Dr Lucy Martin appointed as Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands

Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, John Crabtree OBE, the King’s representative for the county, has appointed Dr Lucy Martin, as a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands, representing Dudley.

Lucy, who is Joint Acting Medical Director at Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust and a GP partner at Eve Hill Medical Practice in Dudley will support the Lord-Lieutenant and the region in this voluntary role in several ways. This includes representation at citizenship ceremonies, supporting the armed forces of the Crown, encouraging charitable and voluntary work and local initiatives to benefit the community, as well as promoting and encouraging nominations for Honours and King's Awards for the County of the West Midlands.

The West Midlands Lieutenancy comprises Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton, and was established in 1974. The appointment of Lucy as a Deputy Lieutenant will bring her expertise and experience in the healthcare industry to the role and will enhance the work of the Lieutenancy in promoting and supporting Dudley and the West Midlands.

Commenting on her appointment, Dr Lucy Martin said:

"I am honoured to have been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands. I look forward to working to support and champion Dudley and our people."

For more information on the West Midlands Lieutenancy, visit West Midlands Lieutenancy | (

Reminder to cancel GP appointments that are no longer needed

People in the Black Country are being reminded to play their part and help the NHS by cancelling GP appointments if they are no longer needed.

New data shows that in January more than 36,000 appointments were recorded as “did not attend” – commonly referred to as DNAs. This is where a patient fails to attend an appointment and does not cancel so it can’t be rebooked by the practice.

The NHS has created a video with a local GP, Dr Virinder Rai, to highlight the importance of letting your GP practice know in advance if you’re unable to attend an appointment. You can watch the video on YouTube here.

In many practices, appointments can be cancelled by text or online, so there’s no need to phone.

Dr Rai said: “At a time when demand on NHS services is at an all-time high, it is very important that GP appointment slots are not going to waste.

“Every appointment at a GP practice is precious and so when booked appointments are unused and not cancelled, it has a considerable impact on practices, practice staff and the availability of appointments for other patients.

“It might not seem like a big deal to miss a 10-minute appointment, but the unintended consequences are that other patients who may really need care can’t access it when they need to and are being kept waiting longer.

“We understand that sometimes things can change but please do notify your practice as soon as possible if you’re unable to attend. This will allow them to allocate your appointment to someone else, helping to ensure more people have timely access to their GP or healthcare professional.

“Given the current pressures on the NHS, it’s important that people know their GP is still open and here for them, and I would encourage anyone who needs help to continue to come forward.

“However, please help us help you by choosing the correct service for you. For any minor illnesses, your local pharmacist should be your first port of call. As well as offering free expert advice on a wide range of health issues, pharmacists can help with dispensing medicines, repeat prescriptions, and help with choosing the correct over-the-counter medicine. And, if symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, they can signpost you to the right alternative NHS service.”

To find your local pharmacy, visit the NHS website here.

Additional support available at GP practices

Ahead of Social Prescribing Day, health chiefs are highlighting the wide range of different roles now available at GP practices in the Black Country.

Taking place on Thursday 9 March, Social Prescribing Day aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the impact social prescribing can have on people’s health and wellbeing.
Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs. It enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing.
Your GP practice may refer you to a social prescribing link worker who can connect you with local community organisations including bereavement groups, dementia cafes, art classes, debt management services, physical activity groups and fitness classes.
Those who could benefit from social prescribing schemes include people with one or more long-term conditions, those who need support with their mental health, vulnerable groups, people who are socially isolated, and those who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care.
The NHS has also created a video to highlight the role of social prescribing, which can be found on YouTube here.
Matt Brookes, a Social Prescribing Link Worker for Brierley Hill and Amblecote Primary Care Network, said: “Social prescribing link workers support people who may be bereaved or have lost a job or lost a sense of confidence. They may be struggling with an illness, having difficultly just finding their way in life or someone who is up against the pressures of life and doesn’t know how to cope.
“We work with the patient and together we find a way forward and identify steps to help process their lives and the way they work. It’s all patient led, and they aren’t told what to do. One of the greatest gifts I give to people is to say, it is ok to feel this way, you aren’t going mad or crazy. And the sense of peace that comes over them is great.
“The role is unique because it isn’t medicine led. It’s a holistic approach which looks at mind, body, and spirit, without trying to prescribe drugs. It encourages patients to become directly involved in their care planning and to take more control of their own health.”
In the Black Country, GP practices are working differently to offer more appointments for their patients. As well as social prescriber link workers, your local GP practice team may include nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, physician associates, and healthcare assistants, who work alongside GPs to ensure patients see the right person at the right time.
Sarb Basi, Director of Primary Care for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “With demand on primary care increasing, it’s important that we do things in a new way to help improve patients’ experience and access to GP services.
“Our multidisciplinary team approach means we have a range of highly skilled and qualified professionals working together with GPs to deliver high quality support for all our patients.
“If it is most appropriate for patients to see a doctor, they will still be offered an appointment with a GP. However, the GP isn’t always the best person to see. The new roles now available at practices means people may be offered an appointment with a different healthcare professional who will be able to help based on their needs.
“GP practices are working differently, but they are very much open and here for you.”
For more information on the different roles available at GP practices, visit the Black Country ICB website here.

