Stigma: an unmet public health priority in COPD

A group of researchers in Manchester and Watford (UK) published an important article on the negative impact of stigmatisation often suffered by people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

The article reminds us that as many of 1-in-5 people with COPD have never smoked tobacco. COPD is in fact multi-factorial in its cause, while acknowledging that smoking is the biggest avoidable risk factor.

The use of outdated and derogatory terms when referring to patients who have COPD might also precipitate stigma. Even the choice of the term “rehabilitation”, describing one of the most effective treatments for these patients, was unfortunate, as it carries negative connotations. This term is also used in the recovery programme for patients getting over a heart procedure. There are very few other medical conditions where such labels are used in clinical practice and medical literature or are taught to health-care students when their judgement of patients is easily pliable.

“The presence of noticeable respiratory symptoms that are considered by the public to signify a communicable disease, such as cough, expectoration, and wheeze, undoubtedly adds to the problem.”

“This issue is given a whole new dimension in a post-COVID world, where displaying respiratory symptoms in public more often attracts negative attention from others.”

“For example, other passengers on a bus or train might choose to move away from a person with COPD, and while one can empathise with this behaviour to an extent, it reinforces the belief among people with COPD that they are social outcasts.”

This stigmatisation and bias also has measurable impacts. The authors describe how bias against patients with COPD might also explain why COPD research remains under-funded compared with other conditions that are less stigmatised.

For example, in 2019, COPD received 96% less funding than cancer from the National Institutes of Health (USA), despite accounting for 64% more lost disability-adjusted life-years.

The article explores several ways in which the public and our doctors could reduce stigmatisation and bias, such as:

Aseptika’s comment:

We fully support the changes suggested. Starting with rebranding the successful and evidence-based programmes which help people living with COPD get well again after a period of ill health. If we renamed these programmes as “Pulmonary Recovery” perhaps more patients might attend.

As our part, our programme is called Active+me REMOTE Pulmonary Recovery. The name signifies that this is a patient-led process in which we as patients become activated as expert patients and we increase our levels of physical activity. The term “REMOTE” is used to signify that this can be used alongside, in addition to, or instead of in-person group-based classes, without having to travel to them. Finally, it is about recovery and not rehabilitation, which removes the negative connotations associated with the term “rehabilitation or rehab”.

Aseptika’s products are designed for patients by patients, with expert clinical guidance, clinical assessment and certification as a medical device by the regulatory authorities and developed in line with the new Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) developed by the UK’s NHS and National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Original article was written by Alexander G Mathioudakis, Sachin Ananth and Jørgen Vestbo, from the Division of Infection, Immunity and Respiratory Medicine, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, M23 9LT, UK (AGM, JV); The North West Lung Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK (AGM, JV); and West Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust, Watford, UK.

The full article can be found at: Lancet Respir Med 2021 Published Online June 28, 2021 S2213-2600(21)00316-7

Spirometer FVC


Watch this video to get started!

To get you started with your tablet and spirometer device we have made this helpful video which takes you through the process step-by-step, from checking the contents of your box, to taking your first reading.

We recommend you watch through the entire video first, before following any steps yourself. You can always refer to your A3 quick start guide for a simple refresher, so don’t worry about memorising everything!




Remote Care Support for Older People and the Most Vulnerable using Activ8rlives App

The UK has announced that older people (over 70 years of age) and the most vulnerable may soon need to self-isolate for up to four months. 

UK Company Aseptika is offering its Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App free-of-charge for families to provide remote support for older family members that have to self-isolate, which is also available via the Activ8rlives web portal (

The process of requesting remote support from a family member starts by Registering for a free account via Activ8rlives online. Once Registered you then send a request to your family member via the Activ8rlives web portal by selecting the option on the “Caring” tab asking them to become your Remote Carer. The Carer accepts the invitation, joins Activ8rlives free-of-charge and then accepts your request and you are both linked. You can stop sharing your data with your Remote Carer at any time.

If you are already a user of the Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App and want to care remotely for older family members, an hour spent downloading the Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App (iOS, Android and Kindle Fire) onto their smartphone or tablet and teaching them how to enter vital signs information, such as symptoms, blood oxygen, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and weight, could make all the difference in the coming months as medical care becomes limited and rationed.

