Torbay and South Devon Health News Updates

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Do you look after a family member or friend with a disability or a health condition who cannot manage alone? If so, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s Carers’ Service is inviting you to join one of their events to celebrate Carers Rights Day.

Carers Rights Day, to be held on Thursday 21 November, is a national campaign to help unpaid carers understand their rights; learn about what support is available to them and also how to access that support.

Around 4,350 carers are registered on Torbay’s carers register, yet it is estimated that there are around 17,000 unpaid carers throughout Torbay. To celebrate the day, unpaid carers of all ages from Torbay are being invited to a range of free events.

The events on offer include: a mindfulness taster session and a day of talks and exhibition stands, including information and advice about carers rights, benefit entitlements, assessments, support, discounts and much more. Most events include free refreshments:

  • Wednesday 20 November (5.45pm-7pm) Mindfulness taster session provided by Talkworks, Brixham Friend’s Centre. Spaces are limited so booking is essential. For more information please contact Pauline on: (01803) 208455 or email
  • Thursday 21 November (10am-5.45pm) ‘Caring for your future’, a day of talks, with information stands at Paignton Library. Cake and other refreshments provided. A series of 13 talks with question/answer sessions on a range of relevant topics. For the full list of talks and to book a space to attend one (or all!) of the talks, please visit: or phone: (01803) 208455. Official opening at 10.30am
  • Thursday 21 November (9am-5pm) at Torbay Hospital – Exhibition stand and advice with free coffee and cake for carers at Aroma Café in the level 4 main reception of Torbay Hospital.
  • Saturday 23 November (10am-12noon) ‘Mince Pies and More’, Paignton Carers Centre, Paignton Library. Drop in session offering free hand massages and manicures, raffle and tombola as well as advice and information.

For more information about Carers Services, contact Signposts for Carers on 01803 666620 or email

Simple idea, big impact

A scheme making life easier for patients transferring to hospital has been launched.

The scheme being rolled out by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust will help make the process of admitting care home residents to hospital smoother and more comfortable.

The ‘red bag’ scheme comprises pre-packed bags which include medical notes, care plans, medication and personal items to be handed to ambulance crews by carers which travel with patients to hospital where they are handed to doctors and healthcare professionals. Personal items are important to make hospital stays as comfortable as possible and can include the following: clothes for leaving hospital, slippers, toiletries, dentures, hearing aid, glasses and books to read. The bags ensure items are not forgotten in an emergency or left behind on discharge home from hospital.

The use of these red bags have been shown to help get older vulnerable patients home quicker from hospital and, in some cases, reduce the need for admission to hospital from emergency departments.

GP practices offering life-saving flu vaccination

People are being urged to have a potentially life-saving, free flu vaccination at their doctor’s surgery by a GP in Torbay.

Flu is highly contagious and can strike anyone. Flu is caused by a virus, not bacteria, so antibiotics won’t treat it. People are encouraged to get protected and have the vaccination, which is available in local GP practices.

Some groups – including pregnant women, young children aged two to four, carers, those with long-term health conditions like heart disease or breathing problems, and people aged over 65 – are more susceptible to flu and its effects, so it is particularly important that they are vaccinated – free of charge.

Dr Chris Hunt, a GP partner at Pembroke House Surgery, in Paignton, said: “The vaccination is our first line of defence against flu, which is unpleasant at best and a potential killer at worst. Flu can exacerbate existing medical conditions, lead to serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and be deadly for older and more vulnerable people. I recommend that people have the vaccine at their local GP practice before the virus starts to circulate in the community as it gets colder and winter approaches.”

Reducing hospital stays

Heart failure patients in Torbay and South Devon are avoiding long stays in hospital thanks to a successful pilot scheme that’s seen NHS integrated teams joining forces and using a drug in an innovative way.

As part of the pilot, a small group of patients with heart failure have been treated as day case outpatients and, as a result, are enjoying spending more time at home recovering instead of prolonged periods in hospital. The successful pilot scheme, which is being run by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, is also freeing up beds at Torbay Hospital.

The Trust is one of the most advanced in the country in meeting patients’ wishes to spend as much time as possible outside of a hospital setting by adopting new ways of working.


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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!