Poem to celebrate NHS’s 75th birthday

On Wednesday 5 July, the NHS will celebrate its 75th anniversary and the Black Country NHS has created a special poem to mark the occasion.

The five-verse poem reflects on the staff that make up the NHS and deliver the best possible care, how the NHS has evolved over the years with technology and innovation and ends with a thank you to all NHS staff.

A video of staff, volunteers, and patients from across the Black Country reciting the poem has been created and can be viewed on YouTube here.

The video features Delroy Elliot, a member of the Willenhall Chart Adult Learning Support Group as well as a range of healthcare professionals including Alex Griffiths, a Clinical Support Worker and Student Nurse from Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, who was awarded a BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, Aaron Bertram Miller, a Nurse Associate Educator at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust (SWB) and Liz Corrigan, BEM and Queen’s Nurse who is the General Practice Nurse System Lead for the Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB).

It also features Mr Peter Cooke, Consultant Urological Surgeon at Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust who has been at the forefront of innovation in his field, particularly when it comes to robotic surgery, and a number of volunteers including John Winsper, a volunteer at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust who has more than five years’ service at the Trust and Bally Barquer, who has volunteered at SWB for over five years.

Mark Axcell, Chief Executive Officer for the NHS Black Country ICB, said:

“On 5 July, we will celebrate 75 years of the NHS, the very first universal healthcare system available and free to all at the point of delivery, which is a fantastic achievement.

“This special anniversary provides the perfect opportunity to look back on how far we’ve come in healthcare, and the dedication and camaraderie of the people behind it who make it all possible.

“The poem is a reflection of the brilliant people that make up the NHS in the Black Country - ordinary, yet extraordinary people, who continue to go above and beyond for us and our loved ones every day - and we’re delighted to share these heartfelt words for everyone to hear ahead of the birthday celebrations next week.”

An update on Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust (DIHC)

Dear all

We wanted to write to you and provide an update on Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust (DIHC).

DIHC was created in April 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of developing and supporting primary care and to deliver integrated health and care for the Dudley population.  As an NHS Trust, we currently provide a range of services to Dudley people including primary medical services from High Oak and Chapel Street practices, the Dudley Access Hub, Dudley Talking Therapies, Primary Care Mental Health, School Health Nursing and a range of commissioning responsibilities including Continuing and Intermediate Healthcare.  We also employ a large number of staff in an enhanced primary care team to provide a range of support GP practices across Dudley.  

As you will be aware, there has been a live procurement process in place since 2017 led by health commissioners (the CCG and subsequently the ICB) and Dudley Council. The procurement aimed to award DIHC with a formal Integrated Care Provider contract, to tackle health inequalities and improve population health over a 10-year contract period by integrating primary care with community-based services.

This process has taken a significant amount of time, punctuated by the COVID–19 Pandemic, and faced a number of challenges.

As a result, NHS England asked Dudley place to pause and reflect on the approach to place based working and it was agreed by local partners to undertake a piece of work supported by external consultants (Capgemini), to develop a model of integrated health and care agreed by all parties across all sectors.  This work concluded in the summer of 2022 with Dudley place partners agreeing to a new approach to integrated care in Dudley with collaboration across Dudley partners.

In the light of this work, the validity of the original procurement was reviewed by the ICB and Council led Procurement Project Board, as the original scope of the procurement exercise had changed and the view that DIHC is too small to be a standalone NHS Trust.  It was therefore agreed that it was no longer appropriate to proceed with the procurement as originally planned and the process was drawn to a conclusion in November 2022.

Over the last few months, a process has been undertaken, to look at the opportunities to support primary care across the Black Country system, and to identify whether there is a strategic partner for DIHC within the Black Country system. Sadly, despite our best efforts, this has not been possible, and therefore there is now a process underway to look at the future of DIHC and the impact of any proposals on services and staff.

The great work that we do here in Dudley is recognised by all and there is a commitment to not lose any of the great achievements in Dudley alongside absolute certainty that all patient facing services will continue. We do not expect any of the recommendations to change the way that local people access their care.

A project group is overseeing several workstreams that are looking at the best way to continue to deliver services and build upon the excellent work that DIHC has undertaken. These groups will make recommendations to both DIHC and the Black Country ICB Boards on a way forward over the next few months.

DIHC will see a change in leadership in June as Matthew Hartland takes over the reins as Chief Executive Officer. We are keen to establish joint engagement meetings with you as key stakeholders as we make every effort to continue to keep you informed of progress and we will be in touch soon to find suitable times for these.

Should you have any queries, or you would like to arrange a meeting sooner to discuss any of the information within this communication, please do contact us via .

Best wishes

Mrs Stephanie Cartwright

Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust


Mr Mark Axcell

Chief Executive Officer

NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board

Order prescriptions ahead of the May bank holidays

With three bank holidays in May, people in the Black Country are being encouraged to plan ahead and order any repeat prescriptions they may need.

