NHS campaign to help people stay well this winter

People across Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven are being urged to stay well this winter by getting the right treatment and making the best use of the healthcare services available to them.

Winter 2016 - all i want for christmas is fluBy choosing the right service, patients will get the best treatment in the shortest possible time, while keeping emergency health services available for emergencies and life-threatening conditions.

Traditionally, winter months see an increase in mild bugs and viruses. Self-care is the best choice to treat minor injuries and illnesses such as coughs, colds, sore throats and upset stomachs.

There isn’t usually a treatment your doctor can give you for these conditions, but the unpleasant symptoms caused by many minor illnesses can be helped with over-the-counter remedies available from a community pharmacy. Pharmacies can also provide advice on a range of minor ailments including bugs and viruses, tummy troubles and much more. Your local pharmacy should be the first point of contact for any minor illnesses. 

For patients wanting to find information online, the NHS Choices website is available 24/7 and offers up to date and expert advice on a range of illnesses, as well details of local health services. For patients wanting advice and signposting, the NHS 111 (dial 111) service is a free helpline, available 24/7 for patients needing medical help fast when it is not a life-threatening situation. 

In addition to face-to-face GP appointments, patients registered at many practices can now book a telephone consultation with their GP. Ask at your practice for more details.

Dr Dave Tatham, clinical lead for urgent and emergency care at the Bradford CCGs, said: “It is important that local people know where to go if they are unwell, so that they can receive the best possible treatment in the quickest time for their condition.

"There isn’t a ‘cure’ for most winter bugs, so attending an appointment with the GP or going to A&E with minor symptoms usually isn’t helpful; but there are many alternatives: self-care, pharmacies, online and telephone help. Using A&E and GP services appropriately means that these services are available for those that really need them, which ultimately saves lives, so please think about the best service for your treatment next time you are unwell.”

People with long-term conditions should take extra care overwinter. The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can all aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to illnesses that are more common in winter.

Dr Tatham said: “It’s essential to look out for elderly relatives and neighbours who could be at risk over any cold snaps too. Please make sure you, or vulnerable people you know, have enough food and medicines in stock, and are able to keep yourselves warm.

“If you have respiratory or heart conditions like COPD, asthma or emphysema and are concerned about how to keep well in the cold weather, then speak to your nurse or GP.”

There are many different ways that people can help themselves to get the right treatment and allow busy NHS services to help the people who need them most.

The options are:

  • self-care: look after yourself at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet – visit www.nhs.uk/Livewell for more information
  • pharmacist (chemist): for expert advice on common illnesses and the best medicines to treat them
  • GP (doctor): for illnesses that just won’t go away, arrange to see your doctor
  • call 111: if you need urgent healthcare, contact NHS 111 which will help you access the local service that can help you best
  • NHS Choices: www.nhs.uk is the UK’s biggest health website, containing a range of information to help you look after yourself and your family
  • A&E or 999: only if you need very urgent medical attention.