Dudley Wood Surgery to Promote Prostate Cancer Awareness Through Live Music Event

Dudley Wood Surgery will be hosting a Prostate Cancer Awareness Event on 21st March 2023 which aims to promote early detection of the disease.

The initiative which has been supported by a host of local NHS organisations as well as Prostate Cancer UK, a UK-wide charity solely focused on beating the disease, will begin at 2 pm and be attended by the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Sue Greenaway.

The hour-long event provides attendees with the opportunity to hear music from renowned Jazz, Blues, and Gospel musician Bobby KP Woods. Bobby, who has a personal experience, will also be sharing his story and encouraging others to take action.

On the day, healthcare professionals will also be on hand. This includes Urology Specialist Nurses, who will discuss the process of checking for prostate cancer, along with Nurses from Prostate Cancer UK who will provide further information and direct people to appropriate risk checker tools.

Bobby KP Woods said:

"I want to share my story - We need to raise awareness about this disease and let men know that a quick and easy check-up can save their lives. By coming together, we can make a real difference.

“It’s no joke, I have a song which says `let’s do it in the name of love`, that’s what this is all about, helping men and giving them information that can keep them alive and well.”

According to Dr Gurmukh Kalsi, a GP at Dudley Wood Surgery:

"Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting men, but with early detection and treatment, the survival rate is high. This event is an excellent opportunity to educate the community about prostate cancer and to encourage men to take care of their health."

Dr Richard Bramble, Joint Acting Medical Director at Dudley Integrated Health and Care (DIHC), said:

“The purpose of DIHC is to connect with the people of Dudley, embrace our diversity and support them to live longer, healthier lives.

“DIHC has been working with surgeries across Dudley to promote early detection and early treatment of cancer and other diseases. It is great to see Dudley Wood Surgery taking this initiative to encourage men to think about prostate cancer detection.

“There are, sadly, real inequalities between men and women in cancer detection and survival, and we’d encourage all Dudley men to think about their health and come forward whenever they get invitations for health checks, annual reviews, and bowel cancer screening. A stitch in time often saves nine!”

This event is free to attend and open to all, but with a specific focus on men aged 45 and over. Dudley Wood Surgery will remain open on the day as normal with business as usual.

For further information, please contact .

Date: Tuesday 21st March 2023

Time: 2 pm

Where: Dudley Wood Surgery, 10 Quarry Road, Dudley DY2 0EF

Signs and symptoms of stroke

People in the Black Country are being reminded of the signs and symptoms of a stroke and the importance of seeking urgent treatment.

