Media Releases

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

The NHS is still here for you – make sure you get care when and where you need it

A major new drive has been launched to persuade the public to seek urgent care and treatment from the NHS when they need it.

Over recent weeks there has been significantly lower numbers of people contacting their GP practices or attending emergency departments and urgent treatment centres. Delays in getting medical help, advice and treatment pose a long-term risk to people’s health and wellbeing and ultimately their lives.

Dr Charlotte Canniff, local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We understand people are worried about placing a burden on the NHS and we know that people are concerned about coronavirus.

"However, the NHS is still here for you, there is capacity within our services and we have worked hard to ensure it is safe for you to access essential services.”

Seeking medical help is one of the four reasons that people can safely leave home, in line with government guidance. If you or a member of your family experience symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke, are a worried parent or have concerns about conditions such as cancer you should seek help. If you have a symptom that you are worried about, you must contact your GP practice.

Dr Canniff added: “People really should contact their GP or use the 111 online service if they have urgent care needs, or 999 in emergencies; attending hospital if they are told they should. If you cannot get help using the online NHS 111 service then please do call 111.

“The current situation does mean services are being delivered differently, in some cases virtually, but we continue to deliver health advice and treatment safely to meet the needs of everyone. For example, if you need medical help from your GP, contact them either online or by phone to be assessed.

“I would also encourage people to continue to use other vital health services such as maternity appointments, mental health support and cancer treatment. Your clinician will discuss if there are any issues posed by coronavirus. If we ignore problems or treatment it can have serious consequences.

“This also applies to routine vaccinations for babies and children. We know they protect against serious and potentially deadly illnesses and it is imperative that even during the coronavirus outbreak we do not stop protecting ourselves and our communities against other viruses.”

If you need medical help and it’s not a life threatening emergency, remember to call your GP practice, call NHS 111 or visit first.

  pdf The NHS is still here for you – make sure you get care when and where you need it. (406 KB)

Audiology team adapt support to ensure patients stay safe at home

Feeling isolated and anxious during lockdown? Now imagine you have a hearing impairment. Relying on a hearing aid is tough enough as it is but what if you run into trouble with your device, what do you do if you can’t nip out for a face to face appointment with your audiologist?

Determined to provide their patients with all the care they need, First Community Health and Care Audiology Service in Surrey Heartlands have risen to the challenge. Their team of 12, which includes seven audiologists, two assistants and three administrators, are all usually based in hospitals or clinics in East Surrey. Although used to providing face to face appointments, they now find themselves having to adjust to home working and relying on telephone and email to communicate with patients who are living in the community.

Undefeated by technical issues and anything else the current situation throws at them, this tight knit team are adapting to new ways of working. Adopting new approaches, means that they are successfully assisting patients and helping them avoid any unnecessary risks connected with leaving the safety of their own home. Many of their patients are over 70 and some are feeling anxious and isolated. By taking a positive and proactive approach, the audiology team are managing to meet their patients’ needs, including:

  • Taking patient histories for their hearing assessment /re-assessment appointment
  • Discussing issues with hearing aids, assisting with replacements and trouble shooting
  • Counselling patients struggling with Tinnitus
  • Discussing the posting of replacement hearing aids, ear moulds, replacement tubes and batteries as well as organising the collection and delivery of broken hearing aids from vulnerable adults, all free of charge
  • Arranging to see a limited number of face to face patients if appropriate.

Faye Hopkins-Thorpe, Lead Audiologist said “We have completely reinvented how we work! Some of our patients are very anxious, understandably, so the team are making case by case judgements on how best to support patients and the admin team are doing a really good job of picking up these patients”.

Deborah Chapman, Assistant Audiologist said “Solving a hearing aid problem or sending tubes, instructions or batteries is either a ‘lifesaver’ or an added bonus from our very grateful patients”.

What makes it all worthwhile is the response from their patients who are over the moon with the service they are getting. Their messages of thanks include: Thank you so much for calling, showing that you care and spending so much time with me on phone”. 

