Healthwatch Milton Keynes News


2 December, 2021

Welcome to your fortnightly e-Bulletin from the Healthwatch Milton Keynes team. In this edition:

Hello from our CEO

Well, this one really is a packed issue! There are a wealth of consultations and surveys happening right now that seek to get to the heart of patient and public experience. Teenage mental health, radiotherapy,  gluten-free prescribing, fertility, and street crime to name just a few.

The Pharmacy Needs Survey is one consultation I’d like to draw your attention to. Particularly during the pandemic, our local pharmacies have been a lifeline for many and we rely on them more

than we realise. They really do tick so many boxes: remedies for migraines, chicken pox, flu, skin complaints, teething, fever, upset stomach, insomnia, indigestion, vaccinations, weight management, contraception… the list is literally endless.

But is your local pharmacy accessible? What could it improve on? What does it do particularly well? That’s what the Pharmacy Needs Assessment survey is designed to understand. It only takes a few minutes to complete, so please share widely amongst your networks and colleagues.

Finally, it’s your last call for our Health & Wellbeing Community event this Friday! We’re so excited to be joined by some wonderful local organisations who are gearing up to offer practical support and advice to patients and the public in MK. The Terence Higgins Trust, Diabetes UK, Parent and Carers’ Alliance, Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK and many more will all be with us between 10 – 4pm this Friday at the Trinity Centre, Fishermead.  Drop in and say hi!

Maxine Taffetani
CEO Healthwatch Milton Keynes

Your go-to guide to winter vaccinations

COVID boosters for anyone over 18

This week has been all about the Omicron variant of COVID and in response, the COVID booster programme is being extended. The NHS are working on implementing these changes: 

  • Anyone aged 18 – 39 is now eligible for a booster when the NHS calls them forward.
  • People over 16 with severely weakened immune systems are also eligible.
  • A booster dose will be offered from 3 months after the second (it’s currently from 6 months).
  • A second dose will also be given to all children aged 12 -15 who aren’t already eligible.

You can’t book your dose yet under these plans, but we will keep you updated. But if you’re eligible for a booster dose under the existing eligibility criteria, here’s where you can go to get your booster dose: 

Saxon Court,  502 Avebury Boulevard, MK9 3HS
Rainbow Pharmacy, Michael Young Building, The Open University MK7 6BB

You can check this week’s timings on the BLMK CCG website. 

The lowdown on flu

  • More of us are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill.
  • Getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses.
  • If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:

  • Are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2022);
  • Have certain health conditions;
  • Are pregnant
  • Are in long-stay residential care;
  • Receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick;
  • Live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis);
  • Frontline health or social care workers.

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:

  • Your GP surgery
  • A pharmacy offering the service
  • Your midwifery service if you’re pregnant
  • A hospital appointment

Find a pharmacy that offers the flu vaccine. 

If you’re not eligible for a free flu jab, but would still like protection from flu this winter, you can pay to have the jab at a pharmacy. The cost is usually around £15-20. Check with your local pharmacy for information and to book.  


Kooth launch male mental health workshops

If you work with young people then you’ll know first hand that supporting young men to look after their mental health and wellbeing is a priority. Kooth has developed a new young men’s mental health workshop for all education settings, youth and professional services.

The interactive workshop will:

  • Address the barriers and stigma that can prevent young men from speaking about their mental health.
  • Look at men in the public eye who have spoken out about their mental health to help normalise male discussions around mental health.
  • Feature group discussions around how we can make it easier for young men to talk about their mental health
  • The free, safe, and anonymous mental health support Kooth provides.

This workshop, along with all of Kooth’s other workshops are free and can be booked at your convenience to be delivered either face-to-face and virtually. If your school or organisation is interested, contact

Image credit: Juja Han, Unsplash

There’s a new episode of the BLMK podcast!

In this second episode, Felicity Cox, CEO Designate of the BLMK Integrated Care System, is joined by two special guests to discuss the pressures that our local health service comes under during winter and how we’re preparing.

Joining the podcast to discuss these issues are Dr Tayo Kufeji, local GP and Director of Clinical Transformation (MK), BLMK CCG as well as Kate Walker, Director of Adults’ Services at Bedford Borough Council.

This podcast is for anyone interested in the changes that are happening in health and social care, and how services are joining up to help people live long and healthy lives across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes.

So join the conversation, listen to the show, and share with your friends and family.

