As the cold weather is starting to grip the Fylde coast, health services have already been working to help make sure patients are cared for.
Winter is a difficult time for the NHS and this year could be one of the busiest we have ever seen as we battle COVID-19 as well as the annual increase of demand on health services which comes with the cold weather.
People are at increased risk of slipping and falling on the ice or wet leaves. There is also the threat of Flu and Norovirus which spreads rapidly. At this time of year heart and lung conditions can be made worse due to the cold.
On the Fylde Coast the army of health care professionals are working above and beyond to make sure patients get the best possible care and are encouraged to see the right person for their condition. Behind the scenes services are taking innovative approaches to avoid hospital admissions and to reduce the amount of time patients stay in hospital.
For our residents, the best way we can make sure services don’t get overwhelmed is to make sure people do what they can to care for themselves. Below you will find information of what people can do on the Fylde Coast to protect themselves and stay healthy this winter. For more information from the NHS England click here.
1. Get a Flu Vaccination
Flu is a serious condition that kills on average 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises tens of thousands more. But this is anything but an average year. Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from COVID-19 and the free vaccine is more important than ever, to help protect the nation from a double threat this winter.
The flu vaccination is the best protection for you and those around you which is why it is offered for free for those most at risk. And this year, the programme has been expanded and the free flu vaccine will be offered to a record number of 30 million people to help protect as many as possible from flu and ease pressure on the NHS and urgent care services.
2. Self-care so you don't need health services
Self care is about keeping fit and healthy, understanding when you can look after yourself, when a pharmacist can help, and when to get advice from your GP or another health professional. If you have a long-term condition, self-care is about understanding that condition and how to live with it.
Some of the most common ailments can be treated simply with over the counter medications and advice from your pharmacy.
We are once again taking part in Self Care week 2020 and have asked people to share their own self care tips. You can get involved too!
Click here for more information on our self care week 2020 campaign
3. Manage your long term conditions
People with respiratory diseases (conditions that cause breathing problems), such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or severe asthma, can be particularly prone to the effects of cold weather, becoming short of breath and coughing more than usual.
Christopher Jackson, Clinical Lead & Respiratory Nurse Specialist at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is essential that those who have a long-term respiratory condition to understand how to look after themselves, activate their self-management plan and where and when they must seek further advice or support. Even more so because of COVID-19.”
“People with respiratory conditions must ensure they have a supply of their inhalers and they are using them correctly. Those whose condition could get worse should have access to ‘rescue medication’ and review this with a health care professional.”
4. Use the right service for your need
There are lots of health services on the Fylde Coast that you can access. Some of which you might not have thought of.
You should always start by thinking about your local community pharmacist and whether over the counter medicines could help. Your pharmacist is well trained on all medication and can advise you of the best one for your minor health need.
If your condition is persistent and is something you are concerned about then you should make an appointment with your GP. GP practices in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre are open to patients and continue to provide services, as they have done throughout the pandemic (Click here for more information on how they are working).
Don’t forget you can also request an appointment in the evenings and at weekends using the 8 til L8 service. Click here to find out more about this.
For more urgent health needs you should call 111 first.
If your condition is life-threatening you should call 999.
Here are some more handy tips for staying well over winter: