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What are the Alternatives to HRT?

Private GPs

In this post, our private GPs have summarised some of the symptoms you may experience during the menopause and some non-hormonal approaches for managing them. Members of the British Menopause Society, our private doctors Hala and Lucy have a special interest in the menopause.

Many women opt to avoid using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) during the peri-menopause and menopause due to concerns about risk (which we address in this blog post). This may be due to personal or family history of breast or gynaecological cancers.

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal oestrogen creams, pessaries or a vaginal ring which contains oestradiol can treat Vaginal dryness. This mimics the oestrogen a woman would produce before becoming menopausal. Unlike HRT, there is no systemic absorption so these don’t carry the risks that HRT would.

Vaginal rings can help prevent recurrent urine infections women can be plagued with following the menopause. Vaginal moisturiser and silicone-based lubricants are also very good if sex has become painful.

Ospemifene is a selective oestrogen receptor modulator that has an oestrogen-like effect in the vagina. It is non-hormonal and is being used to treat vaginal atrophy, and it may prove invaluable for oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer sufferers.

Prescriptible Drugs for Hot Flushes and Sweats

The jury is still out about this, but low doses of SSRIs and SNRIs (forms of antidepressants) have been shown to reduce hot flushes and night sweats, as has a drug called Gabapentin which is often used for atypical pain or epilepsy.

Pregabalin is a controlled drug which has similar results to Gabapentin. It seems to be better tolerated but is more expensive. Clonidine is the only licensed medication at present but isn’t suitable for patients with a low baseline blood pressure.

Alternatives to HRT

Potential Alternatives to HRT

Always seek a medical professional to discuss the management of menopause symptoms. If you’d like to speak to one of our private GPs about the alternatives to HRT, please call our practice on 0333 050 7338.

  • Pregnenolone – This seems to work well for the ‘mind fog’: poor concentration, poor memory, and poor sleep cycle associated with perimenopause and menopause. This is a non-licensed drug via private prescription only.
  • 5HTP – This is a non-licensed drug via private prescription only. The dosage is 100mg at night; it is also said to be good for sleep.
  • Vitamin D – Low levels of vitamin D are associated with low bone density and tiredness. It’s an essential vitamin to take especially during the British winter. 800-1000 units a day are recommended for maintenance therapy.
  • Evening primrose and fish oil – This works well for breast tenderness.
  • Magnesium – This proves to be good for anxiety and labile mood.
  • Chromium – Good for sugar cravings.
  • Multi-Vitamin B – Some evidence suggests that vitamin B may help with stress-induced anxiety.
  • Black cohosh, isoflavones and St. John’s wart – the jury is still out on this. Don’t take this without telling a doctor as it can interfere with liver metabolism and stop other important prescription medication from working. Breast cancer survivors should not use them.
  • Acupuncture – women do report some improvement in symptoms after having acupuncture treatment but studies show this is likely to be a placebo effect.
  • CBT – there’s good evidence that CBT can help with low mood and anxiety caused by the menopause.

One of the most important factors to consider is lifestyle as this can play a huge part in symptom relief. Cutting back on alcohol, spicy food and caffeine will help ease symptoms. Plus, weight loss (if BMI is over normal range) can be very helpful.

Smoking will make hot flushes worse and increase cardiovascular risk. Aerobic and weight-bearing exercise reduces flushes and sweats and it could increase bone density.

Fezolinetant

Fezolinetant is a new drug; it’s undergoing studies and currently only available in research settings. However, all of the evidence is pointing toward the fact it may help with hot flushes and sweats in women who cannot have hormonal treatment.

If you’d like to speak to our private GPs about the alternatives to HRT or to find out more about the symptoms of menopause, contact us on 0333 050 7338.

What are the Benefits and Risks of HRT?

Private GPs

Here at Linbury Doctors, our private GPs Hala and Lucy, are members of the British Menopause Society and have undertaken training in the menopause. This series of blog posts delves further into the science behind menopause, and how to treat symptoms. In this post, we discuss the benefits and risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

If you haven’t read our previous blog post about what HRT is, you can do so by clicking here.

