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Health warning over Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillar

We are aware of an increasing problem in the local area from oak processionary moth catrerpillars. These caterpillars are covered in tiny hairs that can cause severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Until recently, the moth was found only in mainland Europe, but in 2006 it was discovered on oak trees in Ealing and Richmond, in London. The caterpillars feed on oak leaves and produce silken nests on the trunks of affected trees. There is no natural predator. The hairs can cause symptoms if the caterpillars or their nests are touched, but they can also be carried on the wind. The most common symptoms are an unpleasant rash. Less common problems are sore throats, breathing difficulties or eye problems. Asthma UK has advised those with asthma always to remember to carry a reliever inhaler with them in case of an unexpected attack.

The caterpillars or their nests should not be touched. You should not attempt to remove them, but should report them to one of the addresses given below.

Who is affected by these caterpillars? The caterpillars’ hairs can affect anyone, but asthmatics in particular are at risk of having a severe attack. The hairs can also affect animals, including dogs, cats and horses, so people are also encouraged to keep their pets and livestock away from infested trees.

Why do these moths cause health problems? Health problems are most common when the caterpillar is in its last stages of development in late May and early June, before becoming a moth. This is because the caterpillars are covered with tiny hairs that contain a toxin (thaumetopoein or closely related compounds). If these hairs and toxins come into contact with the skin they can cause symptoms.

What sort of symptoms do they cause? If the hairs or toxins come into contact with the skin they can cause a very itchy skin rash. If they come into contact with the eyes they can cause itchy eyes. Can the symptoms be serious? People vary in their response - not everyone reacts to the caterpillar hairs. The most common problem is an itchy rash which is unpleasant but not dangerous.

What should I do if I develop these symptoms? The recommended treatment includes an oral antihistamine, such as cetirizine or loratadine. Speak to your chemist for advice. If the itching keeps you awake, a sedating antihistamine such as chlorphenamine (Piriton®) may help in addition. Topical steroid cream such as hydrocortisone can also be purchased from the chemist and this may soothe the rash further.  If your symptoms are not responding to this, ask for a telephone consultation with your GP. If you have any breathing difficulty, consider booking an appointment or A&E in extreme cases.

What should I do if I see a nest? Anyone who thinks they have found oak processionary caterpillars or their nests should not touch them or attempt to remove them, but should report their sightings to the Forestry Commission with its Tree Alert on-line pest reporting tool, giving as precise details as possible about the location.

Private Prescriptions 
Please be advised that prescriptions issued by a Private Consultant cannot be converted into NHS Prescriptions. You need to take your Private Presciption to a Chemist who will advise you of the charge. Even if this is high, we are not allowed by new NHS rules to issue them.

 

 

 

 

pad_and_penSuggestions & Complaints

Our aim is to provide the highest level of care for all our patients. We will always be willing to hear if there is any way that you think that we can improve the service we provide.

Making a Complaint
If you have any complaints or concerns about the service that you have received from the doctors or staff working for this practice please let us know. We hope that most problems can be sorted out easily and quickly, often at the time they arise and with the person concerned.

If your problem cannot be sorted out in this way and you wish to make a complaint, we would like you to let us know as soon as possible ideally within a matter of days or at most a few weeks – because this will enable us to establish what happened more easily. If it is not possible to do that, please let us have details of your complaint:

  • Within 6 months of the incident that caused the problem; or
  • Provided that is within 12 months of the incident.

Our Practice Manager will be pleased to deal with any complaint and will explain the procedure to you and make sure that your concerns are dealt with promptly. You can make your complaint:

  • In person or
  • In writing – some complaints may be easier to explain in writing, please give as much information as you can, then send your complaint to the practice for the attention of the Practice Manager as soon as possible.

What shall we do
Our complaints procedure is designed to make sure that we settle any complaints as quickly as possible. We shall acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days and aim to have looked into your complaint within 25 working days of the date when you raised it with us. We shall then be a position to offer you an explanation, or a meeting with the people involved.

When we look into your complaint, we shall aim to:

  • Find out what happened and what went wrong
  • Make it possible for you to discuss the problem with those concerned, if you would like this
  • Make sure you receive and apology, where appropriate
  • Identify what we can do to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again

At the end of the investigation your complaint will be discussed with you in detail, either in person or in writing.

Complaining on behalf of someone else
Please note that we keep strictly to the rules of medical confidentiality. If you are complaining on behalf of someone else, we have to know that you have his or her permission to do so. A note signed by the person concerned will be needed, unless they are incapable (because of illness) of providing this.

What you can do next We hope that if you have a problem you will use our practice complaints procedure. We believe that this will give us the best chance of putting right whatever has gone wrong and the opportunity to improve our practice.

However this does not affect your right to approach the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) if you feel you cannot raise your complaint with us or you are dissatisfied with the way we are dealing with your complaint. The Patient Advice and Liaison Service based at Surrey Downs CCG provide confidential advice and support, helping you to sort out any concerns you may have about the care we provide, guiding you through the different services available from the NHS. Telephone 01372 227300

If you remain dissatisfied with the responses to your complaint you have the right to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman who investigates complaints about the NHS in England.

You can call the Ombudsman’s Complaints Helpline on 0345 015 4033 or Textphone (Minicom): 0300 061 4298, or you can access their website at www.ombudsman.org.uk

Help us to get it right We constantly try to improve the service we offer. Please let us know when you think we have done something well or if you have any suggestions as to how we can do something better.

 
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