Get prepared and stay well this winter
Cold weather does not have to go hand in hand with illness. That's the message from Southwark GPs who are calling on local residents to prepare for winter and follow advice on how to stay healthy.
Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health, especially people aged 65 or over, and those with long-term conditions like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, heart disease and diabetes.
There are some steps we can all take to ward off common illnesses and avoid a trip to hospital.
- Keep yourself warm - heat your home to least 18 degrees C or (65F) if you can. Wear several layers of clothes as they trap warm air better that one bulky layer. Visit www.gov.uk/phe/keep-warm to make sure you are getting the support you are entitled to keep your home energy efficient.
- If you start to feel unwell seek help from your local pharmacist or GP as soon as possible.
- Make sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve.
- Always take your prescribed medicines as directed.
- Get your free flu jab as soon as possible if you are eligible for one – don't forget that you can get this at pharmacies as well as from your GP.
- Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter. People over 65 are the largest group admitted to hospital over winter. You can help by checking on neighbours or relatives to see if their food supplies are stocked up and make sure they have enough of any necessary medication.
Dr Obi Ezeji, local GP and Governing Body member of NHS Southwark CCG, said that there are a range of health problems associated with winter weather and cold homes.
"It is essential to keep yourself warm as the weather gets colder, both indoors and outdoors, and this is especially the case for the very young, older people or those with a chronic illness.
"If you start to feel unwell, even if it is just a cough or cold, don't wait for it to get worse but seek immediate advice from your pharmacist. The sooner you get help the better," he said.
Southwark's Pharmacy First scheme offers quick and local access to advice and treatment from the pharmacist at your local pharmacy about common illnesses. You don't need to wait to see your doctor and you don't need an appointment. If you don't pay for your prescriptions the pharmacist will be able to give you medicines to treat a range of common illnesses and conditions. Find out which treatments are available.
Helping you to see a GP when you need to
Southwark residents have said that sometimes they find it difficult to get an appointment with a doctor or nurse. So, an extra £2 million each year has been invested in more appointments, including at the weekend and in the evening, through the Extended Primary Care Service. Your consultation may be at your practice or one nearby. Contact your GP practice in the usual way and they will offer you an appointment if it is right for you. If you need medical advice overnight call SELDOC on 020 8693 9066.
More helpful tips to help you and your family stay well this winter can be found at www.nhs.uk/staywell