Misconceptions of HRT: The Million Women Study

Concerns over HRT safety were raised in 2002 and 2003 by the Million Women Study. The two main concerns raised were an increased risk of breast cancer and a raised risk of cardiovascular disease.

An urgent safety warning was released and the numbers of women taking HRT fell by 66%. That has only just started to change after 10 years so we have a whole decade of women who have mostly been denied the opportunity to benefit from HRT.

Many doctors stopped prescribing it and the workforce deskilled. The women in the study were north American, mostly overweight, often in their mid-sixties and therefore were not representative of who HRT would be appropriate for from a risk profile point of view. There has since been a retraction of some of the findings and recent studies have shown there is no increased cardiovascular risk on women who start HRT within ten years of starting the menopause.

benefits and risks of hrt

HRT risk can be lowered if:

  • Taken for the correct reasons
  • Taken for as long as necessary at the lowest possible dose
  • HRT users have access to their GP at least once a year

Proven Benefits:

  • Control of menopausal symptoms
  • Maintenance of bone density and reduced risk of osteoporotic fracture

Potential Benefits

  • Reduced coronary heart disease risk
  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s when started early
  • Reduced colorectal cancer risk
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes

If you’d like to speak to our private GPs, please get in touch with us on 0333 050 7338. Here at Linbury Doctors, we put our patients at the core of everything we do and always provide premium healthcare and advice.

Risks of HRT

Blood Clots

This risk is only applicable to oral preparations and not on the patch or gel. There is a raised stroke risk when oral HRT is started in women over 60.

Cardiovascular risk

This risk is only if HRT is started over the age of 60. Studies have shown that if HRT is started within 10 years of the menopause, it may actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Breast Cancer

HRT does not affect the risk of dying from breast cancer. HRT with oestrogen alone is associated with little or no increase in breast cancer. HRT with oestrogen and progesterone can be associated with a small increase in the risk of breast cancer.

The current view is that HRT may promote the growth of breast cancer cells already present rather than causing the breast cancer itself. It should be noted that being overweight or drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week carries a higher breast cancer risk than HRT.

There is likely to be an extra 3-4 cases of breast cancer per 1000 women after 5 years use of HRT after the age of 50, if started within a ten-year window of the menopause.

Linbury Doctors Private GPs

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits and risks of HRT, get in touch with our private doctors on 0333 050 7338. We can advise you on the best course of action if you are suffering from the symptoms of menopause.

What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Bioidentical HRT?

Private GPs

Our private GPs, Hala and Lucy, have a special interest in the menopause and are members of the British Menopause Society. In this blog post, they delve into the treatment of menopause symptoms and how Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) works. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of menopause or would like to talk to a healthcare professional, do get in touch with our private doctors on 0333 050 7338.

What is HRT?

Hormone Replacement Therapy is used for the treatment of menopause symptoms, such as night sweats and hot flushes. It works by replacing hormone levels that drop as you approach the menopause.

All types of traditional HRT contain oestrogen so it’s often started at later stages when progesterone levels are very low and oestrogen levels start to drop.

Administering HRT

HRT is also needed in premature menopause to maintain bone density. It’s important to note that, if you still have a womb (no hysterectomy) and just take oestrogen, the womb lining could build up and become a cancer risk. Therefore, HRT is co-prescribed with a generic dose of progesterone to stop this from happening.

Sometimes both oestrogen and progesterone are synthetic, and sometimes just the progesterone is. This means that these synthetic hormones are not identical to the ones found in the human body and are given in standard doses. If you are still having periods, it will be given in a cyclical manner. If your periods have stopped, it will be given continuously.

The benefits of HRT include reduction of night sweats and flushes, reversal of vaginal changes, improved mood and sleep. It can also help with joint aches and pains, skin and hair texture, as well as reduced bone thinning. Evidence concerning heart disease and dementia prevention is still controversial.

What is HRT

What are the risks?

The risks of taking HRT include blood clots in the veins, breast cancer in women over 50 (note there is no increased risk in women under 50), a small increase in risk of stroke, and possible increase in risk of ovarian cancer which goes on stopping the HRT.

The most important thing to bear in mind when discussing risk is to consider personal and family medical history. So, each case must be thoroughly discussed with a doctor. Our private GPs can help advise you in the best course of action. If you’d like to get in touch, please contact 0333 050 7338.

