Category Archives: Health

Bloxwich Active Living Centre set to make a splash!

Active Living Centre keys being handed over to Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick (pic Walsall Council)
Active Living Centre keys being handed over to Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick (pic Walsall Council)

The eagerly awaited opening date for both Bloxwich and Oak Park Active Living Centres became reality this week when the keys for both centres were handed over by contractors.  This significant moment marked the beginning stages to the run-up of their opening on Tuesday 9 August.

The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)
The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)

The new multi-million pound centres, which each include a 25 metre swimming pool, teaching pool, six court sports hall, dance studio and cafe will be fitted out over the coming weeks with state of the art station fitness suites in time for their opening to the public. Oak Park is also able to offer two glass backed squash courts, sauna and a steam room.  The full size, floodlit artificial grass pitch at Oak Park will be replaced over the autumn.

The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)
The new Bloxwich Active Living Centre before completion (pic S. Williams)

Bloxwich East Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure and Culture said: “Opening these doors for the first time is very exciting.

“It is truly wonderful to be able to take possession of these buildings and brings us ever closer to realising the Council’s commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of residents by getting more people, more active, more often.

Bloxwich Carnival Committee used the old baths function hall for their annual Senior Citizens' Party (pic S. Williams, 18 July 2013)
Bloxwich Carnival Committee used the old baths function hall for their annual Senior Citizens’ Party (pic S. Williams, 18 July 2013)

“Over the coming weeks the two centres will be a hive of activity and the excitement of everyone working to get these centres ready is positively brimming over.

“Our customers are about to be able to access some truly iconic and outstanding facilities that they can be really proud of. Over the coming days we look forward to being able to launch our activity programmes ready to open both centres on Tuesday 9 August.”

Bloxwich Baths (bottom right) in the late 1920s, before the roof was put on in the mid 1930s
Bloxwich Baths (bottom right) in the late 1920s, before the roof was put on in the mid 1930s

Controversially, Bloxwich’s historic 1920s-30s public baths, originally an open air pool and converted into a function hall when the first Bloxwich Leisure Centre was built in 1991, was demolished to make way for the new car park of the new facility now on the site.

The old baths were also once a well-known event and live music venue, presenting famous acts like Jerry Lee Lewis in the 1960s, and are well-remembered by Slade glam rock singing star Noddy Holder in a new film made recently as part of the Bloxwich ReDiscover project by Students of Walsall Academy in Bloxwich. More recently, the building acted as the venue for the annual Bloxwich Carnival Senior Citizens’ Party.

Funded through the Council’s £24.3 million Active Living Centres initiative, the latest project received a £2m grant from Sport England’s “Iconic” facilities award scheme to support Walsall Council’s aspiration to improve Walsall residents’ overall health and well-being.

Smokefree car legislation in force from today

A new law comes into force today (1st October) making it illegal to smoke in vehicles with someone under the age of 18 present. Both the driver and the smoker can be fined.

The reason for this law is protect children from the dangers of second-hand smoke.  Every time a child breathes in second-hand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals, which put them at risk of serious conditions including meningitis, cancer, and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
People who break the law could be fined £50.

Stoptober logo
With one less place to smoke, there is one more reason to quit smoking.  You can sign up to Stoptober – the 28 day challenge, also starting today, which supports smokers to stop.  By signing up to Stoptober, you will receive a variety of free and proven support including packs, apps and emails to help you quit for 28 days and beyond.

Face-to-face advice and support can also be obtained from your local Stop Smoking Services in Walsall which are on hand to provide you with tailored advice and tips on how to quit.   You can contact the service on 01922 444 044 and find out where your nearest clinic is at the following link:

At the same time, Walsall Council Public Health is currently supporting the trial of a new approach to help parents quit smoking and to prevent young people from picking up the habit.  The campaign involves working with schools, initially ten secondary schools, to give young people the facts about smoking to create discussions with their parents and carers who want to quit. The programme has already been to Shire Oak Academy, Grace Academy and Elmwood school and will be in a number of schools across the borough this week.
Continue reading Smokefree car legislation in force from today

Heatwave health warning

    Summer skyline over Bradford Place, Walsall today (pic Stuart WIlliams)
    Summer skyline over Bradford Place, Walsall today (pic Stuart WIlliams)

With a week of hot weather on the horizon, and temperatures rocketing already today, Walsall families are being reminded by Walsall Council and the NHS how they can enjoy the sunshine while looking after their health.

