This article is from 2 December 2020 – the situation may change with time.
With temperatures set to plummet this weekend, it’s an ideal time for residents of all ages across Oxfordshire to firm up personal winter health and care plans and be prepared in case you become unwell with a cough, cold, or the flu.
Icy mornings could make way for snow so the whole Oxfordshire health and social care system is calling on every person in the county to take action for their own wellbeing and encourage friends, family, and loved ones to do the same.
From making sure you have simple cough and cold remedies, having a flu jab to protect yourself from the influenza virus – especially important for pregnant women and those with long term health conditions – to keeping warm and looking after both your mental and physical wellbeing; these are the simple steps to take now.
If you do fall ill, advice from your local pharmacist or NHS 111 can help. NHS 111 can now be accessed online via a mobile phone, tablet or laptop to get advice even more quickly.
If you need some help or advice with your mental wellbeing, you can contact Oxfordshire’s free 24-7 helpline on 0800 783 0119.
Dr Kiren Collison, Clinical Chair of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Having a personal winter plan might include making sure you have cold and flu medicines ready at home just in case you start to feel ill and that you have the prescriptions you need especially over Christmas and New Year.
“It is also important to have your flu jab –to keep both you and those around you safe. This is especially important for people over 65, people with long-term health conditions like diabetes and asthma, pregnant women, people living with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and children. Flu can be unpleasant for most of us, but it can be much more severe in some people.”
Sam Foster Chief Nursing Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “COVID-19 means that this year looks very different – it’s even more important that people have a winter plan, look after themselves and stay healthy, and if they do need help, to use healthcare services in the most appropriate way.
“Emergency Departments are for genuinely life-threatening conditions – if you need medical help but it’s not urgent, then your local pharmacy, minor injuries unit, or GP will be best-placed to help you. If you are unsure where to go for help, contact NHS 111 who can provide advice and direct you to the best place for the care you need, and can book you into our Emergency Departments if that’s what is needed.”
Pete McGrane, Clinical Director at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There is a direct link between our physical and mental health. We know that this year has had a significant impact on people’s physical and mental well-being, and people may continue to feel the impact of this as we move into winter.
“It’s important we take a moment to support frail and vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours and get help for our mental health – just like we would for our physical health.”
Personal winter plans should include:
• Having a free NHS flu vaccination if you are eligible
• Getting help early before your condition worsens
• Getting repeat prescriptions in plenty of time before bank holidays
• Finding out where your local minor injuries unit is located
• Seeking advice from your local pharmacist
• Having cold and flu remedies at home
• Making sure you have enough food in your house
• Getting your boiler serviced
• Keeping your home heated to 18C
• Having a list of emergency phone numbers handy by your phone
• Keeping an eye on elderly or frail friends, neighbours, and relatives
GP practices will continue to contact those patients eligible for the free flu jab to attend vaccination clinics which are taking place over the next few months in Oxfordshire.
People can read the Public Health England leaflet ‘Keep Warm Keep Well’ which gives advice on staying well in cold weather and covers issues such as financial help, healthy lifestyle, flu jabs and heating.
If people are worried about a medical concern over the winter period, they are advised to contact NHS 111 to speak to fully trained advisors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have access to relevant healthcare professionals, including nurses, emergency dentists, or GPs, depending on the situation.
For more information about the flu vaccination, visit the NHS website.
For more information about how to stay warm and council services in Oxfordshire this winter, visit the Oxfordshire County Council website.
For more information on NHS 111 First, visit the OUH website.