Media Releases

On this page you will find the latest press releases from Surrey Heartlands CCG.

Quit for COVID

Quit for COVID: There’s never been a more important time for smokers to quit!

Smokers in Surrey are being urged to quit to reduce the risks of severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.

NHS Surrey Heartlands CCG is backing the national #QuitforCovid campaign and is joining calls from Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer for smokers to try to quit to protect themselves and others.

Smoking tobacco damages the lungs, weakens the immune system and causes a range of severe respiratory problems. Evidence so far suggests people who smoke may be at increased risk of severe disease if they get COVID-19.

Dr Charlotte Canniff, NHS Surrey Heartlands CCG Clinical Chair says: “Whilst this is a worrying time for all of us, we are all conscious of the need to protect ourselves and others around us. Quitting smoking is a very good way to reduce the chances you’ll develop complications from COVID-19 infection.

“It is never too late to see the health benefits of quitting smoking and you're never too old to quit. Even if you've tried before and didn't manage, don't give up on quitting because you can do it. Many smokers try several times before they succeed. Evidence shows getting the right support and using stop smoking aids to help ease the cravings gives you a much better chance of success.”

Ruth Hutchinson, Interim Director of Public Health at Surrey County Council, added: “Quitting smoking is one of the best things smokers can do to protect their own health, the health of those around them and to minimise the impact of coronavirus. It is vital we all do what we can to stay safe and healthy during this outbreak. The One You Surrey stop smoking service is ready to support our residents with specialist stop smoking support.”

As well as reducing the risks from complications from coronavirus, quitting smoking quickly improves your circulation and your breathing. It also reduces the risks of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. In the longer term quitting is also linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke.

The stop smoking service, One You Surrey offers stop smoking telephone support to existing and new patients.

• Call: 01737 652168
• Visit: and click ‘Get started’
• Text: 07494 681070

For more information on giving up smoking visit:

Once smoke free, health benefits include:

• After 8 hours carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce by more than half and oxygen levels return to normal.
• After 48 hours carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris 
• After 72 hours breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes begin to relax
• After 2 to 12 weeks lung function and blood circulation starts to improve, making physical activity like walking and running easier
• After 3 to 9 months any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases further.


pdf 200618 Quit For COVID-19 (147 KB)

Rest home staff go all out to reduce risks to residents

Nadine Schneider, manager at Pinehurst Rest Home located in Boxhill in Surrey, is feeling blessed. During the past 11 weeks of lockdown, her caring staff have stopped at nothing to minimise the risk of infection of COVID-19 and keep their rest home residents safe and well. A mix of Nadine’s positive attitude, innovative ideas and unfailing energy together with a strong bond between staff, residents and relatives, has made lockdown bearable for even the most vulnerable in our community.

Pinehurst’s nine staff and 15 residents are one big happy family, and extremely fond of one another. The staff can rely on Nadine to transport them to and from work so they don’t have to rely on public transport. Since the start of lockdown, those whose households pose a greater risk to infection, have offered to stay over at the rest home for however long it takes. There is no need for anyone to bring food to the rest home or increase their risk to exposure by making trips to the shops as Nadine is catering for everyone. She is also on a mission to make sure that everyone’s emotional and mental wellbeing isn’t being overlooked and they are getting enough sleep.

Relatives of the residents, have been more than generous in their offers of help. Nadine considers herself very lucky as one relative who works in product design in Manchester arranged a delivery of visors. Like so many, relatives have found it difficult having to stay away from the rest home and it is especially tough for the residents. To help make things easier, staff have facilitated Skype video calls as well as telephone calls for those who prefer to stick to more familiar ways of keeping in touch.

Never missing an opportunity to bring cheer and happiness into the home, the staff took advantage of their fabulous surroundings and threw a garden party to celebrate VE day. For those who wanted, a drop or two of bubbly was on offer, a fitting accompaniment to the mouth-watering cakes created by their talented resident chef.

Nadine said: “I got some really lovely photos through from family of residents during this period so we looked at old photos of loved ones together.

“We’re Skyping every day, always in touch with relatives. Some residents prefer an old fashioned phone call but some really do enjoy a Skype of FaceTime call.

“My staff and I are all open with each other and they are in good spirits, we’ve got a really lovely team and they would always tell me if they were struggling.”

pdf 200609 Surrey rest home staff go all out to reduce risks to residents (110 KB)


Jack Wagstaff, North West Surrey ICP Director, appeared on BBC Radio Surrey’s breakfast show on Wednesday 17 June and was interviewed by Adrian Harms. He talked about the dedication and creativity of staff in care homes in Surrey Heartlands, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, how they are embracing new technology and other innovative approaches to support those in their care and what we're doing to support them. Listen to the interview by clicking here (interview at 3:16:00) please note this is an external website.