A stroke is a serious, life-threatening condition which occurs when blood supply is cut off to part of your brain.
Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly. If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death.
It is a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential. The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person, but usually begin suddenly. The most common symptoms can be easily remembered with the word FAST:
  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech- their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake. They may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Other symptoms can include weakness in one side, including hands, legs and feet, blurred vision or loss of sight in one or both eyes, sudden memory loss or confusion, or a sudden, severe headache.
Almost 3,000 people in the Black Country experience a stroke every year.
Dr Salma Reehana, a local GP in the Black Country, said: “Stroke is a life-threatening condition where urgent medical attention is absolutely vital, and time is of the essence.
“Early treatment not only saves lives but results in a greater chance of a better recovery, as well as a likely reduction in permanent disability from stroke. That’s why it’s important that people familiarise themselves with the signs and symptoms of a stroke and call 999 immediately if they notice any of these.
“Even if the symptoms go away, you or the person having a stroke should still go to hospital for an urgent assessment.”
Stroke can strike at any time and happen to anyone. The best way to help reduce the risk of stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Dr Reehana added: “The way we live can have a big impact on our risk of stroke. Knowing your blood pressure and living a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and healthy eating, are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk.
“Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, and diabetes can also increase the chances of having a stroke. So, if you have been diagnosed with a condition known to increase your risk, ensuring it is well controlled, such as taking any prescribed medication, is really important to help prevent a stroke.”
For more information on strokes, visit the NHS website here.
Mark’s Story
In 2016, Mark Harding visited his GP for a health check-up and was diagnosed with high cholesterol. A year later he suffered a stroke and now the 56-year-old is raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke to look out for.
Mark said: “A year before I had my stroke, I visited my GP for an annual health check and was advised that my cholesterol was too high. I was given a prescription for statins and advised to take one tablet a day to help lower my cholesterol. However, I made the decision not to get the prescription from the pharmacy and instead tried to manage it myself with my diet.
“The day before I was diagnosed with a stroke, I was at home on a Sunday and doing a bit of DIY. This involved crouching down and leaning into small spaces to access some pipes. It took longer than I thought and after I had finished, I stood up and felt an overwhelming feeling of nausea, severe dizziness and shooting pains down my right arm. I sat on the bed for a few minutes and the dizziness and nausea went, but my right arm felt numb and heavy. At the time I just thought I’d leant on it too long and thought that I had perhaps trapped a nerve from being positioned awkwardly for a long period of time.
“I remember going for a shower and I felt really funny. I couldn’t grab or hold the shampoo or shower gel bottles as I had a weakness in my arm and hand. It took me ages to get showered and dressed, but again I just put it down to being a bit stressed and tired from the DIY and went downstairs and had dinner. I had a banging headache and so took some paracetamol after I’d eaten and went to bed.
“When I woke up on the Monday morning, I still didn’t feel right. The pain and numbness in my arm was slightly worse and my headache was really bad too. Looking back, I knew something wasn’t right and I was really worried, but I still got myself ready and drove to work. I work in dispatch and have to sign for items to leave the warehouse, however that morning when I tried to write my name into a small signature box on a piece of paper, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hold my pen properly and I couldn’t position and co-ordinate my hand or arm either.
“I called my wife, and she said I should go to A&E as maybe I had a trapped a nerve. I went to Russell’s Hall Hospital, explained my symptoms and after being assessed for injury, a stroke assessment was carried out. I was quite quickly admitted to the stroke ward where I had numerous tests including blood tests, an ECG, and a CT scan. It was then confirmed that I’d had a stroke and a consultant came to see me to tell me that I had artery plaque build-up in my neck caused by cholesterol and would need surgery to remove it.
“The consultant advised that some of this plaque had detached and travelled in my bloodstream to my brain, causing the stroke. Surgery was scheduled for the following Monday, but due to the high risk of it happening again, I was in kept in hospital for a week under observation. I remained in hospital for two days following the surgery and was prescribed blood thinning medication and statins to take daily.
“It was a really worrying time, especially for my family and friends. I had four weeks off work and had to take it easy whilst I recovered. This meant I had to depend on others to help me with simple tasks like driving me around and carrying things for me, which wasn’t something I was comfortable with as I’m very independent. My children were also young at the time, and I wasn’t able to play with them or pick them up which was really difficult.
“Once I was home, I was asked to deliver my discharge information to my GP. At this appointment, my GP advised he had highlighted my high cholesterol the year before and prescribed medication to reduce it, however he could see that I had never picked up the prescription and taken the medication. He advised my stroke may not have occurred had I followed his advice. I also had to inform my siblings of my condition as it can be hereditary. Both my brother and sister saw their GP straight away and they were both diagnosed with the high cholesterol and given medication to manage it.
“I feel very lucky that my stroke was caught in time. Looking back, I knew some of the symptoms I was experiencing were a sign of a stroke, especially the numbness in the arm, but because I didn’t have all of them, I wasn’t 100 % sure. The only long-lasting effect of my stroke is my little finger on my right hand doesn’t function anymore and I have a four-inch scar on my neck, but I’m so grateful that I’m still here.
“I am fully recovered now and take my prescribed medication daily without fail. My advice to anyone who may be experiencing any stroke symptoms is to call 999 or go to the hospital straight away. Don’t ignore it, even if you don’t have all the symptoms, trust your gut instinct, and seek advice as soon as possible.
“And, if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, or any other condition that increases your risk of stroke, don’t ignore the advice of your GP. Had I followed my GPs advice in the first place, I may never have had a stroke and whilst I know I should never say never, by taking my medication as prescribed, I know I am now less at risk of another stroke in the future.”