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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 11 June 2007

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Biggest Ever Health Survey in the North West

THE North West Public Health Observatory and the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, will today launch the biggest ever health survey of residents of the North West on behalf of the NHS North West.  Most illnesses and deaths are now linked to how people live their lives, so this survey will explore areas such as smoking, alcohol intake, eating habits and physical activity to try to uncover more about the health of people across the region. The health survey will run from June to September 2007 and will cover all parts of the North West. Researchers will begin by telephoning over 5,000 households representing individuals from all walks of life - young and old, men and women, families and single people, those living in cities and towns or in villages and remote rural areas - so that all health issues can be explored.  Professor Mark A Bellis, Director of the North West Public Health Observatory and the Centre for Public Health, said:- “Thousands of people in the North West are now eating, drinking and smoking themselves into long term ill health. The more we understand about which communities are worst affected, the better health services can provide them with precisely the right advice and support they need to live longer, healthier and happier lives.  Increasingly we recognise that one size does not fit all when it comes to the help people need to adopt healthier lifestyles. We hope this survey provides some of the key information needed on how to help make healthy choices more convenient and attractive to North West residents.”

Dr Karen Tocque, Director of Science and Strategy at the North West Public Health Observatory, added:- “As with many health issues, the North West suffers a great deal more than other areas but patterns are changing. We want people in the region to tell us about their changing behaviours to find out what people are really doing about healthy behaviour”

Dr Ruth Hussey, Regional Director of Public Health in the North West, said:- “We hope that by highlighting how and why individuals in the region continue to experience poorer health compared with other parts of the country that it will prompt people to take action to improve health for everyone in the North West”

This regional survey will be followed by a series of local surveys in different areas where researchers will also be encouraging people to participate. These surveys will focus on how localities differ across the region and on how local services can be tailored for people in those areas.

Local school children help the Trust support World Environment Day

SOUTHPORT and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust celebrated World Environment Day on Tuesday 5 June 2007 to raise the awareness of environmental issues and to promote what the organisation is doing to contribute to the environment. The theme of this year's event was:- "Melting Ice... A Hot Topic?"  The Trust's waste recycling contractor, Shanks, sent their customer Liaison officer to join in with the celebrations, and local school children from the ages of 4 to 11 from Southport's Bishop David Shepherd Church of England School, and Skelmersdale's Kingsbury School submitted some beautiful paintings on the theme of the environment. All the children were awarded certificates and prizes for their efforts. Some of these paintings will be mounted and displayed around the hospital. As part of the celebrations the Trust put on an environmental quiz for staff and visitors with prizes kindly donated from local suppliers. The trusts restaurant also played a part in celebrating the day and served local food for "the menu of the day", supported by local farmers and suppliers.

Denise Alty of the Trust's Facilities Department said:- "I would like to thank everyone who was involved in this very enjoyable day, in particular the school children who had all drawn such wonderful, colourful pictures. The environment is very much in the news these days, and it was a good opportunity to show what we as a Trust are doing to help and also to get the messages across to the children."

Eve of 60th Birthday

A £29bn investment in hospitals, health centres and equipment has played a major role in driving forward improvements in patient care, a comprehensive assessment of the NHS estate shows.  As the NHS approaches its 60th anniversary in 2008, the report shows that the bricks and mortar of the NHS are far younger than they were 10 years ago. In 1997, 50% of the NHS estate was older than the NHS itself. Today, that figure is only 20%.

Without this cash injection for the NHS infrastructure over the last 10 years, Rebuilding the NHS makes is clear that staff would have lacked the state of the art facilities and equipment required to slash waiting times, and reduce deaths from cancer and heart disease.

The report shows that:-

£4.9bn has been invested in building 88 major hospital schemes since 1997. Another 24 hospital schemes, worth £4.6bn, are under construction and 111 will be open by the end of 2010

2,848 GP premises have been refurbished or replaced and 674 One Stop Primary Care Centres have opened. NHS patients are now experiencing shorter waits to see a family doctor.

More than 1,300 items of the most modern equipment to diagnose and treat cancer have been delivered since April 2000. Now, 99% of patients with suspected cancer are now seen by a specialist within 2 weeks of GP referral - a figure that stood at 63% in 1997

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said:- "10 years ago the NHS was in dire need of a facelift.

The public told the government then that they wanted to see dramatic improvements in the quality of hospitals, GP surgeries and equipment - and we listened.

It's thanks to this massive investment that we have been able to lift the NHS out of the Victorian era and into the 21st Century.

But this report is about much more than bricks and mortar. The huge increase in new NHS buildings and state-of-the art equipment means that patients are being treated faster than ever before.

This is helping NHS staff to reach the 18 week waiting target by the end of 2008, a fantastic goal to celebrate in the NHS's 60th anniversary year.  Patients now have more choice and are increasingly able to access the NHS where they want, when they want it.

Around 90 new NHS walk-in centres have opened since 1997, and a mobile MRI service means that patients can be treated quickly and conveniently close to their homes."

The report makes clear that capital investment in the NHS will continue, with £7bn worth of major hospital projects in the pipeline.  

From 2007-08, PCTs will also have greater flexibility in how they spend capital funds. The amount allocated unconditionally to PCTs, and predominately spent on maintaining buildings and equipment, will increase by almost 30% to £168m.

Other key facts from the report include:-

Capital investment in equipment rocketed from £295m in 1996/97 to £733m in 2006

Since April 2000, new and replacement equipment includes:-

156 MRI scanners, 231 CT scanners and more than 730 items of breast screening equipment

On average, one NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) facility opened every week in 2006 and this is continuing throughout 2007.

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