Tag Archives: Public Health England

UK Flu Levels Continue To Increase According To PHE Statistics

Seasonal flu levels have continued to increase in the last week across the UK according to figures published by Public Health England today

UK Flu Levels

UK Flu Levels

The latest Public health England (PHE) statistics published at 14.00 today show that seasonal flu levels have continued to increase in the last week across the UK.

The statistics show over the last week there has been a 78% increase in the GP consultation rate with flu like illness, a 50% increase in the flu hospitalisation rate, and a 65% increase in the flu intensive care admission rate. The main strains circulating continue to be flu A(H3N2), A(H1N1) and Flu B.

PHE and the Department for Health this morning launched the ‘Catch It, Bin It, Kill It’ campaign. The campaign includes radio, press and digital advertising to inform the public about the steps they can take to protect themselves and reduce spread of the virus by practising good respiratory hand hygiene. Dr Paul Cosford, Medical Director of PHE, Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England and the Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies have also written to all frontline healthcare workers to encourage them to take up the offer of the vaccine if they haven’t already.

The flu virus can live for many hours on hard surfaces and therefore practising good hand hygiene can limit the spread of germs and transmission of flu. People are advised to catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, bin it, and then wash their hands afterwards to kill the germs. Practising good hand hygiene and giving eligible people the flu vaccine is the best defence against the virus.

Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director, Public Health England said:

Our data shows that more people are visiting GPs with flu symptoms and we are seeing more people admitted to hospital with flu.

We are currently seeing a mix of flu types, including the A(H3N2) strain that circulated last winter in the UK and then in Australia. The A(H3N2) strain particularly affects older, more vulnerable age groups.

We encourage anyone who is eligible to take up their offer of the flu vaccine – it is not too late. People suffering with flu-like symptoms should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately, wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently clean regularly used surfaces to stop the spread of flu. Avoid having unnecessary contact with other people if you or they have symptoms of flu.

Seasonal flu usually circulates for several weeks each year. The intensity of circulation depends upon the underlying population immunity, the circulating viruses and external factors such as the weather. It is an unpredictable virus and it is not possible to anticipate how flu levels will progress.

Amongst other diseases like norovirus that normally increase during winter, seasonal flu puts extra pressure on the NHS every year.

The latest data is available online. Currently, 71.3% of adults over 65, 46.9% of adults with a long-term health condition, 45.5% of pregnant women, 40.8% of 3-year-olds and 42% of 2-year-olds have received the vaccine.

Top Construction Firms Appointed To Build New PHE Site In Harlow

Kier Group, Wates Construction and VolkerFitzpatrick have been selected to create the new £400 million public health science campus in Essex

PHE Science Campus

PHE Science Campus

Three of the UK’s leading construction companies have been chosen to create Public Health England’s (PHE) new state-of-the-art public health science campus and headquarters at Harlow, Essex.

They have been selected for the 4 key elements of the £400 million capital spend programme to create the campus. This includes building and refurbishing new and existing laboratories and office areas; construction of a new arrivals area and logistics centre; and site-wide infrastructure including car parking.

The appointments, creating thousands of construction-related jobs, sees the end of an 18-month procurement process, with work expected to start next month.

The successful companies bid for 4 lots:

  • lot 1 – new build of specialist bioscience laboratory building – Kier Group
  • lot 2 – refurbishment of main building, including laboratories and offices – Wates Construction
  • lot 3 – arrivals, administration and logistics buildings – Wates Construction
  • lot 4 – site-wide infrastructure, external works and energy centre – VolkerFitzpatrick (Royal VolkerWessels)

The appointment of all 3 contractors provides a boost to local employment – particularly in the case of VolkerFitzpatrick, whose head office is located in the neighbouring town of Hoddesdon.

The next steps will see the contractors working with the existing design teams and preparing the site for major construction. This is planned to start in 2019, with phased occupation starting in 2021.

PHE Harlow, as the campus will be known, is expected to employ up to 2,750 people by 2024, with scope for further expansion.

Facilities from Porton in Wiltshire and Colindale in north London, as well as PHE’s central London headquarters, will be relocated to the single centre of excellence for public health research, health improvement and protection.

The campus is critical to the future of PHE, ensuring we will be able to use the latest scientific advances to deliver our world-leading science and evidence for issues such as smoking, alcohol, diabetes, dementia, infectious diseases, environmental hazards and climate change nationally and internationally.

Richard Gleave, PHE Deputy Chief Executive, said:

PHE is delighted to have secured 3 of the leading construction companies in the UK to deliver what will be a world-leading national and international resource.

