As temperatures drop and the wet weather sweeps in, it brings with it an increased risk of catching a cold, or worse.
Throughout this autumn and winter, residents of North East Hampshire and Farnham are urged to do all that they can to keep themselves safe, warm and bug-free.
Local clinicians are supporting a national NHS and Public Health campaign aimed at preventing people from becoming ill – or acting swiftly the moment they become unwell.
The oldest and youngest members of the community are at greatest risk of illness and they – and a number of other specific groups, such as pregnant women – are eligible for free flu vaccinations because of this.
Dr Andy Whitfield, Chair and Clinical Lead of NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Last winter large numbers of people, particularly elderly men and women, fell victim to some extremely nasty respiratory conditions, which led to many of them being admitted to hospital for lengthy periods.
“As well as being an extremely unpleasant experience for the individuals, the overall result for the NHS was that acute services came under enormous strain, with a knock-on effect on other medical and social care services.
“All of us – patients, relatives, carers, doctors or nurses – want to avoid this happening again. The best way is to do all we can to avoid becoming ill in the first place.”
Local people are urged to follow a number of simple steps to help them to stay well:
- Getting a flu vaccination;
- If possible, keeping their home heated to at least 18C (65f);
- Washing or disinfecting hands with alcohol gel regularly;
- Seeking advice and help from a pharmacist as soon they feel unwell, before it gets too serious;
- Keeping an eye on elderly or frail relatives, neighbours and friends;
- Getting repeat prescriptions before Christmas Eve;
- Taking prescribed medicines as directed.
Dr Peter Bibawy, the CCG’s Clinical Director for Urgent and Emergency Care, said: “If you follow these fairly simple steps you really can go a long way to helping yourself and anyone you care for to stay well.
“It is important that anyone eligible to have the free flu vaccine takes up that opportunity, as they have been identified as being at higher risk. Anyone else can still have the jab at a pharmacy but they will have to pay for it.
“If you do start to feel unwell, please don’t suffer in silence, as any infection or disease can get worse if untreated. Talk to your pharmacist or your GP or call NHS111 for help and advice.”