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Stay Well in Winter

 

The winter months can be challenging for many Surrey residents, and add more pressure to NHS services during periods of extreme weather. Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially for those aged 65 and over, or if you have a long-term health condition. Even for those in full health, winter can bring with it coughs, colds and flu bugs.

Stay healthy and well this winter and be prepared using the advice below. Seek help when needed using the most appropriate local NHS services listed below, and stock your medicine cabinet with the essentials to keep you and your family well this season.

There is also a range of very helpful resources on the Healthy Surrey website.

On this page you will find information on:

Accessing NHS Services 

If you have a symptom that could be cancer (such as unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury, an unexplained lump, weight loss which feels significant to you or an unexplained pain that doesn’t go away) a maternity concern, or a routine appointment, the NHS is here to help you and can see you safely.

Routine appointments

If you have a routine appointment, make sure you keep it, unless recommended otherwise by your doctor. If you are told to go to hospital for a routine appointment, then the NHS has measures in place to make sure that it safe for you to do so.

No staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or come into contact with someone with symptoms are allowed to work in the hospital meaning the NHS can see you in a safe environment.

Maternity

If you are pregnant, it is crucial that you still attend your antenatal appointments and continue to seek advice from your midwife or maternity team to ensure you have a safe and healthy pregnancy. If you are worried about your health or the health of your unborn baby, please do not hesitate to contact your midwife or maternity team.

Women of a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background may be at higher risk of complications of coronavirus. Maternity services have been asked to take extra precautions to keep women at greatest risk safe and everyone should seek advice without delay if they are concerned about their or their baby’s health.

Midwives have worked hard to make sure you still have a personal and safe maternity experience during this time, but some services will need to adapt. This could mean having telephone or video consultations or attending your antenatal appointments in a different setting. Your midwife will have more details about what is happening in your area.

Cancer

If you’ve had unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury (such as blood in your poo or pee), an unexplained lump, weight loss which feels significant to you or an unexplained pain that lasts three weeks or more, it could be a sign of cancer. It’s probably nothing serious, but finding cancer early makes it more treatable, so just speak to your GP.

 

Flu Vaccine

Getting the flu vaccination is a great way of protecting yourself from flu this winter, especially for those who are at a greater risk of developing potentially serious complications. It's also the most effective way of reducing the spread of the virus with those we come into contact with, helping ensure Surrey residents stay fit and well this winter.

The flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help us all against the risk of flu and its complications, and for many Surrey residents, it is completely free if you fall into one of the groups below. This year, with COVID-19 in circulation, it’s more important than ever that eligible groups are vaccinated to protect them from flu and the vaccine will be offered to more than 30 million people. The expansion of the flu programme means that many more people will be eligible to receive the free vaccine for the first time, but may not realise this.

Those eligible for a free flu vaccination:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged 2- 11 years old (on the 31 August 2020)
  • Members of a shielding household
  • 65 years and older
  • Have a long-term condition (see a full list on the NHS website).
    • a heart problem
    • a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma
    • a kidney disease
    • lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
    • liver disease
    • had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
    • diabetes
    • a neurological condition, e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy
    • a learning disability
    • a problem with your spleen, e.g. sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
    • are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)
  • Those living in a residential or nursing home
  • The main unpaid carer of an older person or disabled person. (Action for Carers provide more information on the Surrey Carers flu voucher scheme)
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Health and social care workers employed through Direct Payment (personal budgets) and or Personal Health Budgets (such as Personal Assistants) to deliver domiciliary care to patients and service users

If you are aged between 50 and 64 you will be invited to get your free flu vaccine from the beginning of December and into the New Year as part of this year’s expanded flu vaccination programme. GPs and pharmacies will be arranging appointments to coincide with delivery of new vaccine stock. Please be patient as they make plans for this and wait to be contacted. Please remember that vaccinations will continue throughout the winter season. 

If you are in an at-risk group, you remain a priority for vaccination and should contact your GP or pharmacy as soon as possible for your free flu vaccine. Your GP practice and the pharmacies in your area will have a range of measures in place to keep you safe from COVID-19. Visit nhs.uk/flujab to find out more.

Check out this handy short animation to help raise awareness of flu this year and why it’s so important for those who are eligible to have theirs to help stay well this winter.

Flu vaccine availability

To help answer questions you may have concerning flu vaccine availability, please refer to the Flu Vaccination: why you are being asked to wait web page on GOV.UK. It includes a new two-page leaflet. This explains that there is sufficient vaccine available for all eligible groups and also highlights why a person who is eligible may be asked to wait for a vaccine while providing reassurance that they will be able to have one before flu season starts.

