Health & Wellbeing Feed

Sefton Mental Health Awareness Week

Tackling loneliness in Sefton this Mental Health Awareness Week

Leaders in Sefton are aiming to break the stigma of loneliness during Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), by encouraging residents to open up and talk about their experiences of loneliness and how it impacts their mental health.

Long-term loneliness is closely linked to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and isolation from loved ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard for many people and those with mental health issues have seen them worsen over the last year or so. Often people feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about feelings of loneliness and how it is affecting their mental health and wellbeing.

Local leaders from Sefton Council and the NHS in Sefton are using Mental Health Awareness Week as an opportunity to encourage conversations around loneliness. They are taking to social media using the hashtag #SeftonInMind to share information on support services in Sefton that are available to all residents to support them with their mental health, feelings of loneliness, or to offer a listening ear to anyone who just needs to talk.

Fiona Taylor, chief officer of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“Now more than ever, many of us may recognise the feelings of loneliness and isolation, but the NHS and our support services in Sefton are here to help our residents during Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond.

“We may feel embarrassed to talk about our feelings but it’s time to break the stigma and start the conversation. You’d be surprised when you open up to others, how often you will hear ‘I’ve been there’.”

Cllr Ian Moncur, cabinet member for health and wellbeing said:

“If you’ve been feeling lonely and your mental health is suffering, you are not alone. This week is a great opportunity to reach out and talk to a friend or family member, or get help from one of our support services in Sefton.

“We can also all help to tackle loneliness in our local areas by reaching out to those who may be at more risk of isolation, such as elderly people, unpaid carers and those in our LGBTQ+ community. Just starting a conversation can really help to lift someone’s spirits and give some much needed social connection.”

To find information on mental health support services in Sefton during Mental Health Awareness Week, you can search for the hashtag #SeftonInMind or follow the Sefton Council, NHS South Sefton CCG, and NHS Southport and Formby CCG social media channels.

You can also find a list of mental health support services for adults in Sefton at: or mental health support service for children and young people at:

Mental Health Awareness Week is organised every year by the Mental Health Foundation as an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. Find out more about the event at:


Be Alert for Signs of Bowel Cancer

Sefton resident urges others not to dismiss the signs of bowel cancer

Erica Squire-picsayLocal resident Erica Squire has shared the story of her bowel cancer journey during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and urges others to get checked out if they spot the signs of the disease.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer, but it is treatable and curable if it is diagnosed at an early stage.

Erica, who lives in Sefton, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017 after attending hospital with liver pain. She was referred for a colonoscopy and five tumours were found on her liver.

She said:

“My prognosis wasn’t good and I was put on palliative chemotherapy, but despite the odds I am still here, after a very long battle.”

Erica responded to her chemotherapy treatment better than expected and was referred to a specialist at Aintree Hospital after her tumours had shrunk enough to be able to operate on. In January 2018, she had part of her bowel removed and the tumours removed from her liver, followed by further chemotherapy and surgery. All of her scans to check for cancer have since been all clear.

More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms, which Erica urges other residents to look out for:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain
  • blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

Erica said:

“When I was diagnosed I had a 10% chance of survival and I went through two rounds of chemotherapy. This had a huge impact on my mental and physical health, but this can be avoided if the disease is caught early. Everyone should go for screening as soon as they are eligible, and if you have any symptoms at all, get them checked out.

“There is a lot I have learned in hindsight. I now realise that there were signs that I ignored. I was tired a lot in the six or seven months before my diagnosis. I wasn’t yawning as though I wanted to go to bed, it was a general weariness and heaviness and I felt worried, but I dismissed it.

“I had been to the doctor the previous year when I had passed a bit of blood and she asked if it could be something superficial and I said that it could be. She offered to examine me and I said it wasn’t necessary. In hindsight I should have had it investigated further.”

Dr Debbie Harvey, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“We’re urging people to be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and if any of these develop, contact your GP to get them checked out and not be embarrassed. Early diagnosis really does save lives.”

