Winter health – help the NHS help you

Winter is a busy time for the NHS and there are a huge range of services available, so knowing the best place to go to get the right help is really important.

Published: Tuesday, 18th December 2018

*** For the original press release, please visit

Using the right health services is not only good for individuals but helps the NHS as a whole by making sure resources are used in the right way.

There are things we can all do to be ready for whatever winter throws at us:

  • If invited to then get your flu jab this is most important if you are over 65, have a long term illness, are under 5 or are pregnant.
  • Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home. You can buy all the items you need from your local pharmacist or supermarket, own brand medicines are available often at little cost compared to branded medicines. You probably won’t need to keep all these items in your medicine cabinet “just in case” but you may want to include a selection of those you use most often.
  • Keep yourself healthy by eating well and exercising.
  • You can help stop infections spreading by washing hands, cleaning surfaces regularly and coughing or sneezing into tissues and then throwing them away after use.

For conditions like coughs and colds, or a stomach bug you are best off looking after yourself to begin with then seeking help if your condition doesn't improve.

  • For colds and flu it is best to rest, keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and take painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  • For norovirus again rest and drink plenty of fluids. You should also stay off work or school for 48 hours after the symptoms finish. If you can, stay away from other people who could catch the virus from you, particularly older people and children. Please don't visit relatives in hospital or care homes as norovirus spreads easily, can make patients very poorly and can lead to the closure of hospital wards or homes.

For 24-hour urgent health advice ring NHS 111.

Visit your pharmacist (chemist) for advice on medicines or when you are suffering from common ailments that don't need to be seen by a nurse or doctor, such as coughs, colds and sore throats.

If you have an illness that just won't go away make an appointment to see your GP or practice nurse or speak to them on the phone.

An Urgent Care Centre is available 7 days a week at the QEII Hospital, Welwyn Garden City and Hemel Hempstead Hospital which can treat injuries like sprains, cuts, grazes, bites, stings, burns and scalds and minor illnesses. Cheshunt Community Hospital Herts and Essex Hospital and St Albans City Hospital have minor injuries units.

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