We are accustomed to patients presenting to the doctor with symptoms and in return receiving a diagnosis and treatment – an illness related approach. A more useful way includes the doctor offering to try to keep patients well – a health related approach. This is called preventative care. We feel that preventative care is very important. The old saying “catch it early” has never been more important because today we can recognise early signs of disease and take appropriate action, but more importantly we can even prevent the occurrence of some of them.
We have tackled the problem here by sharing the work amongst the Primary Health Care Team. This consists of the doctors, the health visitor, the practice nurse, the district nurses, the district midwife, the community psychiatric nurse and the social worker
A. Coronary Prevention Policies
Dealt with at well person clinics. This area has a very high rate of heart disease causing unnecessary premature deaths and suffering which are largely preventable, as follows:
- Smoking – 45% of people in Sunderland smoke, as against 33% nationally. Little wonder then, that heart disease is a third higher than nationally. Please attend the clinic at least to get information if not for help to stop smoking. You will be amazed at what harm it can do.
- Cholesterol – We have already found that blood levels are unacceptably high in a very large proportion of our patients. Cholesterol will be monitored for those patients who have a higher risk profile.
- Blood Pressure – High blood pressure gives no symptoms and produces no warning signs. It can be detected only if someone takes your pressure. The tragedy of high blood pressure is that the patient may suffer a stroke or heart attack 10 -15 years before they might have expected to do so. We recommend a blood pressure check annually. Blood pressure will be monitored at appropriate clinic visits.
- Weight – Being overweight is associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes: all of which contribute to heart disease. Guidance and encouragement will be offered at clinic visits.
Dealt with by the Nurse. This disease leads to premature death, blindness, kidney disease, heart disease and gangrene of the lower limbs. Ensure that you have your urine checked during your health promotion examination. If you are diabetic, please ensure that you get checked at least once a year.
C. Alcohol and Drugs
Dealt with by the Doctors. This area has a high incidence of alcohol and drug abuse, with all its associated ill health and misery. Help is possible, please speak to the doctor, the address of the Community Addiction Team is – 11 Norfolk Street, Sunderland.
D. Travel Immunisation
Dealt with by the Practice Nurse. Please enquire about your requirements in good time before you set off.
E. Childhood Diseases
Whooping cough, Measles and Mumps are now very infrequent and Diphtheria and Tetanus virtually unheard of. All these will return if parents fail to have their children vaccinated. We, the Doctors, prefer to have all the children on our list vaccinated, the practice nurse holds clinics. We feel this gives us a closer relationship with the children and their parents.
Appointments are sent out automatically, please attend. If you know that your child has missed any of their vaccinations please enquire at reception about getting them vaccinated. Please ensure your child completes the course as follows:
- Vaccinations at 2, 3 and 4 months of age, a second course between 12 and 18 months of age, and the third between 4 and 5 years of age.
- Older Children – BCG vaccination between 10 and 14 years of age. Tetanus and Polio boosters between 15 and 18 years of age.
- Adults – Tetanus booster every 10 years.
F. Cancer Prevention
Cancers of organs that are easily accessible for examination, can be easily caught at a very early stage with improved prospects of cure.
Cervical Cytology (Smears) – Dealt with by the Practice Nurse. Please book your appointment through our receptionists as soon as possible after receiving your recall letter or straight away:
- If you are between 25 and 65 years and have never had a smear before.
- You think it is more than 5 years since your last smear.
The smear only takes 10 minutes to do, is not usually painful and is recommended every 5 years (unless advised otherwise). 10 minutes now can save a lot of painful ill health and unpleasant hospital treatment later.
Breast Examination – Dealt with in the Well Person Clinic – A simple monthly self- examination is all you need to catch the “early lump”. Many lumps are not cancer, but may still need investigation, please attend the Well Person Clinic where the correct technique will be demonstrated.
Testicle Examination – Dealt with at the Well Person Clinic. Please make an appointment at the Well Person Clinic to discuss and collect a leaflet about this.
Prostate Gland – Many men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their life, assessment will be offered at the Well Person Clinic and does not always involve an internal examination. Relevant blood samples will be taken after a judgement on the history.
G. Menopausal Conditions
Dealt with in the Well Person Clinic (or by the doctors).
Please seek advice if :
- Your periods have stopped before the age of 45 years for whatever reason (naturally or through operation).
- Or a near relative has had a fracture of the wrist, hip or spine or suffers from “osteoporosis” (thinning of the bones) or you suffer from flushing and hot sweats.
Dealt with in the Well Person Clinic. Please come and see us for advice on smoking, alcohol, drugs, preconceptual advice regarding planning safer and healthier pregnancies, but most of all for contraceptive advice.
I. Anxiety & Depression
We can also offer appointments at the surgery with trained Counsellors and Community Psychiatric Nurse who are available to help in times of stress and anxiety. Some problems are best resolved by discussion with a sympathetic listener. A trained person such as the Counsellor or Community Psychiatric Nurse (they are not Psychiatrists) can often help with your anxieties and their clinics are arranged to give people time to discuss things in the familiar surroundings in the surgery.