Author Archives: Jessica Noble

New NHS COVID-19 App launched

Residents of the Isle of Wight will today receive a link enabling them to download the new NHS COVID-19 App which it is hoped will help to ease lockdown restrictions.

Currently being tested and developed by NHSX, the app is designed to trace and track COVID-19 through identifying those who have the virus. 

However, this isn’t to be confused with the current NHS App, which offers a range of services including making appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions and offering advice related to COVID-19. 

So how does it work?

NHSX.HNS.UK have stated that the contact-tracing app will use Bluetooth to connect with other users and track the spread of the virus. 

Once downloaded, the app logs your distance between other users and sends out alerts if you come into significant contact with someone who is infected. 

Users who fall ill can choose to let the app notify the NHS so alerts can be sent out and the necessary advice can be issued. 

The Chief Executive of NHSX, Matthew Gould stated: “By launching the NHS COVID-19 app we can reduce transmission of the virus by alerting people who may have been exposed, so they can take action to protect themselves, the people they care about and the NHS.”https://twitter.com/imcdnzl/status/1257996111266144256

So what about data protection? 

According to Gov.uk, data privacy is a top priority, with National Cyber Security Center involved in the app’s development. 

All data will be anonymous and the only personal information required is the first half of your postcode. 

The use of the app is voluntary and users can delete the app at any time. 

According to NHSX.NHS.UK: “Data will only ever be used for NHS care, management, evaluation and research.”

“This ground-breaking technology, combined with our heroic frontline health and social care staff, and both a nationwide contact tracing testing programme will ensure that we remain in the best position to move toward easing the lockdown,” Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said.

It’s unclear when the app will be made available to the rest of the UK.

To find out more about the NHS COVID-19 App visit the NHS COVID-19 App page.

(Image credit: Pexels)

The effect of COVID-19 on the deaf and hearing impaired

The government is currently facing a lawsuit, following a lack of support for the British deaf community.

Since the lockdown started the Government have been holding daily briefings, broadcasted online and on television, designed to keep the country informed on the current situation.

Yet, the UK’s deaf and hearing-impaired community have criticised the Government for failing to provide sign language interpreters during the broadcasts.

The Government responded stating that the BBC will provide BSL interpreters for broadcasts.

News 24 Channel currently have an interpreter, alongside many other news companies in other countries, but it’s the BBC’s lack of interpreters that has caught the community’s attention.

During PM Boris Johnson’s broadcast on Monday morning, no interpreter was present on the BBC, contradicting the Government’s statement.

What started as comments on Twitter have escalated into legal action taken against the government.

Members of the hearing loss community have been left feeling unsupported during this time due to the lack of interpreters.

Many appointments for tests, hearing aid fittings and routine check-ups have been cancelled, leaving some with no hearing aids at all.

Not only this, but members of the deaf community have taken to social media to express their struggles against the use of protective masks in hospitals.

Whilst they prove useful for protection against the virus, they prove difficult for individuals that rely on lip-reading for communication.

Some have been suggesting adjustments that could be made to resolve this communication barrier. For example, adjusting the design of the masks to make the lips visible.

However, there is no indication, nor conformation, that these changes will happen.

BSL are currently raising money to cover the cost if the case is lost and there are online petitions to make sure all broadcasts have interpreters present.

If you are a member of the hearing impaired, or deaf community and are feeling unsupported and worried, there are many sites available to help including BSL Zone for adults and NDCS for children.

(Image source: Istockphotos royalty free images)

Calls in a crisis – the difference between adults and children.

According to WHO.int, with every 40 seconds that go by a person takes their own life. This totals around 800,000 people around the world every year.

With the growing concern surrounding COVID-19’s outbreak, it’s expected that the number of calls to organisations, such as Childline and the Samaritans will increase.

This may not be the case.

Recent reports have suggested that Childline has seen an increase of calls and the Samaritans have seen a decrease. Why is this?

Childline is aimed at helping young people in their times of need. Accessible through the web, the site offers children and young people the opportunity to chat with counsellors via phone or chat-room messaging.

The NCPCC has released a report stating that there is a growing number of children contacting the organisation due to the impact of COVID-19.

According to the report, 913 counselling sessions took place, with children concerned about the Coronavirus outbreak.

The reasoning for this sudden increase is yet to be determined. It’s speculated that it may be linked to the increased time spent at home and the disruption to their everyday routines causing increased anxiety.

Yet the Samaritans appear to be receiving fewer calls than expected.

The Samaritans is one of the UK’s leading helplines for those struggling in a crisis. Their vision is that fewer people will die from suicide.

On average, they answer more than 5 million calls each year. That’s roughly one call every 6 seconds.

Speaking to a Samaritans listener, more calls were expected due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but this is yet to be seen.

‘Personally I would have expected an increase [in calls], but interestingly we’ve had either the same number or, more often, fewer calls since COVID-19. Our branch director also noted a huge drop in calls relating to suicide or suicidal feelings.’

A local Samaritans listener, Leatherhead branch

It’s suggested that this change in reaching out could be due to people having more time to write emails at home or that people are more focused on COVID-19 than their own mental health.