If a parent or older person already has medical monitors at home, even if they are not the Activ8rlives models, data can still be entered manually via the Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App. A Carer can remotely support up to 10 other users. No purchase is necessary and there is no charge for private use by families.

Instructions demonstrating how set-up remote monitoring is on the front page of the Company’s website.

Activ8rlives is a Cloud-based solution powered by UKCloud, the premier provider of healthcare cloud services in the UK. Data in Activ8rlives is held only in England and never leaves the UK. Managed under the strictest standards of privacy, Activ8rlives complies fully with GDPR and NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit. Activ8rlives is already used to providing services to NHS patients. UKCloud has generously provided extra cloud computing server capacity free-of-charge for the Activ8rlives solution during these unprecedented times to support unlimited capacity.

Kevin Auton, Managing Director of Aseptika advised: “We are expecting the workload on our technical support teams to increase significantly. If Remote Caring is something that you wish to get in place within your family or friendship group, we recommend that you do this as soon as possible before further lock-down strategies are announced.”

Cleveland Henry, Director of Cloud at UKCloud Health said: ‘’Our customers and partners can depend on UKCloud Health to deliver the service, capacity and assurances that will help them through this uncertain and unpredictable time. UKCloud Health are delighted to be supporting this initiative from Aseptika in our nations time of crisis.’’

The staff at Activ8rlives and UK Cloud are expecting to become infected with COVID-19 just like the rest of the population, but we have plans in place to maintain support and to continue our Customer Support, 7-days-a-week by email and phone throughout. UKCloud Health confirmed their BCP readiness last week.

Aseptika is offering its Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App free-of-charge for families to provide remote support for older family members that have to self-isolate, which is also available via the Activ8rlives web portal (

– End –

Further information:

Activ8rlives,, Asthma+me and Active+me are trademarks of Aseptika Ltd.

Customer Support Line: 01480 352 821 between 09:00 – 18:00 7-days-a-week

Email Support:

For further details, please contact Jessica Auton on +44 (0)1480 352 821 or email

Aseptika Ltd

Aseptika Ltd began developing Activ8rlives in 2010 and is currently developing its fourth generation of integrated systems, which can be used by consumers and their healthcare service providers using a wide range of platforms or devices to better enable effective and easy self-monitoring. Incorporating sensors and monitors ranging from consumer accessories to in vitro diagnostics (IVDs). Our focus is: respiratory and cardiovascular disease, paediatric asthma, cancer, promoting physical activity and weight management. Aseptika Limited has been certified by BSI to ISO 13485:2016 under certificate number MD691414.

UKCloud Health

UKCloud Health is a secure, government-assured, cost effective and UK sovereign cloud service. Our easy to use platform offers an open, collaborative environment to help enhance the way you and your Healthcare colleagues work. UKCloud, together with its UKCloud Health and UKCloudX divisions, supports hundreds of digital workloads for organisations such as Genomics England, Ministry of Justice, Capgemini and London Business School amongst others.

UKCloud Health. We power Healthcare communities.Additional information about UKCloud Health can be found at or on Twitter at @ukcloudhealth 

Media Contact
Ellie Robson-Frisby, Head of Marketing
E:   M: 07775 538135

(V2.0) Final

Maggie’s Story

Asthma⁺me − bringing paediatric asthma under control

Northamptonshire County Scouts World-Walk Adventure






In a World’s first for the Scouting movement, groups of Scouts walked in teams of 10 to Nyeri in Kenya – to the grave of Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement – without leaving the County.

Nearly 400 young people in Northamptonshire County Scouts got the opportunity to use the Activ8rlives BuddyBand2 waterproof activity tracker to monitor their steps as they walked from Northampton to Kenya (virtually) – over 8,000 miles.

Being active every day helps us to stay healthy, raises our mood and improves concentration at school, work or play. The virtual World-Walk Adventure was created by Activ8rlives to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of Scouts and Scout Leaders in the Northamptonshire area whilst having fun at the same time. Progress of the teams were plotted automatically on the spectacular route using Google Maps.

