Patient Participation Group Newsletter: Summer 2024

Welcome to our second Newsletter of 2024– we hope you find something useful and of interest

As the PPG we are the patients’ voice, and we aim to represent the people who are registered as patients with WMP. If you are a patient of Whitstable Medical Practice, we would love to hear from you.


Practice gets thumbs up – but survey raises questions

Following the Practice’s patient survey, the PPG has summarised the results, answered some of the questions people have been asking about the Practice and explaining how to get appointments.

The Practice has been given the thumbs up from local people. According to the latest annual patient survey, almost 90 per cent of people who responded agreed or strongly agreed that their experience of the Practice is positive.

The quality of care provided was also seen as overwhelmingly positive. While most people who replied agreed that they found the patient coordinators helpful, around 20 per cent said they didn’t find it easy to get through on the phone and about 12 per cent were not confident that they could get an appointment when they thought they needed it.

The article is on the Practice website here.


Don’t miss out on breast screening

The Breast Screening service has caught up with the backlog caused by the pandemic. Several thousand women were notified by text message last year that the mobile screening unit would be in the Tesco car park, and that those women have been sent letters inviting them for screening.

The appointments are well planned, and women are seen by the team in the unit promptly. So, if you missed yours for whatever reason, please think again.

ou can either telephone Breast Screening Services at Kent and Canterbury Hospital on 01227 78300
Or go online to NHS - Breast Screening

Having fun is good for your mental health!

Although this newsletter looks at some mental health issues, it is important to remember that we can release some of the pressures we face by remembering to have fun. We are allowed to smile, laugh or sit and do nothing. Just taking ten minutes to spend time outdoors in a garden or a park, breathing slowly and shrugging our shoulders can bring a sense of being less tense. Having a walk with a friend and sharing worries can help too. If you can sit and share a flask of tea or coffee even better.

If you belong to the leisure centre, but have not had time to go recently, make the time for you, because you will feel better for it. The One You service provides green walks where all can join in and become fitter, and make new friends who will help us keep the habit of walking. Or contact

0791 781 4564


Suicide prevention – help is at hand

Approximately 100 people will commit suicide in an average week in the UK, with up to 1750 people trying. Latest statistics for Kent and Medway showed 137 suicides committed last year, which is higher than the South East Area and the national average. 90% of people that take their own lives have poor mental health and yet 67% of people that committed suicide in Kent and Medway were not known to secondary mental health services.

Men aged between 45-49 are at the greatest risk of suicide, and males are 3 times more likely to than females. Kent and Medway have two dedicated, free to access support options which operate 24 hours a day. Either call 0800 107 0160 or text the word Kent to 85258. These services can also provide advice to professionals, parents, carers or friends of someone who may be suffering.

Help and advice is available from Mind Mid Kent

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis you can now phone 111 and select the mental health option. This will give you access to someone to speak to.

We know it is difficult to define crisis, however, someone could be in crisis if:

  • They feel like they want to hurt themselves, or someone else
  • They hear strange voices
  • They feel that people are watching or want to hurt them
  • They are experiencing extreme distress that seems overwhelming or they can’t cope with day-to-day life.

Urgent Mental Health support can be accessed on 0800 783 9111 or 111 option2

Also Live Well Kent Scheme 0800 5677 699 is for people aged 17 and over. People can
apply for help via an online form.


Diabetic eye screening


Diabetic eye screening is important as it helps to prevent sight loss. If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk of damage from diabetic retinopathy. Screening can detect this condition early before you notice any changes to your vision.

Eye screening is an important part of your diabetes care. Untreated diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of sight loss. When the condition is caught early, treatment is effective at reducing or preventing damage to your sight. Diabetic eye screening is not covered as part of your normal eye examination with an optician.

The NHS invites everyone with diabetes aged 12 and over for diabetic eye screening. How often you are invited for screening will depend on the results from your last two screening appointments.

Don’t forget, your annual visit to the diabetic nurse specialist is important, please make sure that you attend your appointment.


Shingles Update

In our August 2023 newsletter we wrote that if you are eligible for a Shingles vaccine, you would be contacted by WMP. Remember, Shingles can occur more than once even if you had Chicken Pox. The virus remains dormant in the central nervous system and can be triggered by a stressful event.

The rash follows a nerve in the body and so can be quite widespread and can possibly leave you with permanent pain. People cannot get Shingles from you, but they can get Chicken Pox if they have not had it before. You are particularly contagious if your shingles rash is oozing.

