Helping you to stay well

As a GP surgery we are here to provide our local community with medical advice and treatment. We can also signpost to practical assistance and support in many areas of daily life to enable you to stay healthy, happy and independent for longer. Whilst we are here to help you, when everyone comes to us for minor problems it overloads the system and everyone suffers from poor access. So we encourage our patients to seek self-help services first. Pharmacies are well placed to provide health advice, and eConsult has a detailed self help area. You can search for your symptoms and condition on Patient, and lots of local NHS services have open access ensuring there are no barriers to health and social care access.

The free NHS Health Check provides a basic type of one-off health MOT for healthy patients aged 40-74. Patients are invited by letter or text message to book with the health check nurse. We will check your blood pressure, height, weight and lifestyle details and check blood measurements for diabetes and raised cholesterol. When your blood test results are back we will speak to you over the phone with tailored advice about your health. 



Southampton has one of the lowest uptake of screening tests in the UK. The NHS Screening Programme in the UK invites all eligible patients for bowel, cervical, breast and abdominal aortic aneurism screening tests automatically if you are registered with a GP. It is important that we have up to date contact information for you including your postal address and mobile number, as this is how the screening programme obtains your name. 

Screening has been shown quite simply to save lives by finding cancers at an early stage or before anything has appeared as a symptom. It is a vital indicator of your health and will set your mind at rest, or enable you to start treatment quickly when your condition is far easier to treat.  In the case of cervical screening it may even prevent cancer from developing at all. We urge all our patients to take control of their health in this way and participate in these free screening checks. 

Screening is not perfect – it is possible for the tests to miss cancers, or have other associated risks. Screening is not the same as the tests a doctor may order when cancer is suspected or in the process of being diagnosed or treated. It is vital that you seek advice if you have any worrying symptoms, even if it appears shortly after a screening test when nothing abnormal was detected. 

There is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer because the blood PSA test is not a reliable enough indicator on its own. If you are over 50 and concerned about your prostate, please contact us and ask your doctor about this.

It is, of course, an individual’s choice whether or not to have screening. People can opt out if they do not wish to receive screening invitations from the NHS. 

The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and do not always make you feel ill. 

Screening for of bowel cancer can help to find it at an early stage, when you may not even have felt the test was necessary, and catching it this way will make it much easier to treat. Currently only 56% of the eligible population of Southampton making use of this free screening test to protect their health. 

How is the test done?

The test consists of a quick and easy home kit to collect a small sample of poo and send it back to a lab. It is examined for tiny amounts of blood present. Blood can either be a sign of bowel polyps (abnormal growths in the bowel), or bowel cancer. This short video explains what to do when you receive your kit in the post.

Who will be offered it?

Everyone aged 60 to 74 is automatically sent a bowel cancer screening kit every two years. If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for a kit by phoning the bowel cancer screening helpline on freephone 0800 707 60 60.

About 1 in 8 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer.  If picked up early, treatment is becoming more and more successful and there is a good chance of recovery. 

2020 statistics show that only 68.2% of women are taking up the offer of a breast screening test in Southampton meaning that nearly 10,000 women have missed their last breast check and are therefore at risk of having undetected cancer cells developing. If you are one of these women and would like to catch up on your missed check, please do contact the breast screening programme to arrange an appointment. 

If you are worried about breast cancer symptoms, such as a lump that doesn’t go away, or a breast looks visually look different to normal, do not wait for a screening test – get in touch. 

How is the test done?

Breast screening involves the use of a specialised x-ray called a mammogram that can detect tumours when they are too small to be otherwise noticed. 

For more information on the screening process see the Patient website which includes short videos on how breast cancer is detected, the screening process, what a mammogram x-ray looks like and how to self-check for breast cancer signs.

Who will be offered it?

The risk of getting breast cancer is greater after your 50th birthday, so at this point you will be invited for a breast check every three years until age 73.

The cervical screening programme is unique in that it is not done to detect cancer growth.   The cells removed from the cervix are carefully examined for early changes which could potentially develop into cancer cells. You would then be offered some treatment to stop you getting cancer.

In recent years the number of cases of cervical cancer has fallen indicating the effectiveness of this screening programme. As a rough estimate, it is thought that each year over 4,000 women in the UK are prevented from developing cervical cancer due to screening. Almost all of the cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year will be in women who have not recently had a smear test at all.  For this reason we strongly recommend uptake of this screening test for your long term health as cervical cancer can be prevented from developing in the first place if your screen is up to date. 

How is the test done?

The cervical cells are removed from the neck of the womb with a little plastic brush by one of our experienced nurses on site. Your appointment will be for 15 minutes but the procedure itself takes only a few minutes. 

Patient offers helpful information on this screening test including what your test results will look like and what they mean.

Who will be offered it?

Your first invitation for a cervical smear is at age 25. After that, you will be invited for checks automatically every 3-4 years. Screening stops routinely at age 65 unless there are other factors involved, such as a recent abnormal test result.

This is not a cancer screening test, but a way of checking that there is no swelling in the aorta. This is the major blood vessel that comes out of your heart full of fresh, oxygenated blood, and runs straight down to your lower body through your abdomen. A bulge in this major vessel could be extremely serious if it is not spotted early, due to its potential to eventually rupture. When this happens it is an acute medical emergency as the aorta bursting is likely to lead to fatal internal bleeding very quickly.

