Your local NHS is prepared for cold weather – are you?

The Met office is predicting a cold snap with potentially some severe cold weather, icy conditions and heavy snow for the next couple of days.

The NHS in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin has pulled out all the stops to prepare for this winter. We are determined to protect the standards of service that local people have come to expect, despite the considerable pressures that we anticipate over the winter months.

As a result, planning started earlier than ever before with hospitals, GPs, social services and other health professionals coming together to work out the best way of responding to local needs.

Remember: cold weather doesn't have to go hand in hand with illness. Here are some simple things you can do to help yourself stay well this winter, and can often mean that you don’t need any other help.

  • Keep warm – this may help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia.
  • Eat well – food gives you energy, which helps to keep you warm. So, try to have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day. 
  • Get a flu jab – flu vaccination is offered free of charge to people who are at risk, pregnant women, carers and some young children to ensure that they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.

But, if you do start to feel poorly, below are some great local services that you can go to  for help and advice. You can also visit www.nhs.uk/staywell to find out more about your local services.

Ask your pharmacist
Pharmacists are expert in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

NHS111
If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111 for free. An adviser will ask you some questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your local area.

Shropdoc Out of Hours Service
When your own GP is closed, but you think you need some urgent medical advice and help, then you can also call Shropdoc.  Shropdoc can be contacted on 0333 222 6655.

See your family doctor
GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

Visit an urgent care service
Visit a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre if you have a minor illness or injury (infections, vomiting and stomach aches) and it can't wait until your GP surgery is open. These services are often managed by nurses and some also have doctors.

Winter health advice

Common winter illnesses 

  • Colds – to ease the symptoms of a cold, drink plenty of fluids and try to rest. Steam inhalation and vapour rubs can also help. Prevent colds from spreading by washing your hands thoroughly, cleaning surfaces regularly and always sneeze and cough into tissues, throwing them away after use.
    Find out more about treating colds
  •  Sore throats – a sore throat is almost always caused by a viral infection, such as a cold. Try not to eat or drink anything that’s too hot, as this could further irritate your throat; cool or warm drinks and cool, soft foods should go down easier. Find out more about treating sore throats
  • Asthma – a range of weather-related triggers can set off asthma symptoms, including cold air. Covering your nose and mouth with a warm scarf when you’re out can help.
    Find out more about treating asthma
  • Norovirus – this is also known as the winter vomiting bug, although it can cause diarrhoea too. The main thing to do to is drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. You can also take paracetamol for any aches, pains or fever.
    Find out more about treating norovirus
  • Flu – if you’re 65 or over, have a long-term health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, flu can be life-threatening, so it’s important to seek help early. However, if you’re generally fit and healthy, the best treatment is to rest, stay warm and drink plenty of water.
    Find out more about treating flu

Useful local links – keep informed of school closures, gritting and other services:

https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/stay-safe-and-well-this-winter/
http://www.telford.gov.uk/winter