Where can I get my free flu jab?

If you're eligible for a free flu vaccination, you can have it at:

  • Your GP surgery
  • A local pharmacy offering the service
  • Your midwifery service if they offer it for pregnant women

Most community pharmacists now offer flu vaccination to adults (but not children) who are at risk of flu, including pregnant women, people aged 65 and over and people with long-term health conditions.

Common flu questions answered

Discover more flu vaccine FAQs on the NHS website.

The flu vaccination winter 2020 to 2021: who should have it and why 

This leaflet explains how you can help protect yourself and your children against flu this coming winter, and why it’s very important that people who are at increased risk from flu have their free vaccination every year. You'll find  different language versions of this leaflet on the GOV.UK website.

The complete video of the flu vaccination winter 2020 to 2021: who should have it and why - British Sign Language version is available to view here.

Protecting your child against flu

This leaflet explains which children are eligible for flu vaccination, as well as describing the disease and the vaccine. You'll find flu vaccination for children leaflets and posters in various languages on the GOV.UK website.

Protect yourself from flu - easy read leaflet

This leaflet is aimed at people who have, or care for someone with a learning disability. You'll find flu vaccination easy read resources on the GOV.UK website.

Films about the importance of the flu vaccination for people with a learning disability:

  • Click here to watch a short film that covers why it is important, who is eligible for a free vaccine, where you can get the vaccine and reasonable adjustments.
  • Click here to watch a short film featuring Registered Learning Disability nurse Becky.

Films about the importance of the flu vaccination for carers of people with a learning disability:

  • Click here to watch a short film for carers.
  • Click here to watch a short film featuring Registered Learning Disability nurse Becky - for carers

Flu messages in Bengali, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, and Pashto:

Thank you to Oxfordshire CCG and the faith and community leaders in Oxford who produced these videos encouraging communities to get vaccinated:

Click here to listen in Bengali 

Click here to listen in Urdu 

Click here to listen in Punjabi 

Click here to listen in Arabic

Click here to listen in Pashto

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) factsheet - Why it is essential to get vaccinated against flu

Operation Vaccination is a campaign to increase awareness in Muslim communities about the importance of getting a flu vaccination this winter 2020-21. The MCB have put together a handy fact sheet why it is essential to get vaccinated against flu which gives answers to frequently asked questions.

 

Pharmacy advice

Help us help you by speaking with your local pharmacy team about minor health concerns before they get worse. They can help with clinical advice for all sorts of illnesses there and then, and if your symptoms suggest it's something more serious, they have the right training to ensure you get the help you need. It may also save you lots of time by receiving advice and treatment on the spot, without the need to go to your GP or A&E.

Get help early, if you are feeling unwell, don't wait, go to your nearest pharmacy.


Why visit the pharmacy?


Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals with the clinical know-how to give you the help you need. They can assess your minor illness and recommend the right treatment, whether it's over the counter medicines, a few days rest or a bit of reassurance.

What can pharmacists help with?

They are the right people to see for minor health concerns such as:

  • Sore throats
  • Coughs, colds and flu
  • Tummy troubles
  • Aches and pains
  • Red eyes
  • Sleeping problems
  • Athlete's foot
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Constipation and diarrhoea

You can talk to the pharmacist or pharmacy technician in your local pharmacy. Most people live within easy reach of one, and with many now offering longer open hours, it's easier to get the help and advice you need, without having to book an appointment.

 


NHS 111

Think you need medical help right now? Go straight to NHS 111, which is available on the phone and online. NHS 111 online is conveniently accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

NHS 111 is there for when you need medical help fast but it is not a life threatening emergency.


How NHS 111 works:

You will be asked questions about your symptoms on the website or by speaking to a trained adviser on the phone. Depending on the situation, you will then:

  • Find out what local services can help you
  • Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  • Get a face to face appointment if you need one
  • Be told how to get any medicine you may need
  • Get self-care advice

 

Medicine Cabinet

Most common winter ailments, such as a cold, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or earache, can't be treated with antibiotics.

The best thing to do is:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up
  • Talk to your pharmacist for advice on getting any pain relief you need such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.


What should I keep in my medicine cabinet at home?

Medicine or first aid

What it's used for

Paracetamol or Ibuprofen

Effective at relieving most minor aches and pains such as headaches period pain, inflammation in arthritis and sprains
   

Oral rehydration solution

Fever, diarrhoea and vomiting make us lose water and essential minerals, and can lead to dehydration. If you have these symptoms and can't continue your normal diet, oral rehydration salts can help to restore your body's natural balance of minerals and fluid and relieve discomfort and tiredness. They don't fight the underlying cause of your illness, such as a virus or bacteria.
   