Faye also appeared on BBC Radio Surrey’s morning breakfast show discussing communication issues for those with hearing impairments during lockdown and the new ways of working for the Audiology service. Listen by clicking here (interview at 1:47:10) please note this is an external website.
Find out more about the work of First Community Health and Care, part of the Surrey Heartlands partnership, at or follow them @1stchatter.

Technology Helping Surrey Care Home Residents Stay Connected

Care home residents and patients across Surrey are now able to keep in touch with friends and family, thanks to newly introduced video calling devices installed in care settings. Facebook Portal devices are now available in a number of care homes and hospital care settings, enabling residents to stay in regular contact with loved ones through the touch of a button.

The initiative is one of a number of measures being introduced by partners across Surrey to support the most vulnerable and socially isolated residents remain connected during COVID-19 isolation measures. The initiative aims to reduce feelings of isolation and offer emotional support by maintaining regular contact between residents and their family and friends, or connect residents with local volunteers.

Surrey was the first pilot site in the country to be selected by NHSX, the digital arm of NHS England, to take part in the scheme and learnings from the county will be used to roll out the project nationwide in the coming weeks. 50 Portal devices have been provided free of charge to care homes and hospital trusts by Facebook and NHSX, with support and training offered to staff to ensure successful implementation and connectivity to wifi networks. Infection control measures are also in place to maintain the high hygiene levels currently in place across care home settings when using the shared device.

Katherine Church, Joint Chief Digital Officer for Surrey County Council and Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System said: "Current social isolation measures pose a real challenge to the health and wellbeing of Surrey residents, especially those who can become socially isolated from friends and family.

"I’m delighted that Surrey has been selected as the first pilot site in the UK to roll out this fantastic initiative, and that we can now offer a solution to bring families closer together, offering support and companionship at a time when we need it more than ever.

"The Facebook Portal system allows residents and patients the opportunity to hold real-time, face to face conversations remotely from the comfort of their own space and I’m grateful to the many people across the Surrey system which helped launch this initiative’.

Greenbanks Care Home is just one of the local care homes which received the Portal device last week and whose residents are enjoying virtual time with their loved ones. Yasheen Rajan, Director of the home said: "Technology can be an incredible leveller between the young and old. One of our residents recently had a call using Facebook’s portal with his 3-year old great grandson. Neither of them had used the system before and it was wonderful to see how natural and au fait they both were conversing over the portal within a few seconds.   

"We see huge benefits in using the Facebook’s portal, especially with residents who have dementia. Our residents may not fully understand ‘the what’ effect Covid is having on the world but they can tell something is different and that can be unsettling. Being able to see and hear their relatives is incredibly comforting at this time".

The pilot scheme will see feedback gathered from participating care homes and hospitals and further devices distributed across Surrey care settings if deemed successful.

  document Portal update slides with photos and feedback from care home residents and patients. (7.15 MB)


Headley Court to serve as a temporary community hospital for Surrey Heartlands

Partners across Surrey are working together to plan and manage our response to the growing coronavirus pandemic. Part of this response has been to develop plans for an additional community-style hospital to deal with increasing patient numbers as this situation develops.

Headley Court will now re-open and serve as a temporary community hospital.

Senior Responsible Officer for Surrey Heartlands, Dr Claire Fuller, said:  “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all partners who are involved in getting this facility up and running as quickly as possible.  This represents a fantastic example of the cross-collaboration between public and private sector partners across Surrey, and the willingness of people to work together in the face of an unprecedented public health emergency.”

With a peak in numbers expected during April, a senior team has been scoping potential solutions in Surrey to provide additional capacity which could relieve pressure on our bigger, acute hospitals and community teams during the weeks and months ahead.

The facility, based in Leatherhead, will provide non-critical care to patients including:

  • step-down from acute hospitals
  • rehabilitation/convalescence
  • those receiving end of life care
  • patients who are recovering from Covid-19 who don’t require critical care or acute hospital care

A cross-partner team from across the NHS, Surrey County Council and the military is working hard to get the facility up and running quickly and we anticipate ward areas being ready to receive patients later this month.

