By being prepared and making the right choices this winter, you will be better placed to stay healthy, keep control of your health and wellbeing and get the right care for you and your family when you need it.
The NHS will feel better too. If more people are able to meet their own needs that will ease the pressure on health services and help to make sure the right care is available when people really need it.
Talk to your local pharmacist
about stocking up with over-the-counter medicines for everyday ailments like coughs, colds, aches and pains. Your pharmacist can also help you make sure that if you take regular medication you order your repeat prescriptions in good time.
Get your flu vaccine
The flu jab is available free from your GP if you are over 65, pregnant or have a long-term condition such as heart failure, diabetes or respiratory disease. This year the vaccine is also available to children aged two and three as a nasal spray. If you are not in one of these groups you can pay for the vaccine – ask your pharmacist for details
Be prepared for bad weather
Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes and food at home and keep an eye out for your elderly neighbours. If you have to go out in bad weather, think carefully about what you wear – especially on your feet – and how you travel.
Think about doing a basic first aid course. This will help you better deal with minor injuries like burns, strains and sprains, as well as basic life support. For more information about courses visit: www.redcross.org.uk/firstaid
Talk before you walk
Sickness rates increase over the winter. Most people recover from minor illnesses without needing to see a doctor. A combination of rest, fluids and the right over-the-counter medication will usually get you back on your feet – but there is lots of medical help and advice close at hand if you are worried or are not getting better.
Use your local pharmacist
This is a good place to start when you need health advice. Your pharmacist can provide over-the-counter medication for everyday ailments such as coughs and colds, as well as pain relief for headache, stomach ache and earache.
Call NHS 111
When you need help quickly but it’s not an emergency, call 111 and you will be directed to the best service for your needs. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is free to call from landlines or mobile phones. You can also call NHS 111 for health advice – and health information is available around the clock at www.nhs.uk
Use Health Help Now
Health Help Now also offers reliable health advice and links to other useful websites. It works on smartphones, tablets, and computers.