January Jolt into Frozen February
I'm a January baby so I usually start the year with a bout of enthuasiam. There is something rather freeing by shedding off the overindulgence of Christmas and snapping back to it; deciding what track my life is going to follow this year and the milestones. I'm strategic by nature. I love the planning, the visioning and visualising the realisation of those plans. This year was slightly different. I was sluggish. I shrugged off the calls of 'Dry January' (are you kidding me? I need a birthday drink!) and Veganuary (I think I'll wait for Vegruary). I half-heartened resumed my fitness regime and my step counting. I didn't want to though. I just didn't want to. The skies were grey, air damp and cold and nothing seemed any different to life in 2017. But the evenings were getting longer. Slowly hope and promise of a New Year crept in and before I knew it I bounced into February, withdrawing my need for box sets of noughties programmes, found a great app - 7Women (free, istore) and set step targets again. Oh, I finally took control of the chocolate bar and Lola cupcake addiction.
Part of this unusual muddling start was I think, a lack of meaty project for me. I typically tie up loose ends before Christmas, come back, clear out my email and electronic files and on a clean sheet of paper, map out what I want to do. This past month has been busy with finishing up the 'flu vaccine season and awaiting the decision making around which vaccines would be used for winter 2018/19. Going forward we're having aTIP for over 65s, QIV for clinically at risk, TIV for others and Fluenz (QAIV) for healthy children. A bit complex and implications for stock ordering but ultimately a better service for our NHS patients. We have had a second successful 'flu vaccine season in London and I'm heartened by all the people who want to protect themselves and their loved ones from this unpleasant disease. On a personal note, February is almost over and not one member of my immmediate family (all vaccinated) so much as had a cold over the winter.
While there has been no big project, I've been busy writing up academic papers of some of the project work we have done in London. I was so happy to see the Journal of Practice Nursing accept and publish our work on sharing of learning from CQC 'outstanding' rated practices on how to improve quality of immunisation services. Only 1% of general practices get rated 'outstanding' and at the time of writing only 9 practices in London were considered outstanding by Care Quality Commission. I'm beavering away to get other papers out as while they may not be academic rigorous, I believe they have much to offer the body of evidence. For one, we can demonstrate what works or doesn't work in the real world where you can't easily control for factors, unlike a carefully controlled study.
I helped out too with a mock Osphe exam. Funny how I may have done mine ten years but little has changed. The key to it is knowing who are you talking to and what is it that they want. I smiled as I thought of what one of former colleagues said when asked what it was like going from a registrar to a consultant, he replied "It's like doing Osphes all the time though sometimes you have more time to prepare and other times, no time".
February is the time of GP trainee change and this month I said goodbye to one GP trainee and welcomed a new. Like the New Year, there is sadness in letting one era go but excitment at the prospects of the next 6 months. It is looking like we will continue dividing the GP trainee's time between NHSE and PHE, providing exposure to two different organisation's way of working. I also get the added benefit of finding out about the other projects the GP is working on, thus learning about what my public health colleagues are working on that are removed from the world of imunisations and commissioning. Fast food places around schools is one hot topic, Thrive is another and of course preparing for devolution.
Tomorrow I'm off to talk to sexual health colleagues about Men ACWY and the importance of #beingsexuallyhealthy and #healthyintimacy. Meningoccoal disease is spread thorugh close proximity, in particular kissing, so targeting 18-25 year olds (who are the most affected and are main carriers) with Men ACWY is a key immunisation programme. Sadly uptake is not as good as I would like. We're offering free Men ACWY to all 18-25 year olds in general practice and in community pharmacies across London. I'm hopeful that we will get people more aware of easily they can be protected.
Right now, I'm off to recharge my batteries with a brisk walk before diving back into the spreadsheets of surveillance data and pulling together a talk on vaccine incidents for Thursday's Quality and Safety meeting. As to that meaty project? Well, NHS year runs April to April. Nothing like Spring to put a spring back into your step.