A Level Two heat health warning has been issued for the West Midlands with temperatures of 30 degrees predicted over the week.

The level two warning is triggered as soon as the Met Office confirms there is a 60 per cent chance of heatwave conditions, when temperatures are high enough to have a significant effect on health on at least two consecutive days.

Councillor Rose Martin, public health and wellbeing portfolio holder: said it was important for Walsall residents to be aware of the health risks associated with heatwave temperatures.

“We want everyone to enjoy this hot spell safely in Walsall and not suffer any ill effects,” she said.

“We are reminding people of Public Health England’s key tips for staying safe and well and also asking them to be mindful of vulnerable friends or neighbours in their communities who can be affected by such high temperatures.

“So many people are getting out and about in our parks and countryside sites, or making the most of a safe swim at our leisure centres during this warm weather and it’s a lovely sight to see.

“But it’s been a while since we had such high temperatures and we want people to remember this summer for all the right reasons, not because they suffered as a result.”

The key tips to remember during such a hot spell are:

  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • If you are in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat
  • Avoid physical exertion
  • Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
  • Drink plenty of cold drinks and cool foods such as salads
  • Keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator
  • Look out for others, especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals

Remember that it can get uncomfortably hot indoors too. Try to keep your bedroom and living space cool, by closing the curtains on windows that receive the sun and opening your windows at cooler times of the day and overnight when safe to do so. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical items as these generate heat.

Walsall’s health and social care workers in the community, hospitals and care homes will also regularly check on vulnerable residents who are known to them.

Residents in Walsall can find useful tips via @phwalsall or Public Health England at and if you have any health queries to contact NHS 111.

Walsall Labour petitions against NHS bill

Labour in Bloxwich NHS Petition George Makin

Labour councillors and supporters were out in force again in Bloxwich on Saturday, this time campaigning against the UK government’s proposed ‘reform’ of the National Health Service, as pictures kindly sent in by George Makin clearly show.

Supported by respected Walsall North Labour MP David Winnick, local Labour councillors Ian Robertson (Blakenall),  Julie Fitzpatrick (Bloxwich East), Ann Young (Blakenall), Shaun Fitzpatrick (Bloxwich East) and Short Heath candidate Matt Ward amongst others were apparently kept very busy at Bloxwich Market Square collecting signatures on their petition protesting against the Conservative/Liberal Democrat’s troubled ‘NHS Health and Social Care Bill in England’, which is top of the British political and news agenda at the moment.

Tory Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley’s highly controversial bill, which many say will result in “privatisation by the back door” and the disastrously disjointed dismantling of one of the nation’s most important public services, looks set to be forced through by a government which has sets its face against all those who disagree with it, despite serious opposition from many professionals and respected bodies such as the Royal College of Nursing, who this week said that “…serious concerns expressed by [RCN] members have not been addressed during the parliamentary process, listening exercise or political engagement”.

The Royal College of General Practitioners has also now come out against the bill, and were not alone with the RCN and the British Medical Association in being unhappy about not being asked to attend Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting about the bill at Number 10 last Monday, from which several major opponents of the bill were effectively excluded.  They said “We are disappointed that the RCGP has not been invited to the meeting at Downing Street today.  The RCGP, with its 44,000 members, is the largest professional body of GPs in the UK. It is our Members who will have to implement the changes if the Bill goes through so it is very important that we are part of any discussions on the way forward.”

Despite increasingly strident claims that their changes to the National Health Service are “essential”, the government, which before the general election claimed that there would be “…no top down reform of the NHS…” has been unable to successfully engage with a number of major professional bodies such as the RCGP, whose members will be expected to take on massive extra responsibilities as a result of root and branch changes to be imposed on a service which is already creaking under the weight of heavy budget and staff cuts.

Widespread opposition has already resulted in hundreds of amendments being made to the incredibly complex bill, but many are saying it should now be thrown out altogether as unworkable.

Meanwhile angry doctors and students who are members of the British Medical Association are seriously considering industrial action over the government’s proposed ‘reforms’ of their pensions.  Last month they overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s “final” offer on pensions, which involves higher contributions, ending the final salary scheme, and altering the lump sum paid on retirement.

