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North Tyneside fundraiser embarks on latest challenge

A North Tyneside fundraiser has embarked on his latest challenge to raise money for the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Ivan Hollingsworth, 40, who lives in Whitley Bay, has raised more than £400,000 over the last five years for the Children's Heart Unit after his son, Sebastian, had surgery at the hospital in 2009.

He has now began his sixth coast-to-coast challenge to pay for specialist staff at the hospital's new £300,000 playroom.

Ivan and a team of riders, including staff from the Freeman Hospital, will cycle 140 miles from Whitehaven, in West Cumbria to Tynemouth.

North East E.coli outbreak - cold meat warning

Two shops in County Durham and Teesside have been affected

People are being warned not to eat cold meats bought from two shops in the North East, after of an outbreak of the E.coli bacteria.

The warning applies to cold pre-cooked meats and savouries bought since June 25th from two branches of Robinson's butchers and caterers - in Wingate, County Durham, and Billingham, Teesside.

There has been seven confirmed cases and one suspected case of E.coli O157 in the last week, affecting adults and children.

Three children are currently receiving treatment in hospital.

Public Health England says the warning is being issued as a precaution, while they investigate the source of the outbreak.

E.coli O157 is a serious bacterial infection that can cause severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure.

Pre-cooked meats are thought to be behind the outbreak

"The source of this outbreak is not yet known. However, several of the affected people are known to have eaten cooked meat products bought or supplied by Robinson’s butcher shops in either Wingate or Billingham. Although our investigation is at a very early stage, as a precautionary measure we are advising anyone who has bought cooked meats or savouries from Robinson’s butchers in Wingate or Billingham since 25 June, and still has them in their fridge or freezer, not to eat them and to throw them out immediately. The owner and staff of Robinson’s butchers and caterers are co-operating fully with the investigation and have agreed to discard all ready to eat food from both premises while the investigation continues. They have also agreed to carry out a deep clean of both premises and reinforce good hygiene practices. E.coli O157 infection can cause severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and more rarely kidney failure in children. Anyone who has eaten cooked meats bought since 25 June from Robinson’s butchers and feels unwell should contact their GP in the usual way."

– Dr Deb Wilson, outbreak control team, Public Health England


More people use drugs to fight alcohol dependency

More people are trying to kick the addiction. Credit: PA

More people in the North are actively fighting their addiction to alcohol, according to figures released this morning.

The number of prescriptions written for anti-alcohol drugs in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and Cumbria rose by 12.7% last year to 11,761.

Durham, Darlington and Teesside saw an 11.5% rise.

On average, fifty prescriptions a day are being written for the drugs, which reduce cravings.

The North East has the second highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in England, with twice as many people in the region dying from drink-triggered causes than 20 years ago.

But health bosses say the latest figures demonstrate that more people than ever are now addressing their addiction, and seeking help for it.

These figures are very encouraging. We've known for a long time that there is a need to increase the use of this medication in order to help people tackle their alcohol problems. This rise in numbers show that more people are recognising they have a problem and are deciding to take positive steps towards recovery. Eradicating the stigma of seeking treatment is key to helping people access the support they need. Alcohol use has become such a norm in our community that people often find it hard to acknowledge there is a problem."

– Alice Wiseman, public health consultant for Gateshead Council

In Gateshead alone, hospital admissions due to alcohol-related cancer and alcoholic liver diseases have increased by a staggering 50% in the past ten years, with an estimated 13,500 dependent drinkers in the town.

The campaign group Balance North East claims alcohol misuse is costing the region's economy £242m each year.


Fewer days lost to sickness in the North East

The North East officially has the second-lowest sick rate in the UK, according to a new report.

The Sickness Absence Survey shows that each working person loses 4.3 days a year to sick leave in the North East - down from 5.5 days in 2014.

The year-on-year drop in 'days lost to sickness' sees the region go from having one of the highest sickness rates to having the second lowest in the UK.

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