GP Blog

In this blog, you will find information and medical advice from Dr James Booth and Dr Liz Towers (MECCG elected GP Board members) on a variety of health and wellbeing topics.

Dr James BoothDr Booth is a GP and partner at Melbourne House Surgery in Chelmsford. His interest is children's mental health and is the CCGs named GP for safeguarding adults and children.

 

Elizabeth Towers for webDr Towers has been a GP at Whitley House Surgery in Chelmsford for 30 years having spent three years as a junior doctor in the Chelmsford area. She is interested in cancer and end of life care and became a Macmillan GP in 2010.

Immunisations - Protect your child now and in the future

The 24th-30th April this year is European Immunisation Week, and an opportunity for me and my colleagues to emphasise the importance of the vaccinations that we offer all children registered at our surgeries. It’s an unusual day when my practice nurses aren’t seeing a baby or two for their immunisations, and out of all the many services I offer at my surgery, I don’t believe there is anything safer and more beneficial to my patients. The GP of two or three generations ago would commonly deal with some truly awful infections in babies and young children: illnesses like diphtheria, polio, and whooping cough that caused untold misery and indeed cases of lasting disability and death. Thanks to the immunisation programmes of the last decades, these illnesses are now either very rare, or extinct: the whole of Europe was declared polio-free in 2002. More recently, we have seen newer vaccines become available for children – we now vaccinate children against viruses that cause diarrhoea and sickness, and against some of the bacteria that can cause meningitis.

Some immunisations have had some controversy around them in the last several years. However, the scare stories around immunisations such as the MMR are exactly that – stories. The safety of all of these immunisations, and especially the MMR, has been demonstrated time and time again through studies of huge numbers of children. My own daughters have had all of their immunisations according to the schedule that all of your children will be offered, and I don’t know of a single health professional with children who hasn’t done the same.

On the noticeboard above my desk, I have a picture of my medical hero – Dr Edward Jenner, the Gloucestershire doctor who invented the first immunisation, for smallpox, in 1796. He is the only doctor in history who can claim that his work has completely eradicated a disease from mankind, and millions of people since owe their lives and wellbeing to the work that followed from him. Each immunisation that we offer is a small medical miracle, and I still find it remarkable that something that has become so commonplace is still saving the lives of children on a daily basis.

More information on protecting your child now and in the future with immunisations can be found in Mid Essex CCG's Common Childhood Illness and Wellbeing handbook.

NHS Choices also has a useful series of pages about the immunisation schedule and this also includes some frequently asked questions. Your GP, practice nurse or health visitor would also be happy to answer any questions about them. The vaccination of every child is absolutely vital to prevent diseases and protect life; I believe that it is the single most useful and important service I offer as a GP.

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

This month we are supporting Blood Cancer Awareness Month. According to Bloodwise a UK based charity, 96% of people don't know that blood cancer is one of the biggest cancer killers, and 91% don't know it's one of the most common cancers.

In this blog post MECCG Clinical Lead and Macmillian GP for mid Essex, Dr Liz Towers explains what blood cancers are, common symptoms and what treatments are available.

Protect your child in the sun

Dr James Booth explains how best to protect your little ones from the sun.

Children love playing outdoors especially in the sunshine but if you don’t protect their skin you could be risking their health.

A moderate amount of sunshine is good for all of us. It provides essential vitamin D, which we need for good health, it improves our mood and helps promote better sleep – just what you need if you have small children to entertain!

However, too much sun can be damaging. So protecting your child from the sun not only prevents painful sunburn but also reduces their risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Men - get yourself checked!

On average men go to their GP half as often as women. This may in part be the reason why 100,000 men a year die prematurely.

Men may feel embarrassed in seeking help, or hope their symptoms will “just get better”.

In this blog, Dr Liz Towers talks about two specific men’s health issues; testicular cancer and prostate cancer and why it is important to get yourself checked. 

Talking about dying won't make it happen

Everyone knows the saying: “There are two certainties in life - death and taxes”.

While I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have an opinion on taxes, death is still a subject that, for most of us, remains taboo.

While other countries, such as Mexico, hold celebrations for the dead, here in the UK we still avoid having a frank and open conversation about something that comes to us all.

It isn’t an easy subject to talk about, but it is one that needs discussing, which is why I’m writing this blog to coincide with Dying Matters Week.