GP practices and pharmacies will have limited opening hours over the bank holiday weekends, making it more challenging for patients to access medicines at short notice.

Every bank holiday, NHS 111 sees an increase in people contacting it about repeat prescriptions. Over the recent Easter bank holiday weekend, a quarter of all 111 online sessions in the Midlands were to do with repeat prescriptions.

To avoid this and to ensure health is not put at any unnecessary risk, people are being asked to submit any repeat prescriptions that are due for renewal in advance of the bank holiday weekends, the first of which takes place on Monday 1 May.

Dr Ananta Dave, Chief Medical Officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “With three bank holidays in May, it’s never been more important for people to order any repeat prescriptions they may need.

“As GP practices are closed on bank holidays, it is important to make sure prescriptions are filled beforehand. Those who depend on daily medication could find themselves becoming very poorly if their supply runs out over a long weekend.

“It can take up for five days for repeat prescription orders to be processed, so plan ahead now and make sure you’re not caught short.

“The easiest way to order repeat prescriptions is by using GP online services, via the NHS App or through your GP practice website. If you do not have access to GP online services, you can phone your GP practice to order prescriptions.”

If people feel unwell over the bank holiday weekend, but it’s not life threatening, they can check their symptoms and access advice by using the NHS 111 service online or by calling NHS 111.

NHS 111 can help direct people to the most appropriate local health service if they aren’t sure where to go – this could include an out of hours GP, a pharmacy, a local NHS walk-in centre, or a hospital accident & emergency (A&E) department.

A number of local pharmacies will remain open over the bank holiday weekend and should be the first port of call for any minor illnesses. To find your nearest pharmacy, including opening times, visit the NHS website here.

The Doctor Will See You Now?

How can we work together to make a positive impact in Primary Care? Help shape the plans for the future.

What do you know about the local landscape and the different roles in primary care? Can you believe everything you read and hear from the news or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Come and join us to find out more about the plans for primary care in Dudley.

We know that since the Covid pandemic began the way we access primary care has changed.

The event will be held on Wednesday 14 June 2023 at 16:30pm to 19:00pm. 

16:30pm to 17:00pm - Buffet and Signing in

17:00pm to 17:05pm - Welcome and Introductions

17:05pm to 17:20pm - Setting the Scene - Dr Ruth Edwards

17:20pm to 17:40pm - Local Context - Dr Gillian Love

17:40pm to 18:10pm - Activity 1

18:10pm to 18:40pm - Activity 2

18:40pm to 18:55pm - Feedback and Next Steps

18:55pm to 19:00pm -Close

Join local GPs Dr Ruth Edwards and Dr Gillian Love and hear about the challenges and opportunities in primary care.

We would love for you to help contribute towards how we can work better together and influence positive change locally for our own health and local communities.

The session will be relaxed and friendly with a bite to eat and a warm drink. See you there!

Reserve you spot here. 

Spring booster jab roll out to start

Eligible people in the Black Country are being invited to come forward for a spring COVID-19 booster vaccination.

Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the latest phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme has now started, with care home residents first in line to receive a spring booster dose.

The offer will then be opened up to the remaining eligible groups, including:

  • People aged 75 and over (by 30 June 2023)
  • Those aged five or over (by 1 April 2023) who have a weakened immune system.

Those eligible for a spring booster will be contacted by the NHS by letter, text message or via the NHS App. Appointments can be booked via the National Booking System or NHS App, with first appointments available from Monday 17 April.

The NHS will prioritise those whose clinical need is greatest, as it has throughout the vaccination programme, starting with those who have had a bigger gap since their last dose. People who are eligible for a vaccine should make sure appointments take place at least three months after their last dose.

Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “Although life has gone back to normal for most people, COVID-19 is still with us and continues to be more serious in older people and in people with certain underlying health conditions.

“Booster doses are safe, effective, and help to top up your protection against serious illness from the virus.

“So, I would urge anyone who is eligible for a spring booster to book their appointment as soon as they can.”

Spring booster appointments will be available until 30 June. COVID-19 vaccinations, including first and second doses, for everyone who was aged 5 on or before 31 August 2022 will also end after on this date, following recent advice from the JCVI. After 30 June, only people at higher risk will be invited for future vaccinations.

Sally Roberts, added: “The COVID-19 vaccine has saved countless lives, helped thousands of people to stay out of hospital, and made it safer for us to live with the virus without fear or restrictions.

“We encourage anyone eligible who has had just one COVID-19 vaccination, or not had one at all, to come forward for their vaccine as soon as possible before the offer ends in June.”

First and second COVID-19 vaccines can still be booked via the National Booking System or by calling 119.

For more information on spring boosters, please visit the NHS website here.