Help yourself and your NHS this winter

Winter is a busy time for the NHS, and Somerset’s Public Health chief is reminding people of the simple things they can do to help make this Christmas a healthy one.

Trudi Grant, Somerset’s Director of Public Health, is highlighting some common sense practical steps people can take to minimise the risk to their own health this winter.

“No-one wants to be ill over the festive period and there are some simple things we can all do to reduce the chances of that happening,” she said.

“Cold and flu-like symptoms are often a problem at this time of year. You can help reduce your risk of catching a bug by washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Prevent the spread of viruses by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and disposing of used tissues quickly.

“If you are unwell, you should also consider where is the best place to go for treatment. Accident and Emergency (A&E) is for life threatening and serious injury and illnesses only, and there are a range of other options that could better suit your needs.”

Other options for treatment could include your local pharmacy, the national NHS 111 service, a minor injuries unit or your GP.

“Prevention is always better than cure,” added Trudi. “It’s important that you keep warm in the winter. People should try and eat warm food and drink hot drinks, heat homes to at least 18C and move about regularly to keep warm. If you know someone who may be adversely affected by the cold, an elderly relative, friend or neighbour, someone not in the best of health or with very young children try to be a good neighbour and offer support.

“Finally, having a well-stocked medicine cabinet and making the most of your well qualified local pharmacist to treat minor ailments will all help to relieve pressure on the NHS.”

Cllr Christine Lawrence, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Our health service works so hard throughout the year but especially in winter when so many bugs and viruses are going around.

“We can all do our bit to help ourselves – and the NHS – by taking simple preventative measures, by checking on our vulnerable friends and neighbours, and by choosing carefully about the kind of help and support we need.

“I wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.” 

People who should have flu jab:

The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk to ensure that they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.

You are eligible to receive a free flu jab if you:

  • are 65 years of age or over
  • are pregnant
  • have certain medical conditions
  • are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
  • are a healthcare worker with direct patient contact or a social care worker