As the season gets under way and Christmas approaches, health and care leaders from across the region are asking people to do as much as they can to stay healthy to avoid any unnecessary hospital stays at such a busy time.
We can all help ourselves by following some simple advice:
- If you’re eligible, get your flu vaccination from your general practice or pharmacy to protect yourself against catching flu this winter. There’s still time.
- If you start to feel unwell, even just from a cough or cold, don’t wait until it gets more serious – get help from your pharmacist straight away. The sooner you get advice the better – pharmacists are here to help you stay well this winter.
- If you’ve been prescribed medication, don’t forget to pick up your prescription before the Christmas holidays start. Many GPs and pharmacies will close over the bank holidays. Stock up on any over-the-counter medicines you might need over the festive period.
- If you do need help over the holiday period when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call NHS 111 to get the right medical attention urgently or visit www.nhs.uk which can direct you to a local service that is open.
- Finally, older neighbours, relatives, friends and other elderly members of the community are more vulnerable in the winter months and may need a bit of extra help. You can help them by keeping in touch, checking if they are feeling under the weather, helping them stock up on food supplies and making sure they have the necessary medication before the Christmas holidays start.
Dr Ian Orpen, a GP based in Bath and chair of B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’s Clinical Board, said:
“As winter gets well and truly under way, health and care services in B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire will begin to experience an increase in demand, so the more our residents can do to stay well this winter and help reduce that pressure, the better.
"Taking simple steps such as making sure you have a flu jab, seeing a pharmacist rather than ignoring minor ailments, calling 111 for urgent medical help and ensuring you have a supply of any over the counter medications before the Christmas holidays will really help.
"It’s also important that everyone uses the service that is right for their health and care needs. During the winter, hospitals and A&E departments can get very busy – so calling 111 or visiting your pharmacist or GP can make all the difference in making sure that the NHS works most effectively and hospitals are more easily able to treat those with serious conditions or injuries.”
The winter advice has been issued by the B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (BSW STP) and is part of a new NHS and Public Health England campaign called Help Us Help You.
The campaign aims to help make it easier for the public to understand the things they can do to manage their own health and get the best out of the NHS. By following the expert advice of NHS staff, the public can stay well; prevent an illness getting worse; take the best course of action; and get well again sooner.