Contraception

HRT doesn’t act as a contraceptive. So, you would need to continue your method of contraception for two years if your last period took place under the age of 50, or for one year if your last period took place when you were over 50.

HRT can be given in combined tablet (carries a clot risk), a combined patch (no clot risk) or in the form of a gel or patch (no clot risk) in combination with a Mirena coil.

Bioidentical HRT

The aim of bioidentical HRT is that both hormones – oestrogen (in the form of oestradiol) and progesterone – mimic those that are produced naturally before the menopause.

It would be wrong to call bioidentical HRT ‘natural’ as you are still replacing something that a woman wouldn’t be producing after going through the menopause.

Bioidentical HRT is normally given in the form of an oestradiol patch or gel along with a progesterone capsule called Utrogestan that is taken at night. The benefits of it from the point of view of reliving menopausal symptoms should be identical to that of traditional HRT.

About 1 in 20 women cannot absorb through the skin and therefore find the patches and gels ineffective at relieving their symptoms. This is the same for both the traditional and bioidentical HRT approach. Bioidentical HRT is still relatively new but, to date, the safety data is looking really good; it is pointing towards the fact it may be lower risk than the synthetic HRT approach.

Here at Linbury Doctors, we are delighted to offer doctors with specialist menopausal training; they are experienced in prescribing bioidentical HRT. If you’d like to speak to our private GPs, please call the practice on 0333 050 7338, or email info@linburydoctors.co.uk.

Why do some COVID symptoms last so long?

Here at Linbury Doctors, our private GP services cover keeping you up-to-date with the latest news. In this blog post, we look into the symptoms of Coronavirus and why they might vary from person to person. We all know by now that Covid is not your average cold or flu. In some cases, symptoms can remain for a long while after initial infection. So, why is this?

Research suggests that up to 87% of people with Coronavirus go on to experience symptoms related to the virus for more than a month after they were first infected.

For some people, their symptoms continue for months and for others, symptoms seem to come and go.

private gp services

The British Society for Immunology states that, “Every individual’s immune system is as unique as their fingerprints, and so different people can respond to a virus in different ways.” However, some people can be more susceptible to severe effects than others, including the elderly and those who suffer with underlying health problems. This is because these people may have weakened immune systems that struggle to keep the response to particular pathogens under control.

On average, the time between catching the virus and experiencing the first symptoms is from three to 14 days. These symptoms can include:

  • Persistent, dry cough
  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of taste
  • High fever

If you, or anyone you’ve been in contact with, has experienced one or more of these symptoms, you may wish to book a COVID test. Here at Linbury Doctors, we offer private GP services; our members can receive Covid Test results back the same day. Contact us on 0333 050 7338 for more information.

The Theories

Long term symptoms of COVID (often referred to as ‘long COVID’) could be due to an inflammatory response, suggested by The British Society for Immunology’s report. As inflammation is a natural response to injuries, a Coronavirus infection could cause the body to flare-up this way, meaning it could take more time for the symptoms of the virus to lessen.

In some cases, the virus may have been cleared from most of the body, but continue to “linger in some small pockets”, according to the BBC. For example, if the virus is in the gut, there may be cases of long-term diarrhoea, whereas if the virus is in the nerves then people may experience loss of smell.

Some medical professionals believe that people suffer from long COVID due to an overactive immune response; this can also cause damage throughout the body, however this is not yet confirmed officially.

There are many theories surrounding why some people suffer from long-term COVID symptoms, however there are no definitive answers yet. The virus only emerged at the end of 2019 so therefore there’s a lack of long-term data. However, the BBC stated that “the number of people with long COVID appears to be falling with time”.

If you’re suffering from any symptoms of Coronavirus, contact us for a private COVID test and receive the results the same day. Contact us on 0333 050 7338 for more information about our private GP services.

Sources:

How does the COVID Vaccine work?

We would like to share more insight into how the COVID vaccine will work, but before that; it is important to start this blog post by saying vaccines, in general, save more lives than any other medicine and come only second to clean water when it comes to preventing disease. Vaccines have been given to billions of people and have shown to be safe. They have become so successful that we have lost sight of many fatal diseases like measles, mumps and rubella. Instead, we’re left with no disease, and all everyone sees is a side effect from the vaccine, so they often get a bad press.