Much of the work to create PHE Harlow is highly specialised so it’s especially pleasing to have secured 3 of the best companies in their fields to deliver that work. This is yet another milestone for PHE and we can now look forward to the chosen contractors coming on board and bringing their considerable wealth of experience and skills to our programme.

We are also delighted at the very significant opportunities that the construction of PHE Harlow will offer in the surrounding area.

Nigel Brook, Kier Group Executive Director, Construction and Infrastructure Services, said:

This £160 million project is another significant award for Kier in bioscience, building on our track record as a specialist delivery partner in the sector with projects including biomedical research facilities for the University of Cambridge with Project Capella and the Sainsbury laboratory as well as the state-of-the-art Derriford Research Facility for Plymouth University.

We’re looking forward to providing a state-of-the-art facility which will help Public Health England to keep improving the nation’s health and wellbeing.

Ian Vickers, Managing Director, Wates Construction Home Counties, commented:

PHE Harlow will play a pivotal role in improving public health, providing state-of-the-art facilities for industry-leading scientists and doctors to address some of the most pressing medical and environmental challenges the world is currently facing.

It is therefore a particular privilege for Wates to be awarded 2 of the 4 lots. It is also a huge responsibility, and over the next year we will be working closely with PHE and other partners as we prepare to start on site in early 2019.

Richard Offord, Managing Director of VolkerFitzpatrick said:

We are delighted to be working with PHE on such a forward-thinking project. The new public health science campus will support the growth of the local area and we are looking forward to starting work on this exciting opportunity.

PHE Launches Change4Life Campaign Around Children’s Snacking

New Change4Life campaign encourages parents to 'look for 100-calorie snacks, two a day max' to cut children’s sugar intake

Sugar

Sugar

Public Health England (PHE) is helping parents take control of their children’s snacking by launching the first Change4Life campaign promoting healthier snacks.

This is because half of children’s sugar intake, currently around 7 sugar cubes a day, comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks, leading to obesity and dental decay.

Each year children are consuming almost 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; around 100 portions of sweets; nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams; washed down with over 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

On average, children are consuming at least 3 unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming 4 or more. The overall result is that children consume 3 times more sugar than is recommended.

The new Change4Life campaign encourages parents to look for ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ to help them purchase healthier snacks than the ones they currently buy.

Selected supermarkets are supporting the campaign. As part of their wider work promoting good health, Tesco will help parents – instore and online – choose affordable, healthier snacks that are 100 calories or less. Co-op will also provide tasty and healthy snacking products, making it easier for customers to make healthier choices on the go.

Parents can also get money-off vouchers from Change4Life to help them try healthier snack options, including malt loaf, lower-sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.

Many of the unhealthy snacks children consume regularly are high in sugar and also typically high in calories, for example:

  • an ice-cream contains around 175 calories
  • a pack of crisps contains around 190 calories
  • a chocolate bar contains around 200 calories
  • a pastry contains around 270 calories

The ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ tip applies to all snacks apart from fruit and vegetables, as children should also be encouraged to eat a variety of these to achieve their 5 A Day.

Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England, said:

The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned.

To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – look for 100 calories snacks, two a day max.

Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said:

The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mind-blowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren’t.

This rule of thumb from Change4Life will help parents make healthier choices, which can only be a good thing.

PHE’s improved Change4Life ‘Food Scanner’ app also shows parents how many calories, sugar, salt and saturated fat is in their food to help make healthier choices easier. It can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

With a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, tackling obesity requires wider action and is not just limited to individual efforts from parents. PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20% of sugar from the products children consume most by 2020, with work to reduce calories due to start in 2018.

Poisons From Cigarettes Reach Major Body Organs In Seconds

Public Health England's new TV advert highlights the dangers of tar in cigarettes, urging England’s 7 million smokers to quit using Smokefree this New Year

Poisons From Cigarettes

Poisons From Cigarettes

Public Health England (PHE) releases a new TV advert highlighting the dangers of tar in cigarettes, as England’s 7 million smokers are urged to make a quit attempt with help from Smokefree this New Year. The latest campaign shows how poisons from tar in cigarettes enter the bloodstream, spreading around the body within seconds and causing damage to major organs.

To help explain the ongoing internal harm being caused, a group of 7 lifelong smokers – including TV presenter and entrepreneur Hilary Devey – declare their intention to quit in January after seeing the results of a lab demonstration. The test results show how their smoking has led to elevated levels of cadmium (a metal used in batteries), cancer-causing nitrosamines and carbon monoxide in their blood. These toxic substances are amongst over 4,000 chemicals released into the body with each cigarette smoked, including more than 70 known cancer-causing compounds.