Men over the age of 65 are most at risk of these aneurysms.  Regularly checking this group of people has been shown to help spot a swelling early enough that it can be treated with preventative surgery to stop it bursting. A large aneurysm fortunately is rare but it is important to know about them early in order to carefully monitor. Your chance of having an abdominal aortic aneurysm is greater if you have a family history, if you have ever been a smoker, or if you have high blood pressure. 

In Southampton, over 8 in 10 people who have a burst abdominal aortic aneurysm do not survive, and a screening test can at least halve the risk of dying from it. We would strongly encourage you to take this opportunity to take a quick and painless peek into your inner tubing!

How is the test done?

The test is a simple and quick ultrasound done by a specialist team at several places around Southampton including GP surgeries and University Hospital Southampton. You will be notified of current choice of local venues when you book. 

Who will be offered it?

You will receive an invitation to make an ultrasound appointment that suits you soon after your 65th birthday. 

We offer the full routine schedule of baby and child vaccines, and you will be invited automatically for flu and coronavirus vaccinations when you are eligible. It is vital that we have correct, up to date contact information for you so that you are able to receive these invitations. Information about vaccines is often sent out via text message rather than post. 



Keeping your body in good shape is a key indicator of a better quality of life. To calculate whether your weight falls into a healthy range, you can use a BMI calculator.

As GPs we use this tool to calculate whether you may benefit from weight loss.  BMI is a far from accurate measurement of amount of body fat, but is more a rough guide to describe the overall health of a person, as having a high BMI leads to a higher chance of type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. 

We know weight loss is very hard – we will not heap blame on you or tell you to simply have more will power. Research has shown that successful, sustained weight loss is almost entirely about forming life-long habits over healthier food choices, such as filling your shopping basket with single ingredient foods.  Feeling like a failure, frustrated and fed up that weight loss is difficult or won’t last will be counter-productive and may lead to a cycle of restriction and binge eating. 

If you have tried and failed by yourself to shed some excess weight, it can help to have some friendly and supportive input. You can find your local weight loss support group from over 200 locally by typing your postcode into this service search.

The Weigh Ahead is our local specialist weight management service for patients with a referral from a GP. This service provides a range of therapies and educational content and is also the route to gastric bypass if appropriate. Eligibility criteria are strict, including a BMI of over 40, or over 35 with significant other illnesses such as diabetes as well as blood tests. Patients must also have first tried other weight loss measures for a period of two or more years.

In Southampton, around 1 in 6 people smoke. Every patient who smokes will be offered help to stop.  Not smoking is the best thing you can do to protect your own health, and that of the people you live with, better than anything a doctor or nurse can do for you! No matter how long you’ve smoked for, quitting will improve your health straight away.  

To find free support to quit smoking check out these national NHS resources or local contacts Smoke Free Hampshire or Smoke Free Solutions Southampton. You can also talk to your local pharmacist for more support. They know it’s hard and are there to offer you the latest help to support you to stop, including Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Don’t quit quitting!

Did you know that any sort of physical activity will not only increase your mental wellbeing but also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, and general virus immunity? You might say that’s a weight off your chest! According to new research, regular exercise cuts the risk of dying from Covid-19 by more than a third. 

The guidelines on physical activity say to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity at least five days a week. ‘Moderately intense’ means, ‘get slightly out of breath’. Not everyone can manage this five days a week – including us! Even 10 minutes is a lot better than 0 minutes and will give you important health benefits. 

Physical activity can include walking or cycling to work or school, housework, or gardening. Actively playing with the kids or going out for a walk are easily incorporated into your weekly routine. Joining a local sports team or exercise classes will give you social benefits too. 

For a wealth of information, support and advice about weight loss, quitting smoking and exercise check out the Better Health website.

Current guidelines for safe limits of alcohol for both men and women are:

  • No more than 14 units of alcohol per week,
  • No more that 3 units a day,
  • At least 2 alcohol-free days a week.
  • Pregnant women or those trying to conceive should drink no alcohol at all. 

The easiest way to work out how many units of alcohol in a drink is to ditch the maths lesson and download an app such as Try Dry where you can enter the %abv (amount of alcohol per litre, labelled on the bottle) and how much consumed.

In a GP consultation many people struggle to recall how much they drink accurately. We find people are not generally trying to be deceptive but it is easy to not realise how much is being consumed. Be honest with yourself, and if you realise you may be drinking more than you think, keep a log on your phone, an app or a diary that records it for a week or two. If you think you may be drinking more than you should and are struggling to cut down, seek help. 

In your body the liver deals with the alcohol in your bloodstream, and it can get overloaded and unable to process the amount if there there is too much at once. If this happens regularly you at risk of developing serious health problems, such as fatty liver or cirrhosis, which is a permanent damage to the liver.

In Southampton, Change, Grow, Live, and No Limits for under 25’s, provide Southampton based alcohol support, and Inclusion covers the whole of the rest of Hampshire. There is also the national Drink Aware and self-help groups such as the AA. 

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