Antacids (comes in chewable tablets, or tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form) We normally over indulge during the festive period and this can bring stomach ache, heartburn or trapped wind. A simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief.
   

First aid kit:

  • Bandages
  • Plasters
  • Thermometer
  • Antiseptic Eyewash solution
  • Sterile dressings
  • Medical tape
  • Tweezers

These are some of the main items that should be in your first aid kit. If you have small children - you should keep a thermometer and children's paracetamol handy, and take with you if you take trips or breaks away.

 

   

 If you have any queries, your local pharmacist can advise you further on which medicines you should have in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season.

 Make sure you have repeat prescriptions

If you or someone your care for requires medicines regularly, make sure you order and collect repeat prescriptions in good time to ensure you or your family have enough medicine to last over the festive period and bank holidays.​​ 

 

Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives

Check on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or breathing (respiratory) problems, to make sure they:

  • are safe and well

  • are warm enough, especially at night

  • have stocks of food and medicines so they do not need to go out during very cold weather

  • If you're worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact your local council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1602 (8am to 7pm every day).

  • If you're concerned that the person may be suffering from hypothermia, contact NHS 111.


Keep your home warm 

Follow these tips to keep you and your family warm and well at home:

  • if you're not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18C

  • keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and keep bedroom window closed

  • if you're under 65, healthy and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18C, as long as you're comfortable

  • use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed – but do not use both at the same time
  • have at least 1 hot meal a day – eating regularly helps keep you warm have hot drinks regularly to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16C and 20C

  • draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts

  • get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional



Local support

Action Surrey provide information and advice on how to keep a home warm and any grants that may be available for replacement boilers and insulation.

You may be eligible for some payments available from the government, such as the winter fuel payment and cold weather payment.

Age UK Surrey provide information to help people stay safe, warm and well in the winter. This includes money saving tips and further advice on benefits and grants, advocacy and counselling.

 

 

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Help Us Help You

NHS – Help US Help You

  • Seek the urgent advice you need
  • Get the right treatment as soon as possible
  • Protect you and your family from future illness
  • Access the right healthcare in a safeway


The NHS is still here for you – make sure you receive the right care when and where you need it

Despite current social distancing measures, your local NHS is here for you. Don’t put off seeking urgent treatment or advice from your Doctor, Midwife or other care expert when you are feeling unwell or worried about a new or existing condition – your health is still important to us and there are a range of services available.

Seeking medical help is one of the four reasons that people can safely leave home, in line with current government guidance. Every care setting including hospitals and GP practices now have robust measures in place to keep you and your family safe during face to face appointments. Please only attend these appointments if you have been advised to do so and you and your family members are not showing any signs of COVID symptoms.

 

Urgent Care

For any urgent concerns on new symptoms, contact your GP who can assess you over the phone and arrange an appointment if necessary. Seeking urgent advice on chest pain or signs of a stroke is absolutely vital. If you suspect you or a family member is suffering from tightening chest pains or stoke symptoms dial 999 immediately. For ongoing cancer treatment, when advised to do so, please attend your regular appointments and screenings to ensure you receive the right care as soon as possible.

 

New & Expectant Mums

For new and expectant mothers, your regular antenatal appointments are really important to monitor the health of you and your baby. Your local midwifery team will be in touch to advise you if your appointment will be carried out over the phone or face to face, and the team will always ensure there are safe measures in place to meet social distancing guidelines.

Visit your local hospital’s maternity page for up to date guidance on maternity services:

Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust

Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals Trust

Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust

Surrey & Sussex Healthcare Trust

For women under the care of Royal Surrey County Hospital, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals and Epsom and St Helier Hospitals, the Surrey Heartlands Pregnancy Advice Line provides pregnant women access to advice and support from a midwife 24 hours day, 7 days a week. Call 0300 123 5473 with any concerns you may have.

 

Routine Vaccinations

Regular immunisations such as the MMR vaccination are vital in protecting you and your family against preventable, potentially deadly diseases and should not be delayed. Your GP practice can advise on re-scheduling your appointment, and attending in a safe way. Visit nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations for further advice on the different routine vaccinations available.