Image credit:  Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Single Family Homes: do you know someone in need?

Single Family Homes is an established supported housing initiative from the Salvation Army. The scheme supports clients between 16 and 25 years of age with a variety of medium to high support needs. They will potentially have some housing units available soon. If you have a family who you feel would benefit from support, please get in touch with Antje Schroeder, Specialist Support Worker at for a referral form and more information.

Help to get information cards onto every disability red cord in MK

Support the #redcordchallenge

Throughout December, can you help to support the Red Cord Challenge in Milton Keynes? Access in MK are running the campaign, with the aim of getting a red cord ‘information card’ onto each disability red cord in public toilets. The information cards are available from and are stocked in various community centres. Place an information card on any red cords that you see and raise awareness of accessibility issues for people living with a disability.

Access in MK are a new organisation that aims to not only improve local accessibility for all disabled people, but also to educate business and organisations on accessibility. Often these red cords are tucked away or high up out of reach – which prevents anyone with a disability actually being able to reach them. Red cords are crucial in disabled toilets for anyone who may have fallen or collapsed. You can find out more on their Facebook page. 

Waterhall and Kents Hill Care Homes: read our latest Enter and View reports

Our Enter and View programme of visits to residential care and nursing homes across Milton Keynes continues. We’ve just published reports on Waterhall and Kents Hill Care Home. We’re grateful to all the staff, residents and families who engage with us during these visits, who make our time there so valuable.

Our focus during these visits was to engage with residents, their relatives or carers, to explore their overall experience of living in Waterhall and Kents Hill Care Homes. We built a picture of their general experience, and their COVID-specific experiences and how the related restrictions impacted on their lives and on their care.

Read our findings and recommendations now. 

Events taking place near you (or online!) 

This Friday, 3 December, Healthwatch Milton Keynes presents:
Health & Wellbeing event, Trinity Centre

Are you looking for advice on health and social care services in MK? Join us for a drop in community event, where you’ll find practical support on the issues that matter, including:
  • BMI management
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Breast checking advice
  • Point of contact HIV testing
Where? Trinity Centre, Fishermead Blvd. Fishermead, MK6 2LA
When? Friday 3 December, 10:00 – 16:00.

No need to book – just drop by and say hi! Your safety, and that of our team, is of paramount importance so we’ll be ensuring social distancing and hand sanitizing, plus strongly recommending the use of face masks. We’ll also have some available at the venue.

Do you want to know more about the BLMK Integrated Care System (ICS)?

If you’re a professional working in health and social care services, you’ve probably heard about the merger of clinical commissioning teams across Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes. It’s likely that you’ll have questions about how this significant change will impact services and patients. To provide answers, the BLMK ICS team are holding a series of drop-in events. Dates and times are:

Tue 7 Dec 1 – 2pm
Growth: Working together to help build the economy and sustainable growth.

Wed 15 Dec 5 – 6pm
Reducing Inequalities: Promoting equalities in the health and wellbeing of our population.

To register to join any of these sessions, email . If you’ve not been able to get to any of the sessions over the last week, then you can catch up on what you’ve missed!

Be part of MK’s vision to become a Dementia-Friendly City

Dementia is set to rise in MK as our population ages. That’s why MK’s ambition to be the first dementia- friendly city is relevant now, more than ever. The vision is all about making Milton Keynes a good place to live for people with dementia and those who support them.

MK Council are hosting a Business and Community Group Workshop to help to shape the delivery action plan. The workshop will focus on how to make your organisation dementia friendly.

Where? Milton Keynes Professional Development Centre, Galley Hill, MK11 1PA
When? Tuesday 7 December 2.30 to 4.30pm (registration from 2.00pm.)

One person per organisation can attend. To book, email:

Do you know women who are unvaccinated and pregnant or breastfeeding? Join the webinar tonight, 2 December at 7pm

Tune into a COVID Q&A webinar session with midwives and learn more about why the COVID vaccine is so crucial to staying well. Find out more.  Join the team of midwives at 7pm, 2 December on this link:

Have your say

There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in shaping our health and social care in Milton Keynes. If you know of someone who has been affected by any of the healthcare issues featured here, then please share the links to these surveys. Every voice makes a difference. 

