Health Matters – April

Five Issues in this month’s Health Matters

  • Covid Update
  • Vaccination Situation
  • Your Nose
  • Diabetes Prevention
  • The NHS Recovery App

1. Covid Update

It’s still bouncing around in St Albans; so here are the key figures in terms of daily cases for St Albans District:

Pre Omicron Peak – 770 cases per 100,00 in Jan 2021
First Omicron Peak (BA1) – Dec 22 –1,956
It dropped to 871
Second Omicron Peak (BA2) – 1,642 on Jan 28
It dropped to 329
Third Omicron Peak (XE)– it’s gone back up to 2,142 on March 29

It dropped to 1,741 just before Easter and is now up to 2,049
So the question is …… will we see a new peak?

Hospitalisation is up a bit on last month – around from around 70 to 90 in each of Watford and the Lister; but the high infection rate means the isolation level is high which is causing staff shortages.

And finally on Covid let’s be clear who is eligible for Vaccination

2. Covid Vaccine Eligibility

  • Everyone aged 5 and over can get a 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • People aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, can also get a booster dose
  • People aged 12 and over who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their first 2 doses, will be offered a 3rd dose and a booster (4th dose).
  • People aged 75 and over, people who live in care homes for older people, and people aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system, will be offered a spring booster.

NB injections need to be at least 3 months apart; and for boosters the recommendation is 6 months.

There are no large vaccination centres in St Albans at the moment but the best option is that there are 12 Pharmacies doing the vaccinations – you can get the full list at – this page also has full booking instructions but if you’re uncertain about anything call 119.

3. Your Nose   – We had our first SA Podcast Health Matters  webinar last week on “Love Your Nose”; there were over 100 people on it! Now the Nose may not sound very exciting but  actually it was a fabulous talk and the Consultant explained how to deal with all the common problems about the nose – snoring, sinusitis, hay fever, nose bleeds etc. Together with ailments that are much more complex.

I found the explanation of what the nose actually does quite fascinating. Our speaker likened the nose to an air conditioning unit; it does our

  • Breathing – try breathing through your mouth continuously and you’ll soo recognise how much better the experience is when it comes through your nose! But it also
  • Humidifies the air as it comes in
  • It filters out all the germs (or as we’ve discovered with colds, flu and Covid) most of them!)
  • It actually warms the air we breathe in winter and cools it down in the summer
  • It provides us with our sense of smell; and, one that most people are unaware of
  • It provides resonance to our voice – without the nose our voice would always sound rather muffled.

You can see the recording of the webinar here

Next month’s webinar is on “There’s Blood in My Poo” = you can register here

4. Pre Diabetes – There are over 30,000 people in our area (in addition to St Albans that includes Watford, Hemel Hempstead, and Potters Bar; that’s a very high number, but there are over 45,000 people who are at risk of Diabetes in our area! So in late May – when Diabetes-UK are running a Pre Diabetes Week – we’ll be running a special webinar for people at risk of Diabetes. If you get an invite to it from your Surgery, then at least you’ll know its provenance!

5. Hospital Waiting Times App – As we all know hospital waiting times for elective treatments are really horrendous. Let’s explain that term “elective”; the need for treatment (surgical or medical) is classified as either acute or elective; if it’s acute then it simply can’t wait and so elective treatment is something that can (in medical opinion although not necessarily in the eyes of the patient) can be delayed.

As part of the Recovery Plan we were promised a new NHS App to support people through the waiting period; here is the link to the section relevant to us in St Albans .

To be frank, the app is underwhelming; It just gives you the average waiting time for each discipline (remember in the podcast just before Christmas; I reported that the local Commissioning Group said that waiting times were prioritised based on severity!); so what’s the point of telling us an average?! It also has a link to a ”One Stop Clinic” which has a lot of boiler plate copy that provides additional information.

If you’re waiting for treatment, I really do hope it’s not too long a wait!

Alan Bellinger
20th April 2020

Alan Bellinger Written by:

Alan is a Trustee of Healthwatch Hertfordshire and very well engaged with all things related to Health & Social Care within the Community. After retirement from a successful career in the private sector (working in both training and Information Technology), Alan wanted to get involved in supporting local health issues and has an excellent understanding of what it takes to ensure a great patient experience, Alan has lived in St Albans for well over 65 years; he is a widower with two children and he especially enjoys the company of his five grandchildren – four of whom live in the local area.

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