 
Mental Health

The current social distancing measures in place to tackle COVID-19 can cause enormous anxiety for many people, even if you haven’t previously suffered. It’s really important that you seek support as soon as possible – there are a number of Surrey services which can offer emotional wellbeing and mental health support. Visit https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/mental-wellbeing for more information.

If you already suffer from anxiety, stress or are receiving ongoing support for your mental health, your key workers and support systems are still here for you. Please continue to seek help in the same way you did before social distancing measures were put in place - the way your support is delivered may be slightly different but the level of support remains unchanged.

Those who are unable to access online services, can continue to seek emotional wellbeing support through a free, 24 hour, 7 day a week confidential helpline on 0808 802 5000 (in high demand periods, an answerphone service may be in place) or by SMS Text 07537 432411 (staffed Monday to Friday 9am-2pm).

For people experiencing a mental health crisis, please telephone 0800 915 4644 (24 hours, 7 days a week). If you have speech or hearing difficulties, you can contact the helpline through SMS 07717 989024, Next Generation text service. Dial 18001 0800 915 4644 from your text phone or smart app.

For non-urgent medical advice, please visit 111 online.

For queries and concerns relating to COIVD-19, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

 

 

Antibiotic Awareness

Keep Antibiotics Working

Public Health England warns of the risks of taking antibiotics when you don’t need to as it puts you and your family at risk of more severe or longer illness.

To help keep antibiotics working you are urged to always take your doctor or nurse’s advice on their use.

It is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections. This figure is set to rise, with experts predicting that in just over 30 years, antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.

Antibiotics help ward off infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery. They also treat serious bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, but they are being used for everyday viral infections, such as colds or flu, where they are not effective. Taking antibiotics encourage bacteria that live inside you to adapt and become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them and you are more likely to get an antibiotic resistant infection.

This risk is even greater for children who have taken antibiotics. Public Health England are calling for the public to play their part in tackling the antibiotic resistance epidemic by trusting their doctor or nurse’s advice as to when they need antibiotics and if they are prescribed, taking antibiotics as directed and never saving them for later use or sharing with others.

For further information on antibiotic resistance search for NHS antibiotics.

 

Summer Wellness

Summer Wellness

Many of us look forward to warmer weather in the summer months, but when it’s hot for longer periods – or we face more extreme temperatures, it can pose a risk to our health. Read our top tips for keeping healthy and well this summer.


Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is one of the main health risks during hot weather. Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in. If it’s not treated, it can get worse and become a serious problem.

Symptoms of dehydration in adults and children include:

  • feeling thirsty
  • dark yellow and strong-smelling pee
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling tired
  • a dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day

To reduce the risk of dehydration:

  • Drink fluids when you feel any dehydration symptoms.
  • If you find it hard to drink because you feel sick or have been sick, start with small sips and then gradually drink more.
  • You can use a spoon to make it easier for your child to swallow the fluids.
  • You should drink enough during the day so your pee is a pale clear colour.
  • Drink when there's a higher risk of dehydrating - for example, if you're vomiting, sweating or you have diarrhoea

If you're being sick or have diarrhoea and are losing too much fluid, you need to put back the sugar, salts and minerals that your body has lost. Your pharmacist can recommend oral rehydration sachets. These are powders that you mix with water and then drink. Ask your pharmacist which ones are right for you or your child.

 

Stay Protected from the Sun

Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October.

Make sure you:

  • spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
  • never burn
  • cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
  • take extra care with children
  • use at least factor 30 sunscreen

 

Bugs and Bites

Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days, but occasionally they can become infected, cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Bugs that bite or sting include wasps, hornets, bees, horseflies, ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs, spiders and midges.

To treat an insect bite or sting:

  • remove the sting or tick if it's still in the skin
  • wash the affected area with soap and water
  • apply a cold compress (such as a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water) or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes
  • raise or elevate the affected area if possible, as this can help reduce swelling
  • avoid scratching the area, to reduce the risk of infection
  • avoid traditional home remedies, such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, as they're unlikely to help

Ask your pharmacist about medicines that can help, such as painkillers, creams for itching and antihistamines. If your symptoms do not start to improve within a few days or are getting worse, call NHS 111 who can advise what to do and refer you to the most relevant service.

 

Heatwave Advice

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  • not having enough water (dehydration)
  • overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
  • heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Who's most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

  • older people, especially those over 75
  • babies and young children
  • people with a serious long-term condition, especially heart or breathing problems
  • people with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people on certain medicines, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
  • people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports

Tips for coping in hot weather:

  • Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.
  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this is not possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping.
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Water, lower-fat milks and tea and coffee are good options.
  • If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf.
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.

 

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