Tips on how to stay well this winter and access the most appropriate services for you

There are many NHS service options that you can choose from if you or a family member fall ill this winter – from support from the NHS 111 service to walk in centres and of course A&E.

The majority of colds and flu like illnesses will be over in a few days and your pharmacist can help you manage the symptoms and give you practical advice.  Pharmacies offer a wide range of services; many also have private consultation rooms if you would like to speak in confidence.  Remember to take prescribed medicines as directed and pick up any prescription medicines before Christmas Eve.  It’s never pleasant falling ill, especially over Christmas and the new year, but there are a number of pharmacies in Kirklees open on the bank holidays and these can be found here.

Don’t forget that the flu vaccination is offered free of charge to people who are at risk, pregnant women, carers and some young children to ensure that they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.

Winter, and the build up to the festive season is a busy time of year and it is very easy, when you are ill or dealing with someone who is ill to call the number everyone remembers: 999, but there is a very important alternative with NHS 111.

NHS 111 makes it easier for you to access local NHS healthcare services in England. You can call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help; it is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

The simple rules are call 111 if:

  • you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency
  • you think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service
  • you don’t know who to call or you don’t have a GP to call
  • you need health information or reassurance about what to do next

There is also a walk in centre based in the emergency department of Dewsbury and District Hospital which is open 9am to 8pm (Mon-Fri) and 10am to 6pm (weekends & bank holidays), which can provide medical support and advice to anyone who comes through the door.

You can also be prepared by making sure you have plenty of medical supplies in the house, for example some simple pain-killers, a paediatric paracetamol mixture for children and an adequate supply of any regular medications you or your family are being prescribed by your doctor.

It’s also really important that we do what we can to help others stay well. Older people make up the largest group admitted to hospital in the winter.  Half live alone and one third never or only occasionally socialise with family or friends.  They can sometimes delay asking for help when they become unwell and so become more ill as a result.

The NHS website contains information from the NHS on conditions, treatments, local services and healthy living and can be accessed at www.nhs.uk .  A dedicated website has also been set up as part of the national Stay Well This Winter campaign – visit www.nhs.uk/staywell/  for more information.  Kirklees Council also has a dedicated area on their website which provides a wealth of information to help you prepare for the colder weather www.kirklees.gov.uk/winter

We hope that you enjoy a happy – and above all healthy – Christmas and New Year.

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