Image credit: National Cancer Institute, Unsplash

Pharmacy Needs Assessment: take part in the survey

Milton Keynes Council is running a pharmacy services survey that looks at health needs in Milton Keynes, the level and accessibility of pharmacy services available, and how these services can be maintained and developed in the future. Are there barriers to accessing care and advice? What could be improved?

Take part in the survey, share amongst colleagues, friends and family and help to shape how your local pharmacy operates in the future.

Complete the pharmacy services survey

Young people aged 13-25: what needs to change?

The current crisis in young people’s mental health and wellbeing is never far from the headlines. Many of us have seen the reality of this first hand, either personally or professionally. So how can we change things for our young people? Young Minds are the UK’s leading youth mental health charity. They want to make sure that every young person gets the mental health support they need, when they need it.  The biggest conversation around young people’s mental health needs to be led by the changes they want to see, and young people have the collective power to genuinely make a difference.
The survey asks:
  • What’s on your mind?
  • What’s been bothering you lately?
  • What are the big issues affecting your life and how you feel?
Share the survey with your family, friends, colleagues and all the young people in your life. The responses will help to make important changes for young people.
Take part in the Big Young People’s survey

Radiotherapy in MK is changing: help to shape what comes next

Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer and radiotherapy is often a key treatment for many patients. The way that radiotherapy is delivered in our area is changing. Plans are in the very early stages, but our NHS commissioners and NHS England are asking for your views to help shape what comes next. The experiences, preferences and views of patients, carers, the public and professionals are crucial to ensure that new radiotherapy services meet the needs of our community.  Please take a few minutes to complete a short survey and influence changes to radiotherapy services in MK. 

Complete the radiotherapy in MK survey

Image credit: Ethan Wilkinson on Unsplash

Kooth focus on male mental health: take the survey

In addition to their online interactive workshops, Kooth have launched a male mental health survey. All the feedback will influence and shape the services available to young men. Please share with your networks, community, colleagues, family and friends. There are two surveys, tailored to suit different age groups:



Image credit: Ethan Wilkinson on Unsplash

How safe do you feel on our streets?

The SaferMK Community Safety Survey 2021/22 allows residents, employees and visitors to provide feedback on anti-social behaviour and crime concerns across all of Milton Keynes.

The survey means that you can also have your say on the recommended priorities for the Community Safety Strategy for the next 3-5 years. The survey will close on 3 January 2022.

Complete the SaferMK survey

Image credit: Jakayla Toney, Unsplash

Fed up repeating your story every time you need health or social care?

A new Shared Health and Care Record (SHCR) is being rolled out across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. Completely confidential and secure, it’s designed to help registered health and social care professionals make better, safer decisions.

The information that they will be able to see includes:
•    Your name, date of birth, gender, address, telephone number, NHS number
•    The name of your GP Practice and GP
•    Medications, allergies, ongoing and historic conditions, immunisations and diagnoses
•    Test results, hospital referrals, admissions, discharges and clinics attended
•    Social and mental health information and care plans

To help with the roll out. BLMK ICS are running a survey so people have the opportunity to express their concerns or expectations, and ask questions.

You can also register your interest in being involved in the future development of the SHCR.

Find out more and take part in the survey

Image credit: Juan Encalada, Unsplash

Shake up of IVF and gluten-free prescribing: what do YOU think?

Earlier this year, our NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG) merged with those in Luton and Bedfordshire. Most of their healthcare policies about how services were delivered were the same. However, there are three key areas that need to become aligned, to ensure that all residents have access to the same care.
  • Fertility services – Make fertility services available to a broader group of residents, including those with specific protected characteristics who did not previously have access to the service. This will include a review of the number of cycles of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) available.
  • Aligning the policy on Milton Keynes Pharmacy First Minor Ailment Scheme. This service is currently only available in Milton Keynes.
  • Gluten-Free food prescribing. Patients in Luton currently only have access to bread and flour prescriptions.

It’s important that as many people as possible in Milton Keynes help to shape these new policies. Whether you are directly affected by the issues or not, the chances are you’ll know someone who might be in the future. Read the background information to the proposed changes.

Your thoughts and experiences will help the local NHS commissioning team to understand the health needs of our community.

This consultations runs until midnight on Tuesday 21 December 2021

Take part in the consultation now

We want to hear your experiences of local health and social care services so that we can work to improve them. The more feedback we receive, the more powerful our message becomes. Getting in touch with us is easy. Visit our website to find out how.

Share your story with us



Print Friendly