Health Alerts & Wellbeing

Are you at risk of Prostate Cancer?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, less men are visiting their GP surgeries with signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer UK report that since March 2020, prostate cancer referrals by GPs in England dropped by more than 52,000. 

“We normally see many more patients than we have so far this year, with signs and symptoms that would warrant a referral for further investigation of suspected prostate cancer,” explains Dr Anant Sachdev, Primary Care lead for Thames Valley Cancer Alliance.

“This is not a sign that the cancer has gone away but more likely that men are not going to see their GP as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic but also because they may not have recognised the symptoms,” added Dr Sachdev.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men in the UK – around 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime.

Who is at risk of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer can affect men of any age. However, there are certain groups that are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer:

  • Men aged 50 or older
  • Men of African-Caribbean or African descent
  • Men who have a family history of prostate cancer
  • Men who are obese

There is also an increased risk for men who have a direct family history of breast cancer through their mother or sister. 

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, and often do not appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the urethra. The most common symptoms of prostate include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Needing to pee more frequently, especially during the night
  • Needing to rush to toilet
  • Difficulty in starting or stopping urination
  • Straining or taking a long time while peeing
  • Weak flow
  • Feeling your bladder has not emptied fully
  • Blood in urine or blood in semen.

Some of the above symptoms, such as needing to pee more frequently, may be thought to be a normal aspect of growing older. It is vital that people do not ignore these symptoms.

What should you do if you’re concerned that you or someone you know has prostate cancer?

If anyone you speak to is describing these symptoms, or knows someone who is experiencing them, they should contact their GP as soon as possible.

You can also call Prostate Cancer UK Specialist Nurses - 0800 074 83830 -for free and confidential information and support. 

Most people experiencing the symptoms listed above won’t have prostate cancer. However, by contacting their GP or Prostate Cancer UK Specialist Nurses, they can be provided with either peace of mind, or faster diagnosis which means quicker treatment and better outcomes for them.

Download an easy read booklet on Prostate Cancer


COVID-19 booster vaccines

Booster vaccine doses are available on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a 2nd dose of a vaccine at least six months ago.

This includes:

  • people with a learning disability
  • people aged 50 and over
  • people aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
  • adult carers
  • people aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • people who live and work in care homes
  • frontline health and social care workers.


Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine.

This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your 1st and 2nd doses.

Some people may be offered a booster dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

The NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have a booster dose. It's important not to contact the NHS for one before then.

Flu vaccination remains a priority - most people who can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine are also eligible for the annual flu vaccine.

If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time.

 Essential winter protection. There are two essential vaccines you may need this winter - flu and COVID-19 booster. Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself, friends and family from these dangerous viruses. Find out if you're eligible now at


Don't miss out on your flu jab

Don’t miss out on getting your free flu vaccination this winter as flu season looms.

NHS England has already started sending out invitations for flu vaccinations to all ‘at risk’ groups including carers, children and medically vulnerable people. For the first time, older secondary school pupils aged up to 15, including those aged 15 on 31 August 2021, are included in this year’s vaccination programme.

Following the lifting of COVID restrictions, health advisors want more people than ever vaccinated against flu this winter because they are worried about the impact of flu circulating widely alongside COVID in the UK for the first time.

Flu can affect anyone, but if you have a long-term health condition, the effects of flu can make it worse even if the condition is well managed and you normally feel well. You should have the free flu vaccine if you have:

  • a learning disability or a long-term condition such as:
  • a heart problem
  • a chest complaint or serious breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or some people with asthma
  • a kidney disease
  • lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
  • liver disease
  • had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • diabetes
  • a neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
  • a problem with your spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
  • you are pregnant.

Those who should consider having a flu vaccination

All those who have any condition listed above, or who are:

  • aged 65 years or over
  • living in a residential or nursing home
  • the main carer of an older or disabled person
  • a frontline health or social care worker
  • pregnant, 
  • children of a certain age

Those aged 50 to 64 years old will also be offered flu vaccination this year.

Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it’s sometimes called seasonal flu. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly.

Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days but, for some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.

The causes of flu

Flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the windpipe and lungs. And because it’s caused by viruses and not bacteria, antibiotics won’t treat it. However, if there are complications from getting flu, antibiotics may be needed.

How you catch flu

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.

You can prevent the spread of the virus by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you should wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.

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

How we protect against flu

Flu is unpredictable. The vaccine provides the best protection available against a virus that can cause severe illness. The most likely viruses that will cause flu are identified in advance of the flu season and vaccines are then made to match them as closely as possible.

The vaccines are given in the autumn ideally before flu starts circulating.

Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu virus circulating.

The harm flu can do

People sometimes think a bad cold is flu, but having flu can often be much worse than a cold and you may need to stay in bed for a few days. Some people are more susceptible to the effects of flu. For them, it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in hospital, or even death.


Check NHS.UK to find out if you are eligible.



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



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

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