The BMA say the changes would see younger doctors contributing more than £200,000 extra over their lifetime and being forced to work eight years longer, to age 68.  Industrial action from doctors, were it to take place,  would be the first since the 1970s, possibly signalling a “spring of discontent” in the NHS.

Labour in Bloxwich NHS Petition 2 George Makin
Members of the public sign Walsall Labour's petition on the NHS Bill in Bloxwich

In the meantime, Saturday’s enthusiastic response to Labour’s petitioning in Bloxwich seems to indicate that members of the public are finally beginning to realise that in England at least, one of their most highly valued and respected public services is in serious danger.

Pictures courtesy George Makin

Deputy Mayor welcomes former Bloxwich metalworker to Harden Hall

Mrs Cross Harden Hall Feb 2012
Mrs Louis Cross and her daughter Sandra Holford meet Deputy Mayor Cllr Graham Wilkes

Walsall’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Graham Wilkes has returned to new care home Harden Hall just two weeks after attending the official opening of the home, to personally welcome its first resident, Mrs Louis Cross.

And Ideal Care Homes’ Managing Director, Mark Greaves, joined ninety-two year old Mrs Cross and her daughter Sandra Holford for a cup of tea as Councillor Wilkes presented Mrs Cross with a bouquet of flowers.

The Deputy Mayor had attended Harden Hall’s professional open day earlier this month and was so impressed by the facilities and staff that he asked to come back to welcome their first resident.

Born in Walsall, Mrs Cross started work at the age of fourteen, and during the Second World War made buckles for soldier’s uniforms.  She worked at the Samuel Wilkes Factory in Bloxwich for thirty-one years, before moving to Elliot’s in Walsall where she worked until she was seventy-three years of age.

Mrs Cross has three children, seven grandchildren, eleven grandchildren and four great great grandchildren, and has settled in very quickly to her new home.

Mark Greaves, Managing Director of Ideal Care Homes said:

“It is a pleasure to welcome Mrs Cross to her new home.  We never under estimate what a big step it is moving into a new environment, but I know that Adam and his team of carers will go to every length to make sure the move for all our residents are as smooth as possible.”

“This is the first home Ideal Care Homes have opened in Walsall, since the public open day on Sunday 5th February, there has been large public interest in Harden Hall, with a high number of rooms already being reserved.  This is a testament to Ideal Care Homes’ offer of affordable, quality care and also the demand for quality care in Walsall.”

For more on Harden Hall, see our previous news stories on the opening and open days.

Information and photograph provided by Ideal Carehomes.

Harden Hall care home opens doors

Ideal Care Homes Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson, Deputy Mayor Councillor Graham Wilkes and Harden Hall Manager Adam Preece in front of Robert Bower’s sculpture.

Last week Carers at Walsall’s newest care home were delighted to show off its facilities to members of the caring profession, to mark its imminent opening in the local community.

Guests attending the opening included the Deputy Mayor Councillor Graham Wilkes, Reverend John Davies from neighbouring Coalpool Methodist Church and local care workers, district nurses, local Councillors and social workers.

Also unveiled was a specially commissioned sculpture of an abstract representation of ‘scissors and needle’ created by Dudley based Artist Robert Bowers paying tribute to the areas historic leather industry.  This is the first of 3 sculptures Robert Bowers has been commissioned to produce for new Ideal Care Homes, to celebrate the community history and heritage.

Harden Hall sculpture
Specially commissioned sculpture of an abstract representation of ‘scissors and needle’ created by Robert Bowers .

Harden Hall in Coalpool Lane, Walsall is a brand new luxurious home from home facility offering both residential and Dementia Care and providing a home for 54 older people.

Operated by Ideal Care Homes Harden Hall is part of the Leeds-based Ideal Care Homes and boasts 100% en-suite accommodation, landscaped sensory gardens, delicious home cooked food and a hairdressing salon.

In a presentation by Ideal Care Homes’ Business Development Director; Andrew Long, local care workers, district nurses, local Councillors and social workers were given an insight into Ideal Care Homes and its aim to change the face of residential care.  Tours of the new purpose built home also took place before guests joined for a buffet lunch.