37 teams of 10 Scouts per team and their Scout Leaders participated in the World-Walk Adventure with a total of 370 participants, ranging in age from 83 to 10 years of age. The World-Walk Adventure was a total distance of 8,265 miles and after 9 months of walking 10 teams had completed the adventure. The competing Scouts acummulated 201,025 miles. The average steps per person was 9,643 a day, which is automatically tracked and recorded by the online system. This is a significant success and achievement in getting a range of people of varying sporting abilities to be active each day, upload their steps via smartphone or tablet to the World-Walk Adventure on Activ8rlives.

After 3 months of walking one team had covered an astounding 4,375 miles, making their daily average step count of 12,112 steps for each participant within that Scout group.

One Scout Leader commented:

“It’s a great way to get the Scouts active throughout the day, and not just on days when the Scout teams meet. By paying just a little more attention to how active they are, they can see the health benefits and develop healthy habits to keep for a lifetime. We’ve also used the virtual walk to view a little about the places of interest along the way”.

Northamptonshire County Scouts have been awarded a unique World-Walk Adventure Scouting Badge – making them the first to ever achieve this challenge award.

The World-Walk Adventure was not a race and the emphasis was on the team, being active every day, achieving group objectives through team-work and allowing everyone, irrespective of sporting ability, to be a success in this challenge. Each traveller was encouraged to “contribute” 10,000 steps every day during the World-Walk Adventure so that the group made good progress along the route. 10,000 steps equates to about 60-80 minutes of activity each day, and reaching this target was a strong motivator to being more active.

Some Scout Leaders provided a running commentary as to where they were, how far they had come, and the significance of the surrounding area to geography, history and its political history with the use of Google Maps. Some groups regularly talked to each other over Activ8rlives’ private group chat, and this encouragment and support provided motivational reminders to upload steps and keep active to enable the completion of the Adventure.

Ron Hasler one of Northamptonshire’s County Scouts Vice Presidents secured £10,000 of Lottery Funding to make this World-Walk Adventure happen. Each Scout wore an Activ8rlives BuddyBand2 waterproof activity tracker throughout the day and uploaded their step count using the Activ8rlives App on their Smartphone.

Ron (a Kings Scout) also separately raised money whilst taking part, which will go to support the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the Northamptonshire County. He presented a cheque for the money raised at this year’s AGM – received on behalf of young people taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award by Padraic and Amber.

Thank you to Ron and also Kevin and Jessica from Activ8rlives who supplied the BuddyBand2’ and supported the project and well done to everyone who took part!


What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean?

What is Blood Pressure?

When your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries in your brain and heart and other parts of your body, and this may lead to strokes, heart attacks or other serious conditions.

The equipment used for reading blood pressure is known as a sphygmomanometer and it is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg).  We rarely use mercury blood pressure monitors any longer because of the environmental and health issues of working with mercury but we still use the measurement of mmHg. The measurement can be undertaken with either an old-fashioned model, which is pumped up manually using a bulb on the end of a rubber hose or more commonly these days is the use of a digital device that inflates electronically by pressing a button.

Every blood pressure reading consists of two numbers or levels. They are shown as one number on top of the other. For example, a reading may be 120/80mmHg, and the blood pressure is ‘120 over 80’.

The top number is your Systolic blood pressure. This is the highest pressure when your heart beats and pushes the blood around your body.

The bottom one is your Diastolic blood pressure, which is the lowest pressure when your heart rests between beats.

WHO reports that globally, more than 1 in 5 adults have raised blood pressure – a condition that causes around half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease. Complications from hypertension account for 9.4 million deaths worldwide every year. The good news for high-income countries, such as the UK, widespread diagnosis and treatment with low-cost medication have led to a drop in the number of people with raised blood pressure, as well as the average blood pressure across populations leading to a reduction in deaths from heart disease (2).

Only one of the numbers has to be higher or lower than it should be to count as either high blood pressure or low blood pressure:

90 over 60 (90/60) or less: You may have low blood pressure.

More than 90 over 60 (90/60) and less than 120 over 80 (120/80): Your blood pressure reading is ideal and healthy.

More than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90 (120/80—140/90): You have a normal blood pressure reading but it is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it.

140 over 90 (140/90) or higher (over a number of weeks): You may have high blood pressure (hypertension) and should seek medical advice.

The blood pressure classification is published by the World Health Organization (WHO) (2).

Why does my blood pressure fluctuate throughout the day?

A person’s blood pressure can vary throughout the day and the reasons for this might include: having just undertaken strenuous exercise or even standing up for some people; the weather can affect our levels; as can stress, eating, drinking, waking or sleeping.

There is also a “white coat” factor when blood pressure is taken at your GP or Hospital, which might make the result higher than the ones you might take at home. What is most important is the day-to-day changes or longitudinal profile you observe, i.e. is your blood pressure tending towards better or worse values over time?

If in doubt about your blood pressure readings, contact 111 for advice or contact your GP healthcare team.


  1. NHS Choices. Accessed 20/06/17
  2. WHO, World Health Organisation. Accessed 20/06/17

Activity to Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Published in Positive Health PH Online: August 2017 Issue 240

One in three of us in the UK will develop cancer at some point in our lives.[1] Although it is predominantly a disease we associate with later life, cancer can strike at any age. As our life expectancy increases so will the incidence of cancer.[1] If current trends continue, Macmillan estimate that four million people will be living with or beyond cancer by 2030. Cancer is a major cause of disability and is the main cause of death nationally both for all age mortality and under 75 years premature mortality. With the most common cancers being breast, prostate, colorectal and lung cancer, which account for more than half of all new cases.

The good news is that over half of all cancers are potentially preventable, yet many of us remain unaware of the simple steps we can take to reduce the risks. Prevention of cancer is something many of us feel is beyond our control. But there is strong clinical evidence that smoking cessation, changing to a healthier diet, weight management and increased physical activity are the most important factors in reducing our risk of developing cancer.[3,4]

Marion Foreman (Class 4 Cancer Rehabilitation Trainer) works with Fiona Doto during one of three circuit sessions funded by HCCN in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. All physical activity counts towards their 10,000-daily step target using her BuddyBand2 waterproof activity tracker.

Move More

Physical activity has multiple benefits in prevention and it turns-out that it is also vitally important during the treatment for cancer and during recovery stages – so it is important for patients at all stages of the cancer care pathway.[5] The evidence base for the effectiveness of increased physical activity as it influences reoccurrence and health outcomes have been the focus of many clinical studies.

More recently the focus has shifted to explore the effectiveness of physical activity as part of the cancer care pathway. Macmillan commissioned a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCT) promoting physical activity during and beyond the treatment of cancer patients in 2010.[6]

Studies that were cited as evidence for specific programmes of physical activity interventions included:

  1. Oncologist-recommended exercise programmes with a comparison of those with cancer randomly referred to an exercise specialist. The Oncologist-led group showed significantly higher participation levels to exercise classes at week 5 and this had a direct impact on the source credibility and message framing on exercise intentions, behaviours and attitudes;[7]
  2. Motivational interviewing and other types of behavioural counselling in three RCT’s demonstrated the effectiveness of approaches to encourage increased physical activity measured by either self-assessed recording or minutes of activity measured by accelerometers;[5]
  3. Referral to weekly supervised gym sessions with home-based aerobic activities showed an increase from 44-minutes to 129-minutes per week for those enrolled on these sessions over the usual cancer care;[8]
  4. Walking, including pedometer programmes from five RCT’s showed clearly the combination of promotion of walking, mainly through counselling, improves daily step counts, particularly where a daily step goal is set.[9]

Despite this evidence, the promotion and advice to be physically active during and after treatment are not routinely being offered as a standard part of patient care in the UK.[10] The clear benefits of participation and the slow increase of physical activity during and after cancer treatment are:

The recommendation for people undergoing treatments is now to “avoid inactivity” as “even in cancer patients with existing disease or undergoing difficult treatments, is likely to be beneficial’.[2,4]

Professor Robert Thomas, in his book Lifestyle after Cancer[11] reports that “patients who exercise regularly are associated with a lower risk of their cancer returning and generally surviving longer.” He goes on to say Whichever exercise you decide on, the essential point is that it should not be just a passing fad, but a regular way of life”.

Get Active in Practice

The Hunts Community Cancer Network (HCCN) is a Cambridgeshire-based charity set-up because of this emerging evidence. It is run for people with cancer, by people with cancer and an army of volunteers and supporters. It aims to strengthen interventions along the cancer care pathways and to ensure that people living with and beyond cancer feel supported, are informed, have an awareness of the health benefits of physical activity and have an improved quality of life.

HCCN work with newly diagnosed adults or those recovering from cancer, in conjunction with nurses and other specialists delivering care. It provides qualified personal trainers from Forefront Fitness and uses the Activ8rlives healthcare technology – both local Cambridgeshire companies.

One of the HCCN initiatives is the Get Active programme, where personalised activity plans for those enrolling are designed after face-to-face consultation with a Cancer Exercise Specialist. The programmes include: education, home-based exercises, structured exercise classes or access to a local gym, circuit class and yoga.

HCCN provide its members with an Activ8rlives BuddyBand2 – a wrist-worn waterproof activity and sleep tracker, which enables them to monitor their daily activity levels, uploading data via the Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App, with the opportunity for remote coaching. Part of the Activ8rlives solution includes a dedicated online group called ‘Walking for Wellness’ that allows members to stay in touch and celebrate their achievements.

Susan Moore, Chairperson of HCCN said: “It takes more than just prescribing medicines and rehabilitation. Recovering from cancer can be a lonely process. By working together and through understanding our own journeys, we can help and teach other ways of coping with recovery and re-introducing a sense of joy, by having a bit of a laugh together too!”

Case Study: Cancer Changed My Life …

But Cancer did not take my life, it gave me a new one.[12] Uninvited and unwanted it changed the way my body looked and it changed the way I thought about everything.

But I met the most beautiful people that I would not have otherwise met, I joined Pilates and Yoga classes that I would not have otherwise joined, I was supported by HCCN and trialled the Activ8rlives BuddyBand2 and I love every day and every day is now a good day.

So, me and my Buddy go everywhere together, and along with my Personal Trainer to be always there, encourage and guide my appropriate activity levels and my thoughts towards maintaining an active and healthy life it’s a great combination.

Pre-cancer, I had for years always maintained an active lifestyle, this consisted of walking – usually 5 miles per day, also supplemented by frequent visits to the Lake District where I walked happily for up to 16 miles, up and over the fells.

But my activity levels, which I felt were good, were not at all measured or recorded.

The Activ8rlives BuddyBand2 is a waterproof activity and sleep tracker connected by Bluetooth to the free comprehensive Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App, that is a versatile and customisable app for self-care and recording vital health parameters [left]. Alison Crane, cancer survivor and self-professed lover of every active day, is a member of the HCCN Get Active programme [right].

Post-cancer, I struggled with motivation, concentration and the want to go forward.  My BuddyBand2 really helped me regain that motivation and to find the ‘new normal’ it was my constant companion. Buddy was my gentle reminder that if I had been inactive (sitting on my bum) for 60 mins to get up and get moving. Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App also measured and recorded my daily food diary, every step, calories burnt and distance travelled on my own Activ8rlives personal account. This I found extremely interesting, encouraging and motivational.

Assistance and advice has always been at hand in the form of a dedicated, personal and friendly helpline. In addition, I was blessed with the support from the most fabby Marion, my own personal understanding and supportive trainer and coach. She would regularly check my Activ8rlives account, communicate with me to see what I was up to, how I was doing and to offer any help, guidance and encouragement along the way.

Go Buddy – together we can do it! Cancer Survivor and lover of every active day!

Follow this link to read another case study.


  1. Office for National Statistics. Cancer Registration Statistics, England, 2011. 26 June 2013. [Accessed 07/06/2017]
  2. Macmillan Cancer Support. The Importance of Physical Activity for People Living with and Beyond Cancer: a concise evidence review. England, 2011. June 2012 MAC 13820.
  3. World Cancer Research Fund. Cancer preventability statistics, 2014. [Accessed 25/1/17]
  4. Cancer Research UK. Can cancer be prevented?[Accessed 07/06/2017]
  5. Macmillan Cancer Support. Interventions to Promote Physical Activity for People Living with and Beyond Cancer: evidence based guidance. England, 2010. June 2012 MAC 13821.
  6. Davies, N.J., et al. Lifestyle-Related Health Behaviour Change: Physical Activity and Diet: Theory and Evidence on Developing Lifestyle-related Behaviour Change Training for Cancer Clinicians. London, 2010.
  7. Jones, L.SW., et al. The effects of source credibility and message framing on exercise intentions, behaviours, and attitudes: An integration of the Elaboration Likelihood Model and Prospect Theory. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 33:179-96. 2003.
  8. Irwin, M.L. et al. Recruiting and retaining breast cancer survivors into a randomized controlled exercise trial: the Yale Exercise and Survivorship Study. Cancer 112(11 Suppl):2593-2606. 2008.
  9. Knols, R.H., et al. Physical activity interventions to improve daily walking activity in cancer survivors. BMC Cancer 10:406. 2010.
  10. Daley, A.J., et al. What advice are oncologists and surgeons in the United Kingdom giving to breast cancer patients about physical activity? International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity. 5.:46. 2008
  11. Thomas, R. Lifestyle after Cancer: The Facts. Learn how to live stronger for longer. Health Education Publications. 145-160. ISBN 978-0-9558212-4-0. 2011.
  12. Crane, A. Cancer changed my life. [Accessed 7/6/17]

7 Miles – in 7 Days – in 7 Countries

Julia raising money for Samaritans of Shrewsbury

One of the Activ8rlives regular walkers, has started an amazing Adventure and we are going to walk the route between her walks on Activ8rlives.

Julia started her adventure on 7th July 2017 to raise funds for Samaritans of Shrewsbury.

 The number 7 is significant as Julia wants to celebrate volunteering at the Samaritans of Shrewsbury for 17 years and the fact that she will be seventy later in the year. Richard, her very patient trip advisor and chauffeur, is walking with her. Richard has planned a route taking in seven countries on seven successive days, starting in France and finishing in Belgium.

 They will be walking seven miles a day, each walk in a different country. They are hoping to raise lots of money for a very special charity, which relies entirely on the generosity of the general public for its existence. At a time when mental health, poverty, loneliness, homelessness, addiction, self-harm and suicidal thoughts are much in evidence, our telephone lines are always busy day and night. Activ8rlives has been proud to support them on their adventure.

 If you feel moved to, you can make a donation via Just Giving. Julia and Richard are but £50 sort of reaching their £2,200 goal when I last looked. Their website on Just Giving is here:



DAY 1: The first day of our 7x7x7 and what a dream day. We set off on our 7 miles nice and early as temperatures here are in the thirties. Our walk along a disused railway line couldn’t have been easier – flat and mostly in shade. We clocked up 8.6 miles between Cluny and Taizé, a community of French monks who welcome young people (and today a couple of not so young’s!) of all faiths and none to join them from all over the world for periods of reflection and self-discovery. We are now in a small skiing resort in the Alps having been to a concert this evening given by a Greek guitarist friend. Tomorrow some Alpine walking.


DAY 2: Another early start, walking by 7.30 albeit in the wrong direction! The poles were invaluable as it was quite a challenging climb, with various obstacles along our path and an almighty drop if you were to lose your footing. We won’t win any prizes for our speed, 9.9 miles in over four hours was pretty slow but the views were very special. We’re now in Lichtenstein, planning tomorrow’s seven miles. One of the challenges is to find a circular walk or one where we can catch a local bus back to return us to the hotel.


