Helpful healthful news from Healthwatch!


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Getting the best help from the NHS over Christmas

Self-care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses and injuries like a coughs, colds, grazes, small cuts or a sore throat. They can be treated at home with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest.

Use your pharmacist for advice and treatment for illnesses like hay fever, diarrhoea, earache, painful cough, sticky eye, teething and rashes. By visiting your pharmacy, you can save time by avoiding an unnecessary trip to your GP. Call 111 or visit if you’re feeling unwell, unsure or if you need health advice and guidance in non-life-threatening emergencies – available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Contact your GP, as they can help you if you have a non-life-threatening illness or any concerns about your health and well-being. Improved GP access in Devon means you can now make routine appointments to see a GP in the evenings and at weekends. See video and article below.

Visit a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU), Walk-In Centre (WIC) or Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC), for treatment of non-urgent conditions, like cuts, sprains, strain, bruises, itchy rashes, stings and minor burns. You will be seen by an experienced nurse, without the need for an appointment. Detail can be found here

The NHS website – – is always available for health advice and guidance.

Mental health crisis cafés, also known as The Moorings @ Devon, offer out-of-hours mental health support to anyone aged 16+ in Devon, from locations in Barnstaple, Exeter, and Torquay. Visit for contact details and opening hours.

Visiting the Emergency Department (ED) or dialing 999 are best used in an emergency for serious or life-threatening conditions like severe bleeding, breathing difficulties, severe chest pain and loss of consciousness. Visiting ED is not an alternative to a GP appointment.

New school uniform initiative

The Children’s Society reported in 2018 that one million children live in families across England who are getting into debt to meet the rising cost of school uniforms so in Torbay, Re4orm are trying to address this problem and have come up with the idea of a school uniform swap.

The organisation’s Facebook page says “Have your children grown over the last 8 weeks? Are you already thinking about new uniforms for January? Do you want to help the environment? We’re holding a School Uniform Swap, on Friday 3rd January from 10am, Nanna Cavanna’s at No 10 Lucia Street, Torquay. Come along and pick up any clothing you need for the new term, save yourself money straight after Christmas and help our environment. No costs involved and no criteria to fulfil.”

If anyone has any unwanted and freshly washed uniforms, please drop them off at The Kind Grind, or Butterfly Boutique (both on Lucia Street) by Thursday 2nd January. They will then sort it ready to be collected the next day.

Having fun is the key to success

It’s that time of year when you start thinking about those New Year resolutions, but what should they be and how will you stick with them for longer than the first few days of January?

A good way to get you thinking about this is to take the Healthy Lifestyles Assessment quiz which you can access by following the link below.

The Healthy Lifestyles website is also a great place for information, advice and support. Their team can help you to quit smoking, get more active, eat more healthily, lose weight and improve wellbeing. If you set yourself realistic goals and use the information to find fun ways of making changes, you are much more likely keep to your resolutions in 2020.

Live well for less

Scores of people in Torbay are set to benefit from a free course that teaches the tricks of living well for less.

The Torbay team has trained with charity Christians Against Poverty to offer the CAP Life Skills course. Running for eight-weeks, the course gives people the confidence and decision-making skills to live well, look after themselves and feel positive, even on a low income.

The next course starts on Wednesday 15th January 2020, 10am to 12 noon at the Cottage Café (opposite Torquay library).

To find out more or book a place call Claire Walton on 07860 847026 or email

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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!