Here at Linbury Doctors, we offer private COVID tests with 48-hour results. Click here to find out more information, or get in touch with us on 0333 050 7338.

How do they work?

Most vaccines work by stimulating the immune system so it thinks it has met the disease before and fought it off. A lot of the vaccines we are used to are ‘attenuated pathogens’. This means taking a virus or bacteria and making it so it doesn’t cause that infection anymore but induces an immune response. They are called ‘replicating vaccines’, and some precautions sometimes need to be exercised in the immunosuppressed.

With Influenza, for instance, we take the virus, grow it, render it non-infectious by vaccinating with parts of the virus which triggers an immune response. This means if you were to come into contact with it, your body would be able to respond by releasing the immune cells needed as it had been tricked into thinking you’ve had it before.

There are several myths around, such as ‘the flu vaccine gives you flu’. But there is no possibility of this as the ingredients are inactive. We know it’s safe and it works.

Side effects are common, such as a short-lasting fever and a sore arm. Sometimes, the vaccine doesn’t work as well as we would like but that’s about matching the seasonal strain. We believe it to be a good match for the 2020 year.

What safety checks does the COVID vaccine have to pass before it can be used?

As the different variants of the COVID vaccine are being rolled out, they will be in rigorous trials. Once the trials have passed through the relevant stages, the regulator gives approval for the vaccine.

In the UK, the regulator is the MHRA. The Pfizer vaccine was approved by the MHRA a few weeks ago and has just received emergency approval from the FDA (American regulator).

Even after the vaccine receives approvals, safety checks are still carried out and any effects are reported and reviewed.

Who decides who receives the vaccine?

The joint committee on vaccination and immunisation has independent experts who decide how the vaccine programme is rolled out.

mRNA Vaccines (Pfizer/Moderna)

Both the Pfizer and Moderna jabs use technology known as mRNA, which introduces into the body a messenger sequence that contains the genetic instructions for the vaccinated person’s own cells to produce the antigens and generate an immune response.

It does not alter human cells but merely presents the body with instructions to build immunity to Coronavirus. These are new, but not completely new, as they have been used in oncology and other clinical settings.

Here at Linbury Doctors, we offer private COVID tests and can get the results back to our members on the same day. If you are currently suffering from symptoms, then get in touch with your private doctor directly, or give the practice a call on 0333 050 7338.

Concerned by the speed of the COVID-19 vaccine development?

With most vaccine development, it takes a long time to study and get the evidence as the infection pool is so small. With COVID-19, there was a huge infection pool, so we have been able to study the numbers needed in a small period of time.

The mRNA vaccines have been tested on up to 40,000 individuals, so they have been tested on the same number of individuals as any other previous vaccine in circulation. We know these vaccines are not causing severe adverse effects at this scale. Acute side effects are common, like being feverish next day or having a sore arm, but this is a strong signal that they are giving the immune system a kick and reassures you that your body is mounting a good immune response.

We know the first two vaccines prevent people from becoming unwell with COVID-19 and prevent serious illness. However, we don’t data have to see if they block transmission at present. As private doctors, we know that the risk of having serious consequences from getting COVID-19 – even if you’re not in a vulnerable category – is significantly higher than the risk of suffering mild side effects from the mRNA vaccines.

There have been some concerns raised that the mRNA vaccines may influence your chromosomes, but this is a myth; they are particularly safe as don’t penetrate the nucleus of cells. Plus, they are cleared from the system within 72 hours. There is therefore no link to mRNA vaccines and genetic modification.

The Pfizer vaccine has passed rigorous safety checks and, very recently, we received the welcomed news it has also passed emergency FDA approval so it will be rolled out in the United States.

The MHRA are continuing to monitor for side-effects, but only 2 people out of the thousands who received the vaccination in the first week developed allergic reactions.

Therefore, the advice has changed so that people with previous severe allergic reactions are unable to receive the Pfizer vaccine and the situation is being monitored.

AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccination

The Oxford vaccine works like a traditional vaccination, more like the attenuated vaccines already discussed. It uses a harmless virus altered to look a lot more like the pandemic virus. An attenuated ‘spike protein’ of the virus is injected which the immune system builds up a response to as if the real virus has entered the body. Therefore, if you then come into contact with COVID-19, the body’s immune system will recognise this ‘spike protein’ and raise the immune response.

Source: BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-55149138

Two full doses of the Oxford vaccine gave 62% protection, a half dose followed by a full dose was 90% and overall, the trial showed 70% protection.

Should I have the vaccine if I have had COVID?

Yes, is the short answer. We have no idea how long natural immunity will last, how good it will be and how durable. The current recommendation would be to have the vaccine if offered, even if you have had a proven COVID-19 infection.

If you are a member of Linbury Doctors, we can arrange for you to have a private COVID test, with a same-day result. Get in touch with your private GP to discuss, or give us a call on 0333 050 7338.

Key Facts from our Private GPs about The Menopause

Our private GPs, Dr Lucy and Dr Hala have a special interest in the menopause and will be writing regular updates on here on our blog. In this post, we’ll cover what the menopause and peri-menopause are and what we may experience in these stages.

Peri-Menopause and The Menopause

A natural menopause occurs when your ovaries stop producing eggs and oestrogen. The time leading up to your last period is called the peri-menopause and symptoms are often experienced as both progesterone and oestrogen levels decrease.

Symptoms can start anytime in your 40s and can be difficult to diagnose. The perimenopause can be a tough time for a lot of women and is often misdiagnosed as depression, low mood or other functional disorders. As private GPs, we always take into consideration all possible diagnoses, taking the time to truly understand any underlying causes.

The average age for the menopause in the UK is 51. If the menopause occurs before the age of 45, it is called early, and if it occurs before the age of 40 it is termed premature ovarian insufficiency. Certain things can cause an early menopause such as surgery to remove the ovaries, radiotherapy to the pelvic region, some chemo drugs, and hereditary conditions, but often no cause is found.

Quick Facts

  • ⅓ of women will go through the menopause without experiencing symptoms
  • ⅓ of women will experience debilitating symptoms of the menopause
  • ⅓ of women will suffer with moderate or acceptable symptoms

What are the Symptoms of the Menopause?

Irregular periods

As ovulation becomes more unpredictable, the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be light to heavy, and you may skip some periods.

Hot flushes and sleep problems

Hot flushes are common during peri-menopause. The intensity, length and frequency vary. Sleep problems are often due to hot flushes or night sweats, but sometimes sleep becomes unpredictable even without them.

Mood changes

Mood swings, irritability or increased risk of depression may happen during perimenopause. This could be a result of interrupted sleep which happens as a result of the hot flushes. 

Vaginal and bladder problems

As oestrogen levels drop, the vaginal tissue loses its lubrication and becomes weakened. This can make intercourse painful and uncomfortable. It can also cause repeated urine infections 

Decreased fertility

Ovulation lessens around the time of the menopause however it can still happen sporadically. It is advisable to carry on using contraception and discuss with your doctor how long to continue it for.

Decreased bone mass and heightened risk of osteoporosis

 As oestrogen levels drop, more bone is lost than is made. Women who go through the menopause early are at high risk of osteoporosis.

Changing cholesterol levels

As oestrogen levels drop the LDL (bad cholesterol) starts to rise and the HDL (good cholesterol) starts to drop. 

Skin and hair changes

Thinning of the hair and dry skin are commonly seen during the menopause. 

It is important to speak to your doctor or private GP if you are suffering from any of the symptoms or think you are going through the menopause. It is especially important if you are worried you are going through a pre-mature menopause as hormones serve to have protective functions and you will likely need treatment.

Our private GPs have a special interest in the menopause and are members of the British Menopause Society. They have just completed the annual British Menopause Society update and will be bringing you more and more information over the coming weeks!

Please do get in touch with us on 0333 050 7338 if you’d like to find out more about becoming a Linbury Doctors member.

What is the rapid COVID antigen test?

The new rapid COVID test is a new test which looks for antigens for COVID-19. Antigens are portions of the virus that induce an immune response in your body. COVID antigen tests are being referred to as a ‘lateral flow test’. In the news recently the rapid tests are undergoing trials in Liverpool and some airports.

