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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  8 May 2006

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Forums welcome rethink on hospital mobile policies

PATIENT and Public Involvement (PPI) Forums across the country this week welcome the news that senior health officials and MPs support their campaign to lift blanket bans on mobile phone usage in hospitals.

The Forums, who represent patients and the public feel strongly that both patients and the public should be offered the choice of on-site facilities or controlled mobile phone use and are pleased that senior health officials are finally in agreement.

For a number of years, both private and NHS establishments have prohibited the use of mobile phones in hospitals, alleging patients lives could be put at risk due to electro-magnetic interference. Despite extensive investigation of these claims, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulations Agency (MHRA) announced in June 2005 that there is no evidence to suggest mobile telephones present a hazard when in general use within hospitals.

It has been recognised by Forums that NHS Trusts continuing to state that mobile phones are putting lives at risk are using a flawed argument. It is now clear that a blanket ban on mobile phone usage is not justified by the evidence.

Forums would like to see reasonable guidelines for the use of mobile phones in hospital, which would minimise disturbance to other patients and staff and maximise patient choice.

As a result of the work by Forums, a number of NHS Trust hospitals are changing their policies on mobile phone usage.

Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has invited members of the PPI Forum to participate in the production of a policy allowing the patient choice between on-site telephone services and their mobile phones and Blackpool, Flyde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Trust have now stated that mobile phones can be used in public areas, away from medical equipment.

Yvonne Fountain, Chair of Countess of Chester NHS Trust PPI Forum comment:- “A number of NHS Trusts are allowing staff to use mobile phones on site, therefore acknowledging there are no risks to patients. The Countess of Chester NHS Trust and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust has also adopted new policies, based on Forum feedback. We want to see all NHS Trusts adopting a sensible approach to the use of mobile phones in hospitals, which alleviates the burden of cost from the patient and their families. The Ofcom report commented that in some cases there was evidence that an unnamed provider had been exerting pressure on the Trusts to maintain a total ban on the use of mobile phones. We as patients and the public would like to put pressure on NHS Trusts into giving us a real choice”.

PPI Forums have surveyed 1,255 people about the costs of incoming calls to hospitals and whether their local hospital allows mobile telephone usage in a campaign entitled ‘Fair Talk’. The results of this survey are due to be published on Monday 15 May.

8-14 MAY 2006

ACTION for M.E., the UK's leading charity for people with M.E., is highlighting local people's experiences of the illness, as well as announcing the results of a national survey into the condition, during M.E. Awareness Week, 8 May to 14 May 2006.

It is estimated that around 240,000 people across the UK are affected by M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
(CFS).  Through 2 different projects;

A survey quantifying the symptoms and socio-economic impact of the illness, and a collection of over 700 people's experiences.

Action for M.E. has built up both a national overview and a local database of personal insights into the condition.  The questionnaire was completed by 2,200 adults, in what is the UK's most up-to-date, detailed analysis on the severity and impact of the illness.

The results will be announced to on 9 May. The findings will reveal the economic and social impact of the illness, as well as the severity of symptoms which can range from overwhelming exhaustion, physical pain and 'brain fog' to sleep and gastric problems.

A separate nationwide Ipsos MORI poll, commissioned by the charity, will show that many members of the general public have never even heard of M.E.

New look for Liverpool libraries

WORK starts next week on refurbishing 2 Liverpool community libraries.  Woolton and Wavertree Libraries will shut from Monday May 8 for several weeks while redecoration takes place.

Extra public computers are being installed at Wavertree with free internet and email access, and an area is also being set aside for story time sessions with children, in partnership with Sure Start.  The number of books of interest to the Asian community will also be increased in time for the reopening on May 22. Wavertree issues 60,000 books annually and receives 92,000 visits.

Woolton Library, which opened in 1926 and is a former Methodist Chapel, is being redecorated inside and out and will reopen on May 30. It issues more than 50,000 books per year and the number of people using it is increasing.

Council leader Warren Bradley said:- "Our libraries are focal points for the community right across the city which are used by many thousands of people for learning.  The refurbishments will ensure they continue to be welcoming places where both young and old can borrow books and use the latest computer technology for free."

The improvements will mean that 10 of Liverpool's community libraries have been refurbished in the last 5 years.   

During the closure period, customers can use any other library. The nearest to Woolton is Garston Library on Bowden Road or Hunts Cross Library on Kingsthorne Road. People who use Wavertree can travel to Childwall Library on Childwall Five Ways.  Fines on overdue books will be waived during the closure period.

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