‘In terms of the content of calls there are a high percentage that are discussing serious worries about COVID-19. Especially for vulnerable people like the disabled, the older generation and also prisoners. All these groups tend to also be isolated.’

Their advice to anyone stuck at home requiring help is to reach out as soon as you need to.

Don’t suffer in silence – be positive.’

Youtube: Samaritans – Small Talk Saves Lives – Everyday small talk.

If you know anyone isolated alone or suffering from mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, reach out to them. Whether an adult or a child, everyone needs to talk.

There are many organisations and helplines availiable for anyone who needs to talk to someone. Both Childline and the Samaritans are free to contact.

Visit their websites for more details.

Updates to Mental Health services and procedures amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Mental health services are being made available to those that are vulnerable or in isolation. It comes after the Government has set out to make changes to the Mental Health Act. 


The impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on mental health has been recognised as being significant. Anxiety, stress and depression are set to run high amongst the vulnerable and self-isolating. 

The government has set out to ensure that there will be enough psychiatrists to see all incoming patients throughout the outbreak. According to HSJ.co.uk this will involve changing the number of “section 12” approved doctors carrying out the assessments from two to one, freeing up more staff to avoid shortages.  

Other changes have also involved altering the continuation of treatment, whereby doctors will no longer need to seek SOAD approval to continue a patient’s treatment against their will. 

These changes are said to be temporary. More information on the changes to the act can be found on the Rethink.org page.

The latest development in available services to those in isolation is that an organisation has been set up to support people suffering from being on lockdown. 

The Help Hub aims to support those that are currently in isolation and need to talk to qualified therapists. They will offer the option to have a 20 minute chat with a therapist and help people stay calm throughout the outbreak period. 

However, they are yet to be up and running. According to their website, they are due to be active on the 23rd of March 2020. 

Alternatively, organisations such as Mind.org.uk have set up pages dedicated to mental health advice related to the outbreak and isolation periods. Helplines are also available during dedicated hours. 

In addition to this, the NHS have outlined their approach to treating patients with mental health problems, autism and learning disabilities. They have outlined that there are six key areas of focus for these patients; 

  1. Patient engagement – consideration for identification, communication and discharge of the vulnerable groups
  2. Inpatient and community services – managing capacity, help-lines, medication supplies and arranging to stop all non-essential clinics
  3. Workforce – preparing to work with fewer staff working fewer hours and keeping the workplace safe 
  4. Digital – digital approaches to supporting patients and staff (for example telephone appointments)
  5. Legal – working with the Ministry of Justice and the Mental Health Act and dealing with patients who do not comply with treatment
  6. Regulatory – managing regulatory responsibilities

COVID-19 webinars are being held every week by chief executives of mental health trusts and other mental health providers alongside the NHS. 

More information can be found on the NHS website and updates will be announced accordingly. 

Saint Patrick’s day – What’s it all about?

With the unpredictable fate of this year’s St. Patrick’s day parades, it’s a good moment to reflect on past years and what the 17th of March really means to many people. 


The 17th of March appears in everyone’s calendars as St. Patrick’s Day Bank Holiday. Whether they celebrate or not it’s known to be a widespread celebration. Yet, many are unaware of the history behind the date, and why it’s so significant to many across the world. 

Everyone knows that St Patrick’s day is a traditional Irish celebration. There are usually big parades, dances, marches and music in many major cities across the UK, Ireland and The United States. The focus of these celebrations is Irish culture. But what people don’t know is that this is actually an anniversary for the death of Saint Patrick. 

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Credit: History.com – The patron Saint Patrick was not Irish, but instead British

So who was Saint Patrick?

According to History.com, Saint Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland who started out as a slave. It’s said that he was born in Roman Britain and kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish pirates. During this time, St. Patrick became hugely committed to Christianity, believing that the Irish should be Christians like him. 

Eventually Patrick broke free from enslavement and entered priesthood in France. After being ordained as a priest, he was sent to Ireland to spread Christianity in Ireland and support the Christian community. It’s believed that he died in circa 461 A.D.

His most recognisable work was the legend of St.Patrick where he used the now symbol of Ireland, the Shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. The three leaves represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

When was the first celebrated St. Patrick’s Day?

The first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day parade was in Florida, USA – not Ireland. It’s believed that it was held in 1601 in what is now St. Augustine and in a Spanish colony. Over a century after, in 1772, New York City saw homesick Irish soldiers march the streets to honour Saint Patrick. From there, the celebrations and marches only grew into what we know and see today. 

It’s unclear when the first celebrations were in England. According to numerous sources, there appeared to be debate over celebrating Saint Patrick alongside Saint George. However, parades have grown more prominent in the UK, with parades being held in London each year.

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Credit: Pintrest.com – Dublin is the number one place to be for St. Patrick’s Day

The first parade to be held in Ireland was in 1903, in Waterford. Since then, Dublin has been named as one of the best places to be on the 17th of March. Today, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin run over five days and nights, showcasing the best of Irish culture. However, due to the current health concerns, the traditional parades won’t be going ahead.

Dublin’s Saint Patrick Festival typically includes many different events and displays, such as walking tours of history, art displays and performances from live musicians. However, due to the growing health concern surrounding the Coronavirus, many of these events have been cancelled or postponed. Check their website for more details.