Health Matters – March 2023

  • Covid Update
  • Covid & Starlings
  • Cough Medicine
  • Bowel Screening
  • Breast Cancer
  • Diabetes

1. Covid & Flu  –  I almost removed Covid and flu from my list of subjects this week – it’s been headlining Health Matters since the start of the pandemic which is far too long. But there’s just four things to say about it and then we’ll move on!

  • The case rate remains low at 58 per 100,000, but that’s up from 45 last week – for comparison, it’s 73 in Watford!
  • Chiswell Green is the highest area in St Albans with 163 cases per 100,000
  • The numbers in hospital are up compared to last month – Lister up from 59 to 66 and Watford up from 44 to 63.
  • Covid Vaccinations – it’s been announced that there will be a Spring Booster starting in early APR; it covers:
    • Over 75 on JUN 30 2023Residents in Care Homes for older adults
    • Immuno-compromised 5 and over.

2. Covid & Starlings – did you know that one of the consequences of Covid was good news for pigeons but bad news for starlings! There are over 30 pairs of breeding falcons in London – one of the largest urban concentrations of the raptors anywhere in the world. And over the last three years the Peregrines have eaten:

  • 15% less feral pigeons and made up for it by eating
  • 7% more starlings, and
  • 3% more ring-tailed parakeets.

And the question is ….. why? The theory is that, due to Covid we spent less time in central London as a result of lockdown – there was firstly the fact that people were working from home, and secondly the fact that people went out less. So fewer people around, less food dropped for pigeons so the population fell, and the peregrines needed to find alternate food sources.

3. Cough Medicines – Two questions for our listener to consider –

  • Do you have any medicines in your cupboard for a “dry cough”; if so, it’ll probably contain Pholcodene;
  • And if it does, is there any probability that you’re likely to have an operation within the next 13 months?

The latest research shows that Pholcodene and Anaesthetics don’t mix and so those dry cough medicines with Pholcodene have been taken off the shelves as from yesterday (Tuesday 14th March). The advice is to use other medications; although remember hot honey and lemon is a great alternative!

If you have taken medicine for dry cough and unexpectedly need an operation, they may well ask you about it …. But be sure to tell the anaethetist!

4. Bowel Screening Program – the NHS message is “Your Next Poo Could Save Your Life!” So this is the regular NHS Bowel Screening Program. Those little Kits where you have to do a scrape and a smear were being mailed out last week and it’s crucial that you do it and send it back. From data I’ve seen, around a third of the people in our area who get the kits don’t return them and that’s really sad because Bowel Cancer, caught early, the chances of beating the cancer are increased by up to 9 times!

People aged 58-74 get the kit and if you’re over 74 and want the test call 0800 707 60 60. So when your kit arrives just remember “Your Next Poo Could Save Your Life” and also remember you heard it first on the St Albans Podcast!

5. Breast Cancer – I chaired the latest of the Podcast Health webinars last night, and it was all about Breast Health. Ms Cheryl Lobo explained how important it is to have your mammogram done regularly. Caught early there’s as close to a 100% survival rate as you can get; left too late and that probability drops to 15%, so make sure you go to the screening next time you’re called. The video will be uploaded to the Health Webinars page of this site as soon as it is ready

6. Are You At Risk Of Diabetes?– follow this link to find out.

And if you are at risk, then this webinar is for you!

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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