Raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of diseases like cancer is a key part of modern-day healthcare.
It’s an important way of getting people involved in managing their own health, so they know what to look for and are quickly able to alert their GP to any variations that might indicate a problem.
Having a basic knowledge of simple to remember health catchphrases, such as, ‘Had a cough that lasts for more than three weeks?’ or ‘Blood in your poo?’, can help GPs like me make a real difference in improving the health of Doncastrians.
It’s something I want to really take hold locally so people can recognise changes to their body, or lifestyle, and make a quick link to the health messages they are hopefully seeing and hearing as they go about daily life.
We all have a part to play in spreading the messages and keeping an eye on each other. Effective awareness-raising leads to early diagnosis and faster access to potentially curative treatment that could be the difference between life and death.
And it’s not just physical changes we all need to watch out for. Mental health is equally important, which is why I’m delighted to mention the ongoing success of another local awareness-raising campaign.
NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group and many other local organisations are working hard to make the borough a Dementia Friendly Community. Raising awareness of dementia in our towns and villages is crucial to making that happen. Earlier this year we collectively set ourselves a target of 3,000 new Dementia Friends in Doncaster by the end of 2014. The target has now been met, more than three months early, which is a tremendous achievement.
It’s the small things that count. Being aware of how you can help someone with dementia, such as if they need a bit of assistance with everyday tasks that we all take for granted, can make a real difference and show what a caring community we are. Find out more at www.dementiafriends.org.uk
Finally, staying with the awareness-raising theme, I would like to pay tribute to the fundraising achievements of some friends of mine. Last year my friend and colleague Dr Alastair Graves, who many readers will remember through his role as a local GP, died of a brain tumour. Since then his wife Janet and son Chris have been actively supporting Brain Tumour Research.
They have jointly raised over £6,000 – the proceeds of a Summer Ball organised by Janet, which I was pleased to attend, and Chris’ sponsored trek up Mount Kilimanjaro, which also benefited the Dig Deep water aid charity. Well done to them both.
Alastair was a caring man who was actively involved in the Sprotbrough community where he lived. It’s great to see his memory being kept alive.
* Dr Nick Tupper, Chairman, Doncaster clinical commissioning group