Dr Graeme Allan, clinical lead for cancer at NHS Southport and Formby CCG said:

“NHS bowel cancer screening is available to everyone aged 60 or over and 56 year olds. If you are also eligible for bowel cancer screening, make sure you complete your home test every two years when it gets sent out to you.”



Healthcare Over the Easter Holidays

How to get healthcare help in Sefton over the Easter holidays 

Easter health
Healthcare leaders are sharing advice for getting the help you need in Sefton over the Easter bank holiday weekend (15-18 April) should you become unwell.

NHS 111

People who need urgent NHS care, but it is not a 999 emergency, are advised to contact NHS 111 which is staffed by trained professionals and clinicians who will direct people to the most appropriate health service.

Dr Pete Chamberlain, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“Although there are changes to some healthcare services over the bank holiday weekend, if you’re feeling unwell, there is plenty of help and advice available from NHS 111.

“We would advise you to ‘think 111 first’ and contact the team either by visiting online to answer some questions about your condition, or by calling 111 over the phone.”

Planning ahead

Opening times for services such as pharmacies, walk in centres and GP practices may change over the bank holiday, so residents are advised to plan ahead to make sure they know where to go for help. Healthcare leaders are also urging residents to make sure they have enough supply of any medications they need by ordering their repeat prescriptions early, and getting their medicine cabinet stocked up with essentials.

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“If you do rely on medication for long term conditions, don’t leave it too late to order your repeat prescriptions before Good Friday. Pharmacies may change their opening hours over the bank holiday weekend so it’s best to be prepared.

“Pharmacists are also there for you for help with common ailments should you need them. They are highly qualified health professionals who can give free, confidential advice and help you get the right medications for everyday illnesses.”

Easter bank holiday pharmacy opening times

A number of pharmacies are open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. Residents are advised to check the opening times in the link below and to call their local pharmacy before travelling, just to make sure nothing has changed and that they are still open. Information will be added to the links as more opening times come into the CCGs.

You can view the pharmacy times here:

Anyone in Sefton can also refer to Sefton’s good health checklist, which can help you find the right health advice or treatment when you need it. You can find the good health checklist online at:


Macmillan provides cancer support to 7,000 people in Southport

Healthcare leaders in Southport are celebrating a decade of cancer support, as they mark the anniversary of the launch of the Southport Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre.

Over the past 10 years, the centre, which is a joint partnership between Macmillan and NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), has helped over 7,000 local people affected by cancer. The team has also dealt with an incredible 131,000 queries from people who use their services via the centre itself and has also offered support at numerous health and wellbeing events, support groups and meetings in the community that the dedicated team organise and attend on a regular basis. Southport Macmillan Centre staff and volunteers celebrate 10 year anniversary

Sharon Cotterall from Southport came to the centre for support following her treatment for cancer and was so grateful for the ‘life-changing’ help they gave her that she now acts as a patient representative for the centre, assisting them in recruiting new staff.

She commented:

“The person centred support I received from the Southport Macmillan Centre was fantastic and invaluable in my recovery.

“I was so grateful for their help that I wanted to make sure I do something to help their staff and service users in return.”

The centre is based on Wright Street in Southport town centre, and the team considers its central location to be crucial to delivering services and support to local people affected by cancer.

Tanya Mulvey, manager at Southport Macmillan Cancer Centre, said:

“Being based in the heart of the community means that people can visit us during their normal day-to-day activities, or reach out to us whenever they feel they need some support. Our team are always here to help, either through booked appointments or over the phone.

“Our centre provides a much more relaxed and approachable environment than in a clinical setting, as some people find it difficult to visit hospitals, which can trigger painful emotions.

“People can feel quite vulnerable after going through medical treatments for cancer so we provide ongoing emotional support in the local community, whenever they need it.”

Looking forward to the next 10 years

The centre was originally set up after local GP Dr Graeme Allan identified a need for support services for people affected by cancer and, in conjunction with Southport and Formby Primary Care Trust, submitted a bid to Macmillan Cancer Support to fund the centre. Today the centre is funded by NHS Southport and Formby CCG and maintains a close relationship with Macmillan and its standards and values.

