winning young person led smoking prevention programme. Year 10 pupils in upper schools are trained to work as mentors to support year 8 pupils and year 5/6 pupils in partner middle schools. The mentors act as smoke free role models and help other young people to recognise what may influence their decision to smoke and how to combat that.
The programme is in line with NICE guidance and guided by the ‘diffusion of innovation’ and ‘social learning’ theories.
On top of mentoring younger children, Kick Ash volunteers lead on other campaign activities and are supported by professionals. Activities include:
- Communications - working with the local media, coordinating events, leading social media activity
- Smoking Cessation - developing stop smoking services for young people in their school, leading no smoking day activities in their community
- Trading Standards - working with Central Bedfordshire Trading Standards team conducting business visits and test purchasing.
Rosie Michaels, lead teacher at All Saints Academy in Dunstable said ‘I think Kick Ash has the potential to make a massive impact nationally with young people. The mentors developed amazing confidence when it comes to public speaking; a task never easy when delivering presentations, particularly to your peers. Their self-esteem has increased substantially and they have all made new friends during the programme. The benefits for the school have also been fantastic. The ethos around smoking has completely changed for our students, leading to what appears to be considerably fewer students smoking on site.’
Originating in Cambridgeshire, the pilot school saw a 5% decrease (18% to 13%) in the number of year 10 students reporting that they smoked regularly compared to a 0.5% decrease across the county. Furthermore the stop smoking service has experienced a triple fold increase in the number of young people accessing stop smoking services.
For further information visit www.kickash.org.uk
To find out more information on helping people keep warm and healthy in their homes please visit our page Warm Homes Healthy People