CCG leads the way to become Carer Confident

Helping NHS staff who have caring responsibilities achieve a good work life balance is fundamental at Surrey Heartlands CCG. The organisation strongly advocates that this approach benefits staff, the people they care for and the business. With an estimated 1 in 5 NHS staff combining work with caring this is not only essential from a moral perspective but also in terms of supporting our workforce; it also reflects the carer element of the NHS People Plan.

Carers Week (8 June to 14 June) this year is focusing on making carers visible. This, therefore makes it a perfect time to announce that Surrey Heartlands CCG is the first CCG in the country to have been accredited with Carer Confident ‘Active Level’ status. Carers UK launched this benchmarking scheme in 2019 to recognise employer best practice in supporting staff carers.

The CCG believes in tackling the challenges of supporting staff carers head on through a range of practical solutions so people can thrive at work. Our aim is to be the most carer friendly organisation in Surrey and encourage others to follow our example.

Dr Sue Tresman, Independent Carers Lead, said: “I am delighted and proud that Surrey Heartlands CCG has successfully demonstrated a very strong commitment to supporting their wonderful Carers in juggling work, caring and busy lives outside of caring.”

Vicky Stobbart, Guildford and Waverley ICP Director added: “We truly recognise the importance of providing a compassionate workplace to those who are or who may become carers. We want to embed a culture where carers are recognised, respected and supported.”

We are committed to ensuring the workplace can support carers. This year we have built on the results of our 2019 staff carers’ survey and have developed:

  • New Flexible working policy which includes a dedicated carers section

  • The 'Essentials of Management and Leadership' course, a manager's' toolkit on Carers

  • Dedicated staff carers information pages on our intranet

  • A staff/carers workshop to co-design staff/carer contingency planning tool

  • Regular staff/carer surgeries offering 1:1 confidential support

  • Staff/Carer items in our Staff Health and Well-being bulletins

  • A new Staff Carers Policy which is currently under review

  • During Carers week we will be hosting a 'Care for a cuppa' virtual event

It is a really great achievement that the CCG has been accredited under this scheme and we look forward to supporting other partners within the Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System on their journey to achieve Carer Confident accreditation.

pdf 200603 Carers accreditation (155 KB)

Social prescribing – providing support during COVID-19

Lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic can be extremely difficult for some people who are experiencing loneliness, anxiety and other non-medical pressures. A scheme to provide appropriate emotional and practical support to members of the community who are isolated or struggling is available in the Guildford and Waverley area.

In the same way that a patient with a prescription can get their medication from a pharmacist, social prescribing enables people to access the services that will help them for non-medical individual support.

Social prescribing is a way for local authorities, GPs, and Adult Social Care to refer people to a link worker. Social Prescribing Link Workers (SPLWs) give people time, helping them to focus on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

Social prescribing works for a wide range of people, including those:

  • with one or more long-term conditions
  • who need support with their mental health
  • who are lonely or isolated
  • who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing

SPLWs provide practical help by linking people with local volunteer schemes or NHS responders. Emotional support can also come from SPLWs themselves who make regular welfare calls to their ‘clients’. SPLWs can also link those in need to community-based emotional support, befriending services as well as signpost to mental health support services such as IAPT.

Despite the current restrictions, social prescribing can still enable people to access regular activities like social groups and exercise classes, the only difference is that rather than face-to-face it will be carried out online via video conferencing apps.

Some examples of how SPLWs can connect and provide support

Mr A is in his 90s and cares for his wife who has dementia. At the start of lockdown his SPLW linked him to his local volunteer group. This enabled the couple to continue to get their shopping and prescriptions. However, as lockdown has carried on, Mr A started to feel the strain due to isolation and his wife’s dementia. His SPLW picked up on the drop in his mood during their weekly welfare telephone calls. As a result, she was able to refer Mr A to the RAF Benevolent Fund who work in partnership with The Silver Line and a telephone friendship group. This network provides access to a weekly telephone call with six other RAF veterans; giving him something to look forward to each week.

Mr S has a history of anxiety and poor physical health. His anxiety has been steadily increasing since the beginning of lockdown but he has been able to talk through his anxieties and share his feelings about living alone during this time with a SPLW.
He was very worried about the change to his routine and wanted to continue to do his shopping at the supermarket. His SPLW arranged regular food deliveries and linked him to his local volunteer scheme so they could collect his prescriptions from the Pharmacy. The SPLW also referred Mr S to an NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service to help with his increasing anxiety levels that he has been experiencing during this period.

Mrs W has a history of mental health and a physical disability. She is also caring for her husband who has suffered a recent illness. She was struggling with the loss of her routine; especially the social groups she has come to rely on for her emotional wellbeing. With the help of her SPLW she was connected to a group that provides technology support for older and disabled people. As a result, Mrs W has been able to participate in her weekly groups online. This has made her feel less isolated and more positive about the current situation.

Vicky Stobbart, Managing Director, Guildford and Waverley ICP said:

“It is so encouraging to see the great work that is taking place in our community, particularly for those who are feeling lonely and anxious during these difficult times. Social prescribing can link people with many sources of support within the community. It provides a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and wellbeing.”