How does it work?

The COVID rapid antigen test is performed via a nasopharyngeal swab. We swab in the nostril to the back of the nasal cavity – a bit like the current COVID (PCR) swabs we currently undertake with our patients.  The swab is then mixed with a special solution and placed on a cassette and it takes just 15 minutes to show a result.

The accuracy of these results:

Sensitivity: 100%

Specificity: 96%

Accuracy 98%

The COVID rapid antigen tests have been studied in large studies in Europe, and followed up with PCR swabs ensuring their accuracy. If patients show a positive result its recommended to have a follow up with a PCR test to confirm the result. We always recommend our members to have a swab if they have symptoms. 

The data for the tests looks very reassuring. Currently several manufacturers can produce the kit, but right now they haven’t been approved by Public Health England.

What could the rapid antigen tests be used for?

  • Members and their households. Please discuss this on a case by case basis with your dedicated GP. 
  • Corporate testing

The rapid antigen tests may come in useful as a quick in-house test to help businesses begin to get back to normal. The tests will still need to be administered by a health care professional or a member of the Linbury Doctors team.

If corporate testing is sis of interest as a business need or for household testing, please contact your personal doctor. info@linburydoctors.co.uk 

What the rapid antigen cannot be used for: 

Travel: The rapid test isn’t the right test to obtain a travel certificate. If you do need a travel certificate, the PCR swab is the test you need.

Prior to hospital procedures

If you need a COVID test before you attend a hospital procedure, a PCR swab is the test you need.

Contact with positive cases and reduction of isolation times

If your rapid test has a negative result, you should still self-isolate if you’ve been asked to do so. Any advice made by Public Health England still needs to be followed.

WATCH OUT FOR….You may find some places offering these new rapid antigen tests for a low price. Always make sure any rapid tests you have are CE approved and are given by a registered healthcare professional.

CALL YOUR PERSONAL GP TO DISCUSS- We are always happy to chat to you… 

At Linbury Doctors we are now able to offer the rapid COVID antigen test. Our members can have the rapid antigen test as an addition to our same day PHE approved PCR swabs. We do still recommend that you have the PCR swab after a rapid test. We are happy to discuss this on a case by case basis. 

However we still recommend following Government guidelines. 

The COVID Vaccine.

The COVID vaccine that has been in the news over the last week is being developed by Pfizer and BioNtTech. The final phase of the trial has been completed and shows that the vaccine is 95% effective. 

The new COVID-19 vaccine that is going to give us back normality and let us live life as we once knew it is coming soon. Patients have been asking us about this COVID vaccine and if we can deliver it. 

About the vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees celsius. The logistics of how this will be stored pre-vaccination is still uncertain, but the government is currently planning how to roll this out effectively. The vaccine needs to be delivered in two doses 4-6 weeks apart. 

The medication is drawn up in a vial; unlike the influenza vaccine, which comes readily drawn up to be delivered. It needs to be checked by two healthcare professionals before being administered. The patient then needs to be observed for fifteen minutes to look out for any immediate side-effects. However, better candidates are likely to be those being developed by the US drug company, Moderna, and Astra-Zenica being developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford. 

Both are expected to be rolled out in the next few months and are also expected to be at least 90% effective but are easier to store. The Moderna vaccine is looking to be 95% effective, but the final data from the trials is not out yet. This vaccine has an easier storage solution and is likely to be available in Spring 2021 in the UK.  

When will the vaccine be available?

As these are all new vaccines, we do not yet know the full extent of any side-effects, let alone how long immunity might last, though scientists are hopeful it will be a fair few months. We do, however, know that the Government are, already, preparing for national vaccination programmes. The vaccination programme is expected to be rolled out to NHS workers, those over 85 and care home workers first.  How it is to be distributed thereafter is yet to be decided. 

We will be making assessments as to how this could be delivered safely at home. This will depend upon how easy it is to obtain the vaccine privately, any complications in respect of storage and the possible side-effects.

How we will update our members.

We aim to keep our members updated regularly with information. We are in regular talks with our colleagues in the NHS and private GPs in London about the vaccine and how it can be delivered safely and effectively. 