In recent years the centre moved from Stanley Street to its new and improved premises on Wright Street and was awarded top scores for the Macmillan Quality Environment Mark (MQEM), which is Macmillan’s standard of excellence in the cancer care physical environment.

The team is also delighted to have started working with the Southport and Formby Primary Care Network (PCN), which is a group of GP practices in the area working together collaboratively. Together they have funded four new Social Prescribing Link Worker – Cancer Specialist roles in the area, who work closely with the Macmillan Centre team to provide practical and emotional support to anybody with a new cancer diagnosis.

Dr Graeme Allan, clinical lead for cancer at NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“By working together with the local PCN, every single patient facing a cancer diagnosis in our area will now be directed quickly and seamlessly to the support services they need which is a huge achievement.

“When helping patients tackle cancer, we need to treat the person as a whole, not just the disease. This kind of joined-up working in our community means that our residents will feel supported emotionally and practically, as they begin their cancer journey.”

How Macmillan can help

The centre offers a range of services and support for people affected by cancer, which can be those with a diagnosis of cancer themselves, their family, friends and carers, or even healthcare and social care professionals.

Anyone affected by cancer can visit the centre for emotional support services such as counselling and psychological support, or just to talk. They also offer a six week HOPE Course, which is a programme designed to help people gain back control of their life following a cancer diagnosis.

The centre also offers a variety of practical advice and services such as financial support, advice on benefits and help completing forms, as well as referrals to other relevant services such as dietitians, occupational therapy, social services and much more. To find out more visit their website:

If you’ve been affected by cancer and need support, please call the team on 01704 533024, Monday to Fridays, from 10am to 4pm. Or you can email: [email protected] Southport Macmillan Centre celebrates 10 year anniversary with a special cake




Help keep our vulnerable patients safe from Covid

Families and friends are being asked to carry on keeping patients safe by limiting their visits to hospital. No entry

Visiting was banned at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020 but later reintroduced in certain circumstances at many hospitals.

The Government is now removing many of the pandemic restrictions that affect people’s everyday lives – but curbs on hospital visiting remain in place.

Dr Kate Clark, Medical Director at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said:

“We know from conversations we have with patient families how distressing it can be not being able to visit freely.

“However, many of our patients are frail and vulnerable, and we must continue taking precautions to keep them safe while the potential for Covid infection remains.”

Arrangements can be made for visits by appointment to some patients who need direct support from family and friends. Support visiting to a general ward is usually limited to one person per patient or two people where the patient is at the end of their life.

Separate arrangements are in place for visits to maternity and the children’s ward at Ormskirk hospital, and North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre at Southport hospital.

Other requests to visit should be discussed with the nurse or matron in charge. Individual visiting plans can be supported in exceptional circumstances.

Dr Clark added:

“We continue to see deaths of patients with Covid. The threat from this deadly disease has not gone away. We must learn to live with Covid and still protect those at risk.”



Hospital plants tree for Queen’s jubilee

An NHS trust has joined thousands of organisations and individuals supporting Plant a Tree for Jubilee to mark the Queen's 70 years on the throne.

The Canadian Serviceberry tree, which will eventually grow up to 30ft tall, was bedded in at the entrance to Ormskirk District General Hospital by Anne-Marie Stretch, managing director of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

She said:

"We're delighted to be supporting the Queen's Green Canopy initiative to mark Her Majesty's platinum jubilee - and it's a pleasure to know this tree will be providing joy, shelter and shade for generations to come."

The tree was gifted by Trust contractors EFT Construction Ltd, of Southport.

Everyone from individuals to scout and girl guiding groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and corporates have been encouraged to play a part enhancing their local area by planting trees for the jubilee year.

As well as inviting the planting of new trees, the Queen’s Green Canopy will dedicate a network of 70 ancient woodlands across the UK and identify 70 ancient trees to celebrate the anniversary. 

Ormskirk treeplanting-picsay

The picture shows managing director Anne-Marie Stretch with Phil Greenough, the Trust’s Head of Hard Facilities Management