After touring the home Deputy Mayor Councillor Graham Wilkes commented:

“This is a lovely facility and just what the local community needed, I only live up the road, so I will be a regular visitor popping in for a cuppa.  I will be delighted to come back to the home to welcome the first residents as they move in”

Lay Worker Linda Brown and Reverend John Davies said:

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming the home into the local community and will be working with Adam and his team to bring a service to the home for those residents who wish to attend”

Ley Worker Linda Brown added:

“The home is so lovely, I am thinking of reserving a room!”

Ideal Care Homes Business Development Director; Andrew Long commented:

“Harden Hall is a stunning care home by anybody’s standards and the team relished the opportunity to show off its first rate facilities.  Adam and his team are able to showcase just why our homes are a great place to live and they very much look forward to Harden Hall becoming an integral part of the local community and welcoming their first residents.  We invite local residents and families the opportunity to view the facilities, meet the staff and reserve rooms”

Harden Hall was built by sister company LNT Construction, both part of the Leeds-based LNT Group owned by adult social care expert Lawrence Tomlinson.  The Yorkshire born entrepreneur is responsible for a new era in care by abolishing third party top-up fees to ensure the highest quality of care for all, regardless of financial wealth and circumstances.

Report and pictures provided by LNT Group

New Harden care home opens doors to public and pros

Harden Hall Care Home artist's impression

A brand new Care Home is opening shortly in Harden, near Leamore, and the management are now inviting both members of the public and  professionals to see the new facility at two open days in early February.

Harden Hall will aim to offer ‘affordable residential and dementia care’, and is run by private company Ideal Care Homes of Leeds, part of the LNT Group.

The Hall, which is located on Coalpool Lane, is nearing completion, and when open will be able to offer care to fifty-four residents.

The Professional Open Day, which is aimed at social workers, doctors, nurses and members of other professional bodies, takes place on Wednesday 1 February, between 11.30am – 2.30pm, and will offer tours of the home’s state-of-the-art facilities and the chance to meet Care Home Manager Adam Preece and his staff, as well as a luxury buffet lunch.

The Public Open Day is set for Sunday 5 February, 11.30am-2.30pm, also offering the public the opportunity to have a look round, meet the management and staff, and if they wish reserve rooms for their loved ones.

Anyone interested in attending will need to contact Marketing Manager Jenny Soles to confirm their attendance, telephone 0113 385 3566 or email

For more information on the company, check out their website: and for background on LNT Group, see:

Keep Warm, Keep Well

Keep Warm, Keep Well

Keep Warm, Keep Well is the message to Black Country residents this winter as the cold weather sets in. The Black Country Cluster of PCTs has put together a range of leaflets filled with top tips on how to avoid getting a cold, how to heat your home effectively and efficiently as well as information on grants and benefits available to residents to help with paying heating bills or insulating their home. Continue reading Keep Warm, Keep Well

Christmas competition takes health messages online

Black Country NHS

A new online campaign will offer Black Country people a chance to improve their health – and boost their wealth – by finding out how to get the right treatment this winter.

The Black Country Cluster of Primary Care Trusts is promoting its recently launched Facebook page with a health awareness competition. People taking part will be asked to ‘like’ the page then guess the common word in a series of daily messages which will be posted in the run up to Christmas.

Michelle Beddow, from the Cluster’s communications team, came up with the idea. She explains: “We hope this will be a fun way of getting some important health messages across as well as encouraging more people to follow us on Facebook. We’re offering three prizes of high street vouchers, with £100 for the winner and £25 each for two runners up.

“Our Cluster covers Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, but anyone who wants to follow us is welcome to do so and take part in the competition, which started on Monday. (19 December) If you miss the start, you can always join in and catch up as long as you find our page and ‘like’ us before Christmas Eve.”

To enter the competition residents just need to visit and search for Black Country NHS. Once they have found the page they need to ‘like’ it. Each day a new message will be posted with a common word.

The last message posted on Christmas Eve will contain details of where to send answers and contact details to. Anyone who has sent in the correct answer and ‘liked’ the Black Country NHS facebook page will be entered into a prize draw.

The first prize is £100 high street vouchers with two runner up prizes of £25 high street vouchers each. The deadline for entries is Thursday 12 January 2012 with the draw taking place on Friday 13 January 2012.