DAY 3: Easy walking! You don’t often have the opportunity to walk from one end of a country to the other in a day but that’s just what we did today. Lichtenstein is bordered by Austria in the north and Switzerland in the south. Our walk was a very different experience from yesterday’s – mile after flat mile of beautiful views of the Alps to one side and the Rhine to the other. The 16-mile walk took us pretty well all day including a substantial stop for lunch in Vaduz, the capital. The sense of achievement made it all worthwhile and the excellent bus service – two buses an hour even on a Sunday – saved the day and delivered us back safely to our hotel. Austria tomorrow.


DAY 4: We drove to Austria for our next 7 miles, which my husband was determined wouldn’t turn into 16! In the event we did a gentle potter around the beautiful, medieval city of Feldkirch, had indulgent cakes and coffee and then attempted to walk them off with a stiff climb and walk around a large nature reserve overlooking the town. We clocked up just 7.3 miles before a drive to Ulm in Germany.


DAY 5: Today was one of those days when we thought we could walk for ever. The sun was shining but not too hot, lots of folk were out strolling, cycling, jogging and even skating and all seemed well with the world. In the event we only walked from Ulm, crossing the bridge at Thalfingen, and back to Ulm clocking up 9.1 miles. We were sad we couldn’t have walked further but knew the journey to Luxembourg would take us several hours. The Danube is as beautiful as it sounds and reminded us very much of home and the River Severn in Shrewsbury. Day 6 tomorrow – the week’s going much too quickly!


DAY 6: It was a walking poles and wet weather gear scramble this morning in some quite challenging and slippery terrain after a night of rain. But it was so worth the effort. We felt we were walking through a film set and that at any minute a dinosaur would loom out from one of the bizarre giant rock formations. The Mullerthal trail – Luxembourg’s little Switzerland – covers about 70k (one for the future perhaps?!). It’s a maze of very efficiently signed trails with a little minibus pottering around the scattered villages collecting and dropping off walkers and their gear. And what’s more the bus is free. Our trail fitted the bill perfectly – 7.5 miles – finishing at a perfectly located hotel for hot chocolate.


DAY 7: A three-pronged walk today as no more driving till tomorrow. We started the day at Sint Idesbald on the Belgian coast for a wander and a paddle along a vast expanse of sandy beach. Walks don’t get much better than that! We’ve spent the afternoon exploring Yprès with all its First World War connections. The poor BuddyBand has worked overtime, 28,255 steps, and the evening still to come. We’ve had a wonderful time, walked more than 70 miles in 7 days and raised lots of money for Samaritans of Shrewsbury. Thanks for your terrific support.


BACK HOME: We got back to Shropshire late last night – our only hold-up in the whole 2,000-mile journey was on the M25. But it was a truly wonderful trip, beautiful places, lovely people and something that we’ll still be talking about well into the future.


Thank you so much for supporting our mad adventure. It was doubly kind of you both when you haven’t even met us! I don’t know whether you know much about Samaritans. The organisation is not funded by government but there are, sadly, a lot of unhappy people who, for all sorts of reasons, need someone to listen and not judge their story. In fact, I’m on duty tonight 7-11 p.m. Thank goodness, it’s not an overnight shift. I’ll need to catch up on a bit of sleep before I do one of those!

As to my 70th Birthday party, I’m actually a bit of a party pooper but I daresay we’ll celebrate my 70th birthday in December with our five children and five grandchildren. They’re quite enough of a party for me!

It was a very special holiday and lovely to have the support of so many people, some of whom, like you, we don’t even know. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it for a long time to come.

Thank you again and very best wishes, Julia

Digital Pioneers Pave the Way for Future NHS

The Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN) has announced 8 Digital Champions in the East of England Region as part of the launch of the National Co-Production Week 2017, celebrating collaboratively produced initiatives.

Earlier this week saw the launch of a vital series of projects to improve the use of digital technology in the NHS. The Digital Pioneers programme is one of a number of co-produced innovation programmes being driven by the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (Eastern AHSN), one of 15 AHSNs in England.

Describing the work, Elisabeth Buggins CBE, DLChair Eastern AHSN said:

“Projects like this are changing how we support patients now, and will help future-proof our health service. With increased ability to monitor patients’ health remotely, more reliable and accessible patient records, and improved efficiency for clinical processes, we will be able to step up standards in healthcare treatment. Increasing awareness of the technology available to us and making sure that we stay current is absolutely vital to our future success. Our NHS is the envy of the world, we need to keep it that way.”

An initial eight projects running across the East of England will reach over 500,000 patients, providing new, more efficient ways to treat, monitor and keep clinicians connected to patients. The projects aim to improve support for patients in key areas such as cardiac rehabilitation, e-prescribing, and assessment of stroke patients.

These projects form part of the region’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’ Plans (STPs), which set out how local health and care systems will meet the challenges of the future. Eastern AHSN are supporting delivery of the STP as trusted leaders to change care through use of innovations and improved knowledge.

Leaders of each project, known as ‘Digital Pioneers’ spent today at Microsoft’s UK training HQ in London, learning from international experts about the opportunities available to use existing technology better, as well as understand the potential for new technology in training. The exchange was facilitated by The Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG), a charity bringing together organisations from across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors with the purpose of learning from one another and finding solutions together.

This is the first of four similar events taking place throughout the next year which will provide the Pioneers with the latest skills and thinking to help take forward their specific projects in the most successful way.

Digital Pioneer, Daniel Gammons from Huntingdonshire District Council said:

“We are excited to be part of helping cardiac patients in Cambridgeshire take the first steps towards digitally supported self-care. We hope that our project will shine a light on what is possible using the latest technology, and help encourage more co-produced digital projects in the health sector to get off the ground.”

The eight projects are:

1. Cardiac Rehab+ (Cambridgeshire)

Huntingdonshire District Council will develop and run an eight-week educational programme for 130 patients who have experienced cardiac failure. Participants will learn how to use ‘Activ8rlives’ (A8) self-care technology to measure and record symptom scores, medication diaries and vital signs. This will work alongside the existing ‘Active Lifestyles’ exercise programme to support their recovery. A follow on support group will also be set up to ensure that patients have an ongoing network to rely on for help, advice and moral support.

Digital Pioneer – Daniel Gammons, Sports Development Officer (Health Inequalities), Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC).

2. e-Prescribing (Essex)

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals are launching an electronic prescribing and medicines administration system (EPMA).

Digital Pioneer – Emily Harris, Prescribing Nurse lead, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals

3. Digital Community Clinicians (Norfolk)

The project at Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust will improve mobile working capabilities to help increase efficiency and enable real-time electronic record keeping. This will release valuable time, allowing doctors and nurses to see more patients.

Digital Pioneer – Emma Jackson, Clinical lead for mobile working, Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust

4. Digital Clinical Community (Norfolk)

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will establish a community of clinicians to assess the best way of introducing an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system in three acute trusts providing patients with secondary care.

Digital Pioneer – Tim Ford, Senior Project manager, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

5. Digital Inclusion for Children and Young People (Suffolk)

NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group is launching a digital inclusion programme which is co-produced with children and young people. The project team will tap into the knowledge of the tech savvy generation who will be the service users of the future.

Digital Pioneer – Kate Walker, Head of IT and Informatics, NHS West Suffolk CCG

6. Paramedic Assessment of Stroke Patients (Suffolk)

East of England Ambulance service and Ipswich Hospital are running a project to support paramedics in their assessment of stroke patients.

Digital Pioneer – Lynda Sibson, Telemedicine ManagerEast of England Stroke Telemedicine Stakeholder Partnership

7. Primary Care Digital Champion (Suffolk and north east Essex)

Anglian Community Enterprise will recruit a digital champion to take forward digital solutions that will create system efficiencies, improve care, and improve patient access for their 23,000 patients.

Digital Pioneer – Chris Adams-Salmon, Digital Champion, Anglian Community Enterprise

8. Digital Transformation (Hertfordshire and West Essex)

Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) is seeking to transform how technology is used to deliver services.

Digital Pioneer – Eddie Short, Continuous Improvement LeadHPFT


Activ8rlives says: We are delighted to support this innovative delivery of patient rehabiltiation, education and engagement (patient activation) through the Activ8rlives’ Self-Care platform and look forward to increasing the scale of this initiative throughout Huntingdonshire in partnership with HDC and EAHSN.