If a member of your family, a neighbour or someone you know is struggling at the moment please let them know about the support that is available to them through social prescribing. SPLWs can provide links to appropriate advice, support and networks. Referrals can be made by a GP.

pdf Social Prescribing during COVID-19 lockdown (161 KB)

Emotional wellbeing support from the comfort of your own home

There were over 1,100 visits to the Surrey Virtual Wellbeing Hub on Healthy Surrey in the first week after launch. Over 70 people expressed an interest in wellbeing sessions available on the Hub in the first 10 days.

The Hub has been created for Surrey residents who want to access additional mental health and emotional wellbeing support, particularly during the COVID-19 when feelings of isolation and anxiety may be running high. From the comfort of their own home they can view, register and access online activities, including virtual coffee mornings, group chat sessions and tailored exercise classes.

The Hub is a joint partnership between Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership, Surrey County Council, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Community Connections lead providers – Mary Frances Trust, Richmond Fellowship and Catalyst - and Surrey Coalition for Disabled People. Working together they managed to get the website up and running in just five weeks.

It is designed to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for connecting people to appropriate online mental health and emotional wellbeing support, either through self-referral or referral from a third party. One resident who has been accessing the Hub said:

“As a person who is totally blind and who lives alone, getting out in normal time, let alone during this period of lockdown, can be an immense challenge, I miss out on a number of social activities and support. 

“Many people in my situation find themselves spending a great deal of time on their own, I am currently shielding so I am unable to go out for some time to come. 

“The ability to have access to so many virtual group activities levels the playing field and allows those activities to be on offer to people like me.  I have participated in shared conversations and all manner of stimulating activities at the touch of a button!

“Even having the opportunity for some simple gossiping is hugely beneficial for my wellbeing and feeling of being connected to others.”

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council said:

“The positive response and feedback received from residents who have used the Hub highlights the importance of collaborative working and the positive impact technology can have on a person’s mental health. I’d like to thank all partners for their support and involvement to help support our residents during what is a very unsettling time for many.”

Stephanie Isherwood, Transformation Manager from Surrey and Borders Partnership said:

“The positivity and determination to succeed from everyone involved and the refusal to let the usual barriers be barriers shows you what can be done when there is a collective will and desire for creativity.

“To meet timescales we developed a minimum viable product - the bare bones of what’s needed technically. We’re now working on improving it and building a more ideal solution that will give us a robust website for the long term.

“I’m proud about how we have been reaching out and making a difference to new people. Enabling people who have not been able to join face to face sessions, even before COVID-19, to connect and join in. During the first week alone around 20 - 25 new people joined sessions”.

To visit the Hub visit:

pdf Emotional Wellbeing Support Case Study (535 KB)

Dietitians cook up ideas to provide a new menu of support

Those at risk of malnutrition, struggling with their appetite or losing weight, rely on dietitians for help. Prior to COVID-19, patients in East Surrey routinely saw the First Community Health and Care dietetic team in care homes, clinics, their own homes or community hospital wards.

Sadly, their world was turned upside down when COVID-19 forced face to face dietetic services to be put on hold. However, thanks to some innovative ideas, dietetic support is still available.

Prescribing Support Dietitian, Kate Evans, who works for Surrey Heartlands East Surrey Integrated Care Partnership, explains how the dietitian team have overcome numerous challenges presented due to COVID-19:

“We have had to adapt to new ways of working and trial different options to discover what suits patients the best. Embracing change, we have introduced telephone clinics and consultations and are promoting and expanding online platforms and resources available to patients.

“We are determined to reduce the impact COVID-19 has on our patients’ nutritional status, for instance our new COVID-19 Food First advice sheets, available online, help provide useful hints and tips on managing symptoms”.

Complementing the advice sheets are a suite of videos showing how to make a range of fortified nutritional products. Produced by Kate and Juliette Harmer, Lead Prescribing and Care Home Support Dietitian, they highlight how people can make nourishing drinks and snacks at home to increase their intake of calories and protein.

The team have also developed virtual clinics and group sessions which they are currently trialling. Dietitian Cleo Kamere ran a group for the condition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) on Thursday 7 May and describes how well the session went:

“Using the Zoom platform, seven patients from Surrey attended our new one hour group session, designed to help manage their IBS symptoms. During COVID-19 they have been unable to have face to face contact and the session provided them with the opportunity to interact with me which they were eager to do”.

Kate's colleague, Registered Dietitian Anna FitzGibbon, appeared on BBC Radio Surrey’s afternoon show this week and was interviewed by Allison Ferns. She talked about dietary issues including those experiencing weight loss and poor appetite during lockdown and the new ways of working of the Dietitian service and the difference they are making to the local community. Listen by clicking here (interview at 53:56) please note this is an external website.

pdf 200512 Dietitians cook up ideas to provide a new menu of support (313 KB)