The invites have now been sent by text message to 2000 people. These included everyone who has had their 65th birthday since September 2023, or is considered to be severely immunosuppressed. You will have two injections, several weeks apart. If you received an invite, but were too busy to respond, please contact the practice to find out how you can make an appointment

Lyme Disease

As soon as the sun arrives many people are keen to get outside and walk in the countryside, often wearing shorts and tee shirts enjoying the warmth of the sun on their skin. This was the norm for our parents. However, Lyme Disease was not as prevalent then. Lyme Disease is an increasingly common bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of an infected tick. It is caused by being bitten by an infected tick, which causes a bacterial infection. Ticks are tiny parasites related to spiders, mites, scorpions. They feed off the blood of animals (humans too).

If you think you have been bitten by a tick, you should remove it carefully, ideally with a plastic tick removal card or tick twister. Or with specialist tick removal tweezers. DO not squeeze the body of the tick when removing it from the skin.


Joining services up

The Kent and Medway Integrated Care System (ICS), brings together NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector to improve local services and support healthier living. Its mission is to ‘work together to make health and wellbeing better than any partner can do alone.’

From talking to people across Kent and Medway, the ICS has now set six main objectives. These are to:

  • give children and young people the best start in life
  • tackle the wider determinants to prevent ill health
  • support happy and healthy living
  • empower people to best manage their health conditions
  •  improve health and care services
  • support and grow our workforce.

You can read more about the ICS at



The bus is back!

The bus which stops outside Estuary View is up and running again after much campaigning by WMP, the PPG, local councillors and others. The bus route went live again on 5 May and is now on the timetable as route 400 (previously 4).


Hypertension Heroes keeps the pressure on!

Hypertension Heroes, is a scheme where PPG members, sometimes supported by GPs, go into the community to offer people blood pressure checks. High blood pressure is linked with over 50% of heart attacks and strokes. It doesn’t usually have any symptoms, so a blood pressure check is the only way to find out if it is high.

As well as regular sessions at the Umbrella Centre, the PPG has offered checks at a Spontaneity event at Whitstable Leisure Centre swimming pool and for the second time at Whitstable Town Football Club.

On March 16 at WFC we saw 37 people and measured their blood pressure. A significant number were signposted to services at their doctor’s surgery.


New X-Ray Machine

The new X-Ray machine at the Estuary View Urgent Treatment Centre is now in place and helping to give people a quicker diagnosis - and preventing the need for people to travel to a hospital for an X-Ray.


Could you help local medical students?

Do you have a long-term medical condition, such as asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, cataracts, inflammatory bowel disease, or are you recovering from a stroke?

Kent and Medway Medical School needs volunteer patients to be involved in online historytaking consultations and inperson physical examinations. has a full list of long-term conditions and how to get involved. They would welcome interest from people who reflect the diversity of our local population.



Let’s get digital

More and more things we do involve using the internet. For some people, that’s second nature, though not everyone is comfortable going online. But help is at hand from the team at Digital Kent.

Whether it’s downloading and using the NHS App, doing the weekly shopping or keeping in touch with friends and family, they can give you the confidence to make the best of the internet. To book a session and find out more, visit or call 03000 410 950.

A day in the life…of the Audiology team

Our PPG reporter interviewed two of the Audiology team, a father and son, working from Estuary View.

What led you to become an Audiologist?

Father: I’ve always loved acoustics and sound, and I love music and listening to people, so I sort of fell into it.
Son: My Dad really enjoys his job, and it seemed a natural progression for me too.

What training requirements are there?

Son: A minimum of a Foundation Degree in Audiology is required which includes a year in the field.

Can you describe a typical day at Estuary View?

Father: As all patients need a GP referral, we start with a ready list of names to look at, and check for any messages from GPs. I like to arrive early, ready for patients. I check-in with Reception, look at my list, and check my equipment is working correctly.
Son: Patients are seen for several reasons, but the main one is for “Assess and Fit“ which is a first time appointment and usually lasts 45 minutes. I ask patients about their relevant medical records, and then do a 15-minute hearing test. We give the result right away, so we can chat with the patient about any level of hearing loss. If a hearing aid is agreed to be necessary, this can be programmed and fitted in the same appointment. Each hearing aid is programmed to the individual patient’s needs. Other typical appointments might include re-programming a hearing aid or doing a full adjustment. On average patients come back to see us once a year. Receptionists support our roles by supplying tubing and batteries.” (Patients can get this help on weekdays between 10am and 2pm at Estuary View).


Have you heard that…

  • hearing loss creeps up on you
  • one in six of us are affected by hearing loss
  • the two most commonly types of hearing loss include age / nerve -related, and mechanical hearing loss (or a bit of both )?
  • the longer you leave hearing loss without aids, the longer it takes to get used to a hearing aid
  • the average person leaves their hearing loss 7 years before seeking help
  • men tend to lose their hearing sooner
  • we can forget what certain sounds sound like

(Source: The Audiology Team)

If you or a family member suspects you are mis-hearing, just ask your GP for a referral to the audiology team.