Leader of Surrey County Council, and Chair of the Surrey Heartlands Partnership Tim Oliver said:  “The collaboration demonstrated through this project, and our wider response to the current situation, has been remarkable.  We will get through this together, thanks to the hard work of our frontline workers and the great willingness on the part of all our staff who are doing the most remarkable job in the most challenging conditions.”

Next week the multi-agency team will hand over the set-up and running of this facility to Epsom and St Helier Hospitals who will work with partners to ensure that it operational and staffed to support those needing community hospital care.

Chief Executive of the Trust, Daniel Elkeles said:  “At this difficult time for the NHS, it is important we all work together.  We are delighted to be taking on the set-up and running of this temporary community hospital.  It will mean that we can support both people in Surrey needing acute care in our hospitals and also provide the right setting for those who don’t need acute care but still need to be looked after in a hospital setting.”​

The Headley Court facility, which previously provided rehabilitation care to military personnel before it closed in September 2017, is already configured with ward space and other clinical areas making it ideal to be quickly converted for use as a community hospital.

Karen Thorburn, who has been leading this part of the project on behalf of the local NHS added:  “We would like to say a particular thank you to Tony Williamson of Angle Property, the current land owner of Headley Court, for his willingness to work with us on this project, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.”


3 April 2020

Hand sanitiser supplies shored up by #surreyheroes

4000 litres of hand sanitiser are being delivered to acute hospitals as well as GP practices across Surrey, thanks to the quick thinking of Guildford businessman David Lubbock.

There has been a national shortage of hand sanitiser since the outbreak of COVID-19 and it took no time at all for David, CEO of local business Solventis, to swing into action and start producing hand sanitiser to donate to front line local NHS services.

Solventis, a chemical and solvent supplier, based in Guildford, is experienced in supplying a key ingredient used to make hand sanitiser, however the company does not usually produce the final product. In response to huge demand, David contacted an experienced manufacturer, Cleenol, to start producing the hand sanitiser themselves. Each GP practice will receive 4 x 5L bottles and each hospital will receive 20 x 5L bottles.

Stepping up too is Paul Martin, CEO of Kelly’s Storage, Guildford who has offered to provide free deliveries to all GP practices and acute hospitals across Surrey and to solve any hand sanitiser storage issues.

Together, David, Paul and their staff are all doing their bit to support the NHS services in Surrey Heartlands and that’s why we think they are #surreyheroes.

pdf 200415 Hand Sanitiser Supplies Shored up by Surrey Heroes SyHeartCCG Apr 2020 (117 KB)

Surrey Heartlands CCG – four CCGs join forces as new commissioner of health and care services

Four clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Surrey have now joined together to create one new commissioning organisation across the area, known as Surrey Heartlands CCG.

Clinical Commissioning Groups are responsible for commissioning, or ‘buying’, healthcare services for their local population such as community, mental health and hospital services.

From 1 April 2020, NHS East Surrey, Guildford and Waverley, North West Surrey and Surrey Downs CCGs formally come together as a singular organisation and continue to build on the joint working across the area that has developed over the past 18 months.

The merger follows guidance set out in the NHS Long-Term Plan, published in January this year, which set the expectation for health and care organisations (i.e. hospitals, mental health and community services, GPs, the ambulance service, commissioners and local authorities) to work more collaboratively across local areas and to take more collective responsibility for improving the health of local populations. 

There will be no immediate impact on patients and the public following the merger, however service users will see some technical changes such as a new CCG name and branding, a move to one singular website and in time new external contact points. The organisation will be headed by the current Joint Accountable Officer of the four CCGs, Matthew Tait, and a single Executive Team.

Dr Charlotte Canniff, local GP and Clinical Chair of the new CCG, said: Our main priority is, and always will be, our patients and the health and wellbeing of our local population. We have already spent 18 months working closely and building links across the four CCGs and this is the next logical step in our journey.

In light of the current situation with COVID-19, now more than ever, the importance of working together as a system across the county is vital, and the formalisation of us coming together will continue to strengthen our work in these unprecedented times”.