Calling all Doncaster folk: Help us help you stay well this winter
Today sees the launch of Doncaster’s Borough wide winter campaign to help people in Doncaster stay as well as they possibly can during the cold winter months.
This year’s campaign primarily focuses on four key areas to support people to stay well, taking control over their own health and providing a number of options to enable people to choose the right services for their health and care needs.
Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Doncaster Council and Age UK Doncaster have joined forces to reinforce the importance of looking after yourself and others this winter in attempt to spread these important messages far and wide.
The campaign, ‘Help us help you – stay well this winter’ aligns with the national NHS campaign, providing information, advice and guidance for people at a local level.
The campaign – focus and messaging
Cold weather can be seriously bad for your health. That’s why it’s important to look after yourself, especially during the cold winter months. If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s a cough or a cold, don’t wait until it gets more serious. Seek advice from your pharmacist.
Seasonal coughs and colds are very common during the winter period. You can ask your pharmacist what medicines should be in your cabinet and how to help you and your family get through the winter season.
Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as cold, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache). You can always seek advice at the first sign of a cough or cold before it gets more serious.
At this time of the year, flu is a common virus that spreads rapidly. Doncaster’s winter campaign places a focus on flu, particularly the importance of getting a flu jab if you have a long term health condition or if you are over 65.
For many people, a bout of flu makes you feel miserable but it’s not a serious illness. If you are generally healthy, you will usually recover from it within a week. But some people are more at risk of developing potentially serious health problems from flu, such as bronchitis, pneumonia and sometimes death.
Dr David Crichton, Chair of NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group said: “A flu jab not only helps protect you from the virus, it will also help protect your family and friends. Many people don’t have any side effects – some may develop a cold or slight temperature but this should settle without treatment in a couple of days.
“This year, there are three forms of the flu vaccine; nasal drops for young children, and the usual jab for those under 65 years of age. For those over 65, there’s a new more effective version of the jab. I would encourage everyone who is eligible for the flu jab to have one – visit your local GP or pharmacist.”
During the winter months and particularly over the Christmas and New Year period, we see an increase in the number of people requesting urgent repeat medication.
If you take regular prescribed medication, it is important to ensure you have enough in case you cannot leave your home – either due to the weather or in case you don’t feel well
In the event that you do run out of prescribed medication, please contact your local pharmacist or NHS 111 who should be able to assist with an emergency supply.
Nick Hunter, Professional Secretary, Doncaster Local Pharmaceutical Committee said: “I am delighted that this year’s campaign focuses on the importance of making sure that people have enough medication – not only for when it is cold but particularly during the Christmas and new year holiday period.
“Even if you don’t take regular prescribed medication from your GP, it is best to be prepared with essential medicines and supplies in case you get ill. Useful items can include ibuprofen, paracetamol, plasters, thermometer and antiseptic creams.”
In true Doncaster spirit, the campaign also seeks to bring people together to look out for each other, particularly older and vulnerable people.
Every winter, we see an increase in the number of people needing to be admitted to hospital. Among older people and the most vulnerable, minor respiratory illness, such as the common cold, can prompt care needs that impact on their frailty and those with existing chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or COPD are particularly vulnerable.
Cold weather and viral infections such as the flu often leads to deterioration with older patients needing more care and support than usual.
If you know someone who is frail or elderly or has an existing health problem and they are feeling unwell, encourage them to seek early advice, go to their local pharmacy or phone your GP practice before the issue escalates and they end up in hospital.
Heather Boyce, Chief Executive for Age UK Doncaster said: “It is particularly important to look out for older and vulnerable people during the cold winter months. In many cases, a lot of older people live on their own and don’t always have regular visitors that can keep an eye on their general health and wellbeing.
“Age UK Doncaster host a range of volunteer programmes all year round to provide support to elderly and vulnerable people to help keep their independence and prevent social isolation. The support our volunteers bring during the winter is crucial – they provide social contact and interaction for older people, but they can, in many cases be that trigger to encourage them seek health advice to prevent illness from getting worse.
“If you would like to get involved in this important local service, please do visit the Age UK Doncaster website.”
Dr Rupert Suckling, Director of Public Health at Doncaster Council, said: “It’s important that everyone looks out for themselves and loved ones all year round, but especially during the colder winter months.
“By taking simple steps such as helping out elderly family or neighbours, wearing more layers to keep warm, keeping our homes heated to at least 18°C and being prepared for colder weather by ensuring repeat prescriptions are arranged in advance, we can help each other to stay safe. Doncaster is lucky to have a wide range of community pharmacies which should be our first port of call for health advice and treatment.”
Finally, it is also important to encourage people to use the service that is right for their health and care needs. During the winter, hospitals and A&E departments can get very busy – so visiting your GP, pharmacist or other community service can make all the difference in making sure that hospitals can treat those with serious conditions or injuries.
David Purdue, Chief Operating Officer at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust said: “During the cold winter months, our emergency departments can get very busy. Adverse weather conditions can lead to accidents and cause complications with existing health conditions, so it’s important that we make the best use of available health services, only attending A&E when it is absolutely necessary and keeping these emergency services free for those who need it most.
“Earlier this year, a survey of our local communities revealed that some people in Doncaster choose to use A&E for minor conditions that could be treated elsewhere. By opting to attend a minor injuries unit, a GP or a pharmacy instead, you could free up resources in the emergency department to offer life-saving treatment for serious conditions.”
The campaign will run until the middle of January 2019, using a range of channels such as social media, video, facebook, radio, online advertising, posters and leaflets.
For more information about the campaign, visit www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk/winter, get involved in the conversations on twitter, using the hashtag #doncasterwinter18 or like us on facebook @nhsdoncasterccg.