Issue 33 - 3 December 2021

Health and care news from across north east London

Welcome to our public bulletin keeping local people informed about health and care services; and how you can stay well and keep safe.

Boost your immunity this winter

Boost your immunity this winterFlu and Covid-19 can be life-threatening and spread more easily in winter when we are crowded together inside.

Most adults and children can get a free flu vaccine, Covid-19 booster or both.

The best way to protect ourselves from these viruses is to get vaccinated. Don’t delay – book your winter vaccinations online today, or speak to your GP or pharmacists.

Covid-19 booster expansion plans and current eligibility

In response to concerns about the Omicron variant, the government has announced that it is planning to make booster jabs available to all adults (18 and over), reduce the time between second and booster jabs for all, make second doses available to 12-15 year olds and provide additional doses for those who are immunosuppressed. We will be making this available in line with government guidance, with the most vulnerable being prioritised first, over the coming weeks. 

Currently everyone aged 40 and over can get a booster as long as they had their second jab more than six months ago and this is still the case. People can book a booster vaccine appointment after five months to have it as soon as they become eligible. 

16 and 17 year olds can now have second doses 12 weeks after their first dose. 

Anyone aged 16 and over can easily find their nearest high street, walk-in vaccination centre through the ‘Grab a Jab’ NHS online walk-in finder or can book an appointment at a local centre through the national booking service for first and second doses. 

Everyone aged 12 and over can also now book a first vaccine using the national booking system, calling 119, or where possible, book directly with, or walk into, a local vaccination centre - Full details of where and how you can do this are here. 

People who are severely immunosuppressed can currently book their third jab online on the NHS national booking system, or if they have a letter from their GP or hospital, visit a walk in centre. 

You can watch back and share a Covid vaccine Q&A session where local medical experts, including a GP and a midwife, answer questions about the vaccine.


Face coverings, testing, staying safe and stopping the spread

It is still possible to catch and spread Covid-19, even if you are fully vaccinated.

The risk of catching or passing on Covid-19 can be higher in certain places and when doing certain activities. Covid-19 is spread by airborne transmission, close contact via droplets, and via surfaces. Airborne transmission is a very significant way that the virus circulates. It is possible to be infected by someone you don’t have close contact with, especially if you’re in a crowded and/or poorly ventilated space.

Rules on face coverings have changed. You now have to wear a face covering at all times in certain public spaces like on public transport and in shops.

There are some key things you can do to reduce your chances of getting or spreading it:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors. Meeting outdoors is safer
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Get tested. Take a free PCR test if you have symptoms and a free rapid test if you don’t, especially if you planning to go out and be around people
  • Wash your hands regularly and cover coughs and sneezes
  • Try and stay home if you are unwell

You can find all this guidance in more detail here, including in other languages.

Areeb’s story

Read here for the story of Areeb Khan, 16, from Chadwell Heath in east London, who has been in hospital since 10 August when her Covid-19 symptoms led her to collapse at home. Areeb is urging others to have the vaccine which could have prevented her almost dying from the virus.

She was hospitalised just days before she became eligible for the vaccination. She said: “I wish I could have had the vaccine. I think my story should absolutely encourage others to have it.” Please share this story to help other young people and parents understand the importance of vaccination.


Public views sought on proposed health and wellbeing hub in Havering

Have your say on proposals for a new integrated health and wellbeing hub in Havering. Health and care partners across north east London have been working together for a number of years to design the hub, which proposes to bring together a range of health, social care and community services under one roof, in a brand-new fit-for-purpose facility.

To find out more and share your views, you can read the engagement document which explains the proposals in more detail, and take part in an online questionnaire at There will also be a number of online listening events, with the first scheduled for Saturday 27 November.

Abuse of NHS staff is never OK

Violence and aggression towards staff in our GP surgeries and hospitals is on the rise. A recent survey showed that 15% of Barts Health employees were victims of physical violence in the previous 12 months and 30% said they were at the receiving end of harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, their relatives, or members of the public.

The impact of the pandemic has increased demand but also meant the NHS has had to see people in different ways. This has led, in some cases, to the physical and verbal abuse of our staff. Abuse of our staff is never acceptable. We are clear that violence, or the causing of nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises may result in prosecution or people being refused access to care.  

Barts Health has made a short film called Hidden that explores violence and aggression based on real experiences.

World AIDS Day 2021

World AIDS Day took place this week. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. There is more information here about the day, our work in north east London as well as how to show your support all year round.

Free 24/7 urgent mental health support for young people

The last 18 months have been particularly hard for young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Young people and their families in need of urgent help with their mental health can get free 24/7 support from trained NHS professionals by telephone. 

The NHS has set up free telephone lines across London for young people in distress, open all day, every day, and staffed by trained mental health professionals. They can provide immediate support, or refer people to other sources of help if needed. Find your local crisis line number here.

Updated: 03/12/2021