Winter health – help us help you

Published: 30 October 2023

Person holding a hot water bottle

Now the clocks have gone back and with the nights drawing in and getting colder, it’s important to take action to look after your own health and your family’s too.

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.

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 or are pregnant. There is more about vaccinations on our Integrated Care System website
  • 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 visit NHS 111 online or call 111. Urgent treatment is available 7 days a week to treat injuries like sprains, cuts, grazes, bites, stings, burns and scalds and minor illnesses.

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 get in contact with your GP practice via their website and they can arrange the most suitable help for you.

Find out more on our winter help us help you pages.