Elevated levels of these substances were seen in the participants’ blood and can lead to an increased risk of major damage to the body.

Exposure to cadmium for a long period of time is associated with an increased risk of damage to the kidneys and bones and may lead to lung cancer. Research has shown that if you regularly smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day, you are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer compared with a non-smoker.

Tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) are potent chemical compounds, many of which are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). They can cause DNAdamage, cell death and are associated with cancers of the pancreas, mouth, respiratory and digestive tracts.

Carbon monoxide decreases the ability of the blood to carry oxygen and consequently puts a strain on the heart. Carbon monoxide is also associated with an increased risk of blood clots and coronary heart disease.

In the new film that supports the TV advert, Dr Dawn Harper, GP from Gloucester, explains the results of the tests to the smokers and how the quality of their blood would start to improve when they quit – ridding them of harmful poisons which cause major damage to the body. Dr Harper advises the smokers that there are many ways to quit, including free proven support from NHS Smokefree. People can choose what works best for them: face-to-face help, stop smoking aids, a quitting app, email, social media, and SMS support.

Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England says:

Smoking is a deadly habit. Each year it kills 79,000 people in England and for every death, another 20 smokers have a smoking-related disease. That means one person is admitted to hospital every minute of every day due to smoking.

Our new TV ad shows how every cigarette sends a flood of poisonous chemicals through the bloodstream in seconds. People know that tar damages the lungs, but it’s less well understood that the poisons also reach the other major organs in the body. We are urging every smoker to take advantage of the free Smokefree support and quit for good this New Year.

Dr Dawn Harper, GP and medical journalist says:

I see the damaging effects of smoking in my surgery almost every day. Tar from cigarettes causes damage to major organs, the bones and increases your risk of a range of cancers and diseases. But, the good news is that no matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting can reduce your chances of developing cancer, heart and lung disease and other serious smoking related illnesses. Some of the benefits are almost immediate, with improved energy and breathing within a matter of days.

I know how difficult it is to stop but the important thing is to commit to trying again, no matter how many times you might have tried and failed in the past – it’s never too late.

Hilary Devey, TV presenter, entrepreneur and lifelong smoker says:

I’ve smoked at least 20-a-day for over 40 years. Like many, I’ve been hooked on cigarettes and ignoring the damage – even though I know the harm I’m doing, I’ve found it extremely difficult to quit for good. Even a stroke 3 years ago only led me to stop temporarily.

Seeing the high levels of poisonous chemicals in my blood from these tests really hit home how dangerous continuing to smoke is – and for that reason, I’m done!

I’m absolutely determined to try again this New Year and I hope other smokers across the country will join me making full use of all the free help available at Smokefree – this time next year we could be celebrating one year smoke-free and feeling the benefits.

Smokefree provides motivation, information and support for smokers who want to stop. Just search ‘Smokefree’ for free support and advice to help you quit smoking.

Cold Weather Prompts Further Health Warnings From PHE

Public Health England (PHE) issues cold weather alerts and health warnings following the arrival of colder weather in some parts of England

Winter Ground

Winter Ground

Arrival of cold weather across Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and North West of England that is due to spread across the rest of the country has prompted further warnings from Public Health England to look out for others and to take extra care during the cold, snowy conditions.

A band of rain, sleet and snow followed by a very cold and frosty period is forecast to spread southeast across the country from today until Saturday. Because every winter cold triggers thousands of illnesses and deaths across the UK, PHE is urging people to wrap up warm and take extra care when out and about.

Dr Thomas Waite of the Extreme Events team at PHE said:

Cold weather like this is part of winter – but just because we’re used to it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take steps to protect ourselves from falling ill. Every winter thousands of people die from illnesses linked to exposure to the cold when indoors and outside – that’s why it’s so important we all look out for each other.

During this Christmas period many people will be out and about more, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared when leaving the home. Also, there will be a number of people who will have been on their own all this time. If you can, check on family, friends and neighbours who are older, have young children or who have heart and lung conditions. All these groups are particularly vulnerable to cold.

Keep a close eye on weather forecasts so you’re up-to-date with what’s happening in your area, keep homes heated to at least 18°C and remember wearing several thin layers can be more effective than fewer thicker ones.

Steve Willington, Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office said:

A band of rain, sleet and snow will slowly clear east during Wednesday, with sunny but cold weather following. However some wintry showers could also move into North Sea coasts. A cold, breezy night follows with widespread frost, and a risk of ice. Thursday will then be cold and sunny, although wintry showers are likely to spread southeast from Northwest England into the Midlands. This will be followed by winds easing, and a very cold, and frosty overnight period. Milder conditions are expected to move across all parts by Saturday morning.

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