Drop us a line at info@linburydoctors.co.uk if you would like any more information.

Coronavirus pandemic – It’s ok to not be ok.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live and placed pressures on all of our lives in different ways and for a lot of us; its increased anxiety levels. Tensions with work, family, losing support networks, juggling work and childcare, they are all persistent worries and anxieties it has brought into our lives. 

We heard a wonderful phrase which is relevant to this feeling of unrest, and that is; ‘We are weathering the same storm, but all in different boats’. All of us have a different level of anxiety when it comes to our mental health, particularly when it comes to COVID-19 and being respectful and sympathetic of each others’ triggers’ is essential.

Asking for help – support 

As a doctor, I always signpost my patients to MIND.org.uk for self-help advice that may be of use. Of course, some patients need different levels of input but connecting with other people who are going through similar things and realising you are not alone is always helpful. 

Asking for help may seem like a burden to some people, but support is always available. It really helps to talk to those close to you and seek medical help if you are feeling low. Our team can always help too, to find out more about our membership and out of hours care head here

Exercise

Another helpful thing to do to help ease your anxiety levels is exercise regularly. Regular fresh air and outdoor activities will help boost our immune system, help us stay healthy and release those endorphins. This doesn’t have to be starting a complicated exercise regime but merely something simple like a brisk walk working up to something more challenging as your fitness improves.

The Couch to 5k programme is a great way to get moving and build up some stamina. This can also be done with a friend in a socially distanced manner. Charities are struggling for funding at the moment, so setting an easy target and raising some money may provide good motivation.

What can we do as a community to help us cope and adapt? 

Life has changed, we can only meet in small groups, and that is dependent on what tier we are in. At the start of lockdown neighbourhoods connected and a sense of camaraderie was present, we must keep this going. Stay in touch with those close to you, talk to friends and family and meet via zoom or regular phone calls. If you receive an invite for a chat or a walk in the fresh air; try your hardest to find the inner strength to accept that invitation. It can be challenging but ‘saying yes’, even when you feel like saying no and staying safe at home; really can help change your outlook and ease anxiety levels.

Flu Jabs in 2020/2021

2020 has been quite a year with lots of changes in the way we work and live. So, what is different this year with the flu jab?

By all accounts it does seem as though the ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 is upon us and with predictions of cases rising over the winter months, it is more important than ever to have your flu jab.

The flu jab will not protect you against COVID, but it will lower your risk of developing flu and serious complications. Flu can lead to hospital admissions and secondary complications. It can weaken your immune system making you more susceptible to a more severe case of COVID-19 infection.

In addition, preventing a rise in cases of flu can help protect the NHS during the winter months.

Who is eligible for the Flu vaccine on the NHS free of charge?

  • Adults 65 and over
  • Anyone with an underlying condition such as COPD, bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, spleen problems (like sickle cell), liver disease or a chronic neurological disease like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • Anyone who receives a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
  • Anyone who has a learning disability and are on their GP learning disability register.
  • Pregnant women
  • People living with someone who’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
  • Children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020
  • Children in primary school
  • Children in year 7 (secondary school)
  • Frontline health or social care workers

These categories will be prioritised in the first round of flu vaccines and are eligible to receive the vaccine free of charge.

Why are there different types of flu vaccines and what is the difference?

The quadrivalent vaccine (designed to protect against four different flu viruses, including two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses) contains 4 strains of the flu virus. This particular flu vaccine is offered to patients under the age of 65. This vaccine comes in a strain which has egg product in it and one which doesn’t.

The nasal flu vaccine is also a quadrivalent vaccine and is offered to children from the age of 2-17 years of age. A lot of these are offered in schools as part of a national immunisation programme.

The trivalent vaccine has 3 strains of the flu virus and is offered to the over 65s. This flu vaccine is thought to boost the immune response to fight flu.

It is not known why older adults’ immune systems don’t respond so well to the flu vaccines, therefore it is even more important for children and healthcare workers to get vaccinated to decrease the spread of the flu virus.

flu jab
https://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/inactivated-flu-vaccine

As a member of the Linbury practice, you will be offered a flu vaccine as part of your membership.

Please give us a call if you would like more information about our membership – 0333 050 7338.