Cheshire East Council and its partners are offering a range of advice and support to residents on how to keep warm, well and safe this winter.
This week, we urge residents to make sure they access the right health services for their needs.
During the winter months, health services can become overwhelmed through greatly increased demand.
To help limit the impact, especially throughout the holiday period, it’s important that you are aware of which service is right for you at a given time.
Firstly if you start to feel unwell, even if it is just a cough or cold, don’t wait until it gets more serious – get help from your pharmacist. Your pharmacist can give you advice for many common minor illnesses, such as diarrhoea, minor infections, headache, travel advice or sore throats, so should be your first port of call.
Aside of your local pharmacy, here’s our advice on which services to access in a particular situation:
● Call NHS 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation. You can also call NHS 111 if you're not sure which NHS service you need;
● Use the Macclesfield-based GP Out-of-Hours Service which provides assessment, advice and treatment for urgent healthcare problems that cannot safely wait until the next time GP surgeries are open. The service can be accessed via NHS 111;
● Call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk;
● Make an appointment with your GP if you are feeling unwell and it is not an emergency.
It’s important to plan ahead and be organised. If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or other medication, don’t forget to pick up your prescription before the Christmas holidays start, as many GP surgeries and pharmacies will be closed during that time.
There are however a few local pharmacies that will be open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Check the list by visiting http://www.southcheshireccg.nhs.uk/news_items/13207-christmas-and-new-year-pharmacy-opening-hours
Make sure you also speak to your pharmacist about medicines you should have in stock to help get you and your family through the winter season. Also check to see if older neighbours, relatives and friends have the medication they need.
Remember, if you do need help over the holiday period, when your GP surgery is closed and it’s not serious or life threatening, call NHS 111 or visit: www.nhs.uk, where you can be directed to a local service that is open.
Councillor Liz Wardlaw, cabinet member for health at Cheshire East Council, said: “Residents have a range of services they can access if they feel unwell or need advice during winter. But it’s important that the services they do access are appropriate to their needs.
“You can do your part in helping to take the strain off health services by stocking up on medication before the Christmas holidays, keeping an eye on vulnerable members of the community and ensuring you get help and advice as soon as you start to feel unwell.”
For further winter wellbeing advice, visit: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell and scroll down to the winter wellbeing section. Advice can also be found on the council’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/cheshireeastcouncil and on Twitter at: @CheshireEast
Residents can help friends and neighbours, who do not have internet access, by downloading and printing off information from the website and giving it to them.