Health Alerts & Wellbeing

Adults with Down's Syndrome: Have you had your letter from your GP?

It’s now more than a month since adults with Down’s syndrome were added to the list of people who are classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV).

GPs have been instructed by the NHS to ensure the records of all their adult patients who have Down’s syndrome have been coded as being on the CEV list. 

GPs were also provided with a letter that explained the change, along with an easy-read version to send to their patients.

Sadly, we are aware that some of our clients who have Down’s syndrome have not received letters from their GPs. 

This means they will not be prioritised for vaccination and cannot register for priority shopping slots and delivery of medication.

If the person you care for has not received their letter, please contact your surgery to make sure the records are correct. 

This is particularly important as if you are not on the CEV list you will not be able to access the Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

You can download a template letter designed by the Downs Syndrome Association, which may be useful.

If you need support in contacting your GP, one of our Family Advisers will help. Please call us on 0118 966 2518. 

Adults with Down’s syndrome are on the vaccine prioritisation list at the same level as those aged 70+.

The vaccination priority list:

1. Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
2. All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
3. All those 75 years of age and over
4. All those 70 years of age and over and 
clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
5. All those 65 years of age and over
6. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
7. All those 60 years of age and over
8. A those 55 years of age and over
9. All those 50 years of age and over.


Abdominal Cancers: 'Help us, Help You'  

NHS England and NHS Improvement, together with Public Health England, have launched the ‘Abdominal Cancers’ phase of the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign, to highlight that persistent tummy troubles could be signs of cancer. The campaign encourages people who have been suffering from diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area for three weeks or more to speak to their GP.

Persistent tummy troubles can be signs of a number of cancers, including bowel, ovarian or pancreatic  cancer. Around 84,000 people are diagnosed with abdominal cancers in England each year but people who are suffering with symptoms may be reluctant to visit their GP; they may be embarrassed about their symptoms, or concerned that they might be wasting their doctor’s time, or they may just put their tummy troubles down to getting older.

In addition, people may be concerned that they will be a burden to the NHS who are also dealing with COVID-19. The campaign reminds people that the NHS has adapted its services and can still see patients safely.

While it’s probably nothing serious, any of these symptoms could be a sign of something that needs treatment. If it is cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable and can save lives.

Visit for more information.



Managing your health at home 

To maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, you are advised to stay at home as much as possible. While you are at home it's still easy to get NHS help and support using your smartphone, tablet or computer.

The Health at Home webpage has information letting you know how to: 

  • contact your GP
  • order repeat prescriptions
  • manage long-term conditions
  • maintain your mental and physical wellbeing

Do you need help with a current health concern? You can get help from a healthcare professional online at home.

Coronavirus How to stay safe. Wash hands regularly. Use a tissue for coughs and bin it. Don't touch your face or eyes with your hands.

 Coronavirus advice for people with long-term conditions


Taking the fear out of breast screening

Do the test for it – go for it is the message behind a new short video, which aims to take the fear out of breast screening for women with learning disabilities. Cover of Easy Read Breast Screening Leaflet

Made by, and for, women with learning disabilities the film encourages women not to be scared of screening and to have the test if they want to.

It features a variety of women with learning disability including someone who had never had a mammogram, someone who has to come back for a recall and someone who has had breast cancer diagnosed by screening.

The project to make the film was led by Ingrid Fuchs, a lead clinical nurse specialist at Avon Breast Screening together with biggerhouse film on behalf of Public Health England (PHE).

PHE has also developed easy read guidance accompanied by images explaining what happens when a woman comes for a mammogram.

Do the test - go for it! A film by women with learning disabilities for women with learning disabilities.


Not sure what to do? Call NHS 111

Stay warm, stay well this winter

It’s getting chilly and very cold weather can have a serious impact on the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities or long-term health conditions, older people and families with young children.

The following basic advice can help you stay safe, warm and well. Weather thermometer

STAY WARM: Keep the temperature in main rooms at between 18 - 21°C; shut curtains and doors shut to keep the warmth in; dress in lots of thin layers, eat regular hot meals, have plenty of hot drinks and try to keep moving.

STAY WELL: Keep medicine cabinets stocked with over the counter medicines (like ibuprofen and paracetamol) to help relieve the symptoms of minor ailments; Vulnerable adults, carers, pregnant women and very young children are entitled to a free flu jab. At the first sign of a winter illness seek advice from a local pharmacist or NHS 111.

STAY IN: Especially if it’s very cold/icy. If it’s necessary to go out - wrap up well, wear a hat, wear a scarf over the mouth to protect lungs from cold air, wear shoes with good grip soles to reduce the risk of slips and falls.

STAY UP-TO-DATE: Listen to the news and weather forecasts on TV or local radio.

If you, or someone you know, are having trouble keeping warm, Reading Borough Council’s Winter Watch scheme can help with energy efficiency improvements, emergency heating and financial support.- Call  0118 937 3747.

If someone is ill and needs help call NHS 111 for advice.

If a vulnerable adult or an older person is having trouble looking after themselves, call Adult Social Care on 0118 937 3747.


The flu jab saves lives – please make sure you have one

People with learning disabilities and those who care for them are entitled to a free flu vaccination. Don't forget your flu shot

Paid carers who are employed by a registered care provider are also eligible for a free flu vaccination.

Flu occurs every year and is an unpredictable virus. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. Colds are much less serious. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.

It can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups. People with learning disabilities are more likely to become seriously ill if they get the flu.

The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.

By having the vaccination, paid and unpaid carers will reduce their chances of getting flu and spreading it to people who they care for.

You need to have a flu jab each year.

To get your free flu jab, speak to your GP or practice nurse, or alternatively your local pharmacist, to book a vaccination appointment and get the best possible protection.

Find out more about the flu injection in this easy read guide.

All about flu and how to stop getting it - easy read leaflet. 

Get your free flu jab


Helpful tool for assessing the eyesight of people with a learning disability

Many people with learning disabilities may not be able to tell others if they have concerns about their vision. Pair of spectacles

Seeability has developed a useful resource to help carers and anyone who supports someone with a learning disability observe how effectively they're able to see.

The Functional Vision Assessment (FVA) is easy to use and is suitable for use by carers, supporters and learning disability professionals. 

The FVA helps you gather useful information about how much the person is able to see and how they use their sight - which can then be shared at eye tests and hospital eye clinic appointments.

Download a pdf of the Functional Vision Assessment.


It's time to talk about poo

It’s estimated that half of people with a learning disability experience long-term constipation.

Causes include poor diet, dehydration, stress, lack of exercise, some medications, lack of monitoring bowel health and some physical conditions.

Many of these are commonly experienced by people with learning disabilities and, if left uncured, can cause discomfort, pain and sometimes death.

Constipation can be dangerous if not managed effectively but everyone is comfortable talking about their bowel movements.

Watch Poo & You - an animated guide to constipation by Dimensions.


Cervical Screening Saves Lives


Smear tests aren’t easy for everybody, but there are ways to make them better. They prevent 75% of cervical cancers, so while they may not be pleasant, they are important. 

Download an easy-read guide from the Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, which explains what happens during a smear test. 


Take your doctor's advice on antibiotics

How to spot sepsis

Sepsis (also known as blood poisoning) is the immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury. Normally our immune system fights infection – but sometimes, for reasons we don’t yet understand, it attacks our body’s own organs and tissues.

If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in organ failure and death. Yet with early diagnosis, it can be treated with antibiotics.

Sepsis can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection. There is no one sign, and symptoms present differently between adults and children.

How to spot sepsis in adults

Seek medical help urgently if you (or another adult) develop any of these signs:

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain 
  • Passing no urine (in a day)
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you’re going to die
  • Skin mottled or discoloured.

How to spot sepsis in children

If your child is unwell with either a fever or very low temperature (or has had a fever in the last 24 hours), call 999 and just ask: could it be sepsis?

A child may have sepsis if he or she:

  1. Is breathing very fast
  2. Has a ‘fit’ or convulsion
  3. Looks mottled, bluish, or pale
  4. Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  5. Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  6. Feels abnormally cold to touch.

A child under 5 may have sepsis if he or she:

  1. Is not feeding
  2. Is vomiting repeatedly
  3. Has not passed urine for 12 hours.

For further information, please visit the Sepsis Trust and the NHS Website



Be clear on cancer - Easy Read Leaflet

If you notice blood in your pee, even if it's 'just the once', tell your doctor.  It might not be  Be Clear on Canceranything serious, but there is a chance that it could be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer. 

Finding cancer early makes it more treatable. 

You can download an easy read leaflet, which tells you about bladder or kidney cancer.

You can also find further information at

Blood in your pee? Your doctor will want to know



Queen Victoria Chiropody Clinic

Feet are critical to everyday life and problems with them can cause misery and mobility difficulties. You might not be able to reach your feet to cut your toe nails or may have a more complicated foot issue that needs treating by a professional.

The Queen Victoria Chiropody Clinic is a charity which provides foot care services to anyone living in Reading or Earley, who is aged over 60 or unable to manage their foot care because of a disability or medical condition.

Treatments include: Aching feet

  • Corn and callous treatment
  • General and diabetic foot care
  • Nail trimming/hard skin removal 
  • Ingrown nail treatments
  • Treatment for fungal infections of the nail and skin
  • General foot health advice.


Charges made for treatments represent about half the true cost with the balance provided by the charity.

The clinic is based at 17 St John’s Road, Reading RG1 4EB.

Call 0118 959 0306


Act FAST at the signs of a stroke. Easy Read leaflet

Do you know the signs of stroke? You only need to see ONE sign – Face, Arms or Speech, to act fast and call 999.

Stroke is a medical emergency and the FAST test helps you identify stroke symptoms:

Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there? 

Speech – is their speech slurred?

Time to call 999 if you see any one of these signs.

Other stroke symptoms people should be aware of include:

  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion
  • Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms

Take any of the above symptoms seriously and call 999 with delay if you notice any one in yourself or others, even if you are unsure.

Make the call. Dial 999 even if you are not sure it is a stroke.

Download an Easy Read version of Act F.A.S.T.