A&E wait times winter

How You Can Help Relieve Pressure On The NHS This Winter

It’s no secret that there’s enormous pressure on the NHS, and with winter well and truly here, it’s only a matter of time before there are further demands on our health services. To help relieve this pressure and to ensure that our health services are available to those truly in need, we can all do our bit. There are plenty of ways in which we can help ourselves and those around us this winter, as well as plenty of resources to provide you with the information you need.

Self care and why it’s important

One of the NHS’s biggest campaigns of the year has been around self care, with the aim of encouraging people to look after themselves and rely less on their doctors. Many common conditions such as colds and flu can be treated easily at home or with the help of the pharmacist, putting less pressure on GPs and hospitals ensuring those who need urgent care are able to receive it. Self care is not only important for your own health and wellbeing, but also for those around you such as your children and relatives to ensure that everyone stays happy and healthy this winter.

What you can do

There are plenty of easy to follow tips which can help you to do your bit to look after your health and relieve pressure on the NHS, including:

  • Get a flu jab: if you’re pregnant, aged 65 and over or have a serious medical condition, you are considered to be ‘at risk’ and should get your flu jab. This can prevent the flu virus and the complications it brings with it for vulnerable people, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
  • If you’re ill, stay at home: Colds and flu can spread easily, particular in environments such as schools and offices. If you’re suffering, the best thing you can do is to stay at home until you feel better, and hopefully save others from picking up your illness. You may also want to invest in hand sanitisers and desk wipes to help keep germs at bay.
  • Visit your pharmacist first: If you have a cold or flu, speak to your pharmacist before you make an appointment with the doctor. They will be able to advise you on the best way to treat your illness and help you to buy the right medication, helping you to get yourself better in a few days, rather than relying on your doctor for unnecessary antibiotics. If your condition fails to improve however, make sure you visit a doctor.
  • Exercise: don’t skip the exercise just because it’s winter. Exercising could help to boost your immune system, keep you energised as well as helping you to maintain your body weight. If you’re not a fan of exercising outdoors, there are plenty of ways in which you can work out indoors in the warm.
  • Keep warm: It’s important that we all stay warm over the winter months to prevent viruses and other conditions which tend to take more of a hold at this time of year. Keep your home heated, dress in warm clothes when you leave the house and most importantly, keep an eye on elderly relatives and neighbours to ensure that they are keeping their homes warm and offer them help if you think they are particularly vulnerable.
  • Eat well: It’s tempting to gorge on treats and unhealthy foods over the winter, but it’s important you maintain a balanced diet packed with nutrients and vitamins. Eating home-cooked, non-processed foods with plenty of fruit and vegetables will provide your body with what it needs to stay healthy.
  • Drink less: A&E units can be inundated with people who’ve overdone things during the Christmas festivities, which can increase wait times significantly for those in need. Drink in moderation and ensure that you have plenty of water or soft drinks during a night out to lessen the effects of alcohol and your need to go to hospital.

Through educating ourselves on our health and wellbeing, we can all take steps to ensure a safe and healthy winter. The Self Care Forum’s website is packed full of information about looking after your health, as well as some minor ailment fact sheets which are great to print off ready for when you need them. Be sensible with your health and listen to your body to ensure that we all do what we can to relieve pressure on the NHS this winter. You can also get involved with the conversation on social media by following #StayWellThisWinter.