Plan ahead and be prepared – Dr David Crichton

As the winter months are upon us, it’s easy for us to start feeling a little run down sometimes. More time indoors, dark nights, colder weather, worries over Christmas and the uncertainty created by COVID-19 can all have an impact on both our physical and mental health.

Here at Doncaster CCG, we want to support you to keep as well and as healthy as possible over the winter season. Through our #BeWinterWellDN campaign, we will provide information, tips and advice to help you.

Now is a good time to plan ahead and be prepared to deal with common health problems such as colds, bugs and seasonal flu. It’s really important that if you are eligible for a free flu vaccination and you have still haven’t received one, that you go and have it done. Having the flu jab is one of the best things you can do to protect your health and the health of those around you this winter. You can get your flu jab at your local practice or pharmacy. Even if you are not eligible for a free jab, you can pay a small sum to have one and many local pharmacies in Doncaster have waiting lists you can join for when they receive their next vaccination delivery.

There are many over-the-counter medicines that can help to relieve the symptoms of common winter ailments and I would encourage you to ensure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet so you can treat your symptoms at home. Most people suffering from colds and flu will start to feel better in a few days by taking over the counter medicine and by taking on plenty of fluids. Antibiotics do not help get rid of colds and flu.

You can always ask your local pharmacist what medicines should be in your cabinet if you’re unsure what to stock.

Remember these important safety measures regarding medicines:

  • check the expiry dates on any medicines,
  • keep out of the reach/sight of children
  • follow the directions on the packaging

If you take regular prescribed medication, ensure you have enough. There is also a 4 day bank holiday over the Christmas period so planning ahead with your medication is important this year. Make a note in your diary or on your phone to remind you to order your prescription in plenty of time.

Many local practices have online services to enable you to order and manage your prescriptions online as well as to book appointments. Local pharmacies also offer online apps to help you manage your medication, including setting up reminders. I would encourage you to talk to your local practice or pharmacist about these services; it really makes managing your medication easy! You could always ask a friend or relative to help you register for online services if you’re not confident using technology.

I would also like to remind you that health services are open so if you do need to seek medical advice this winter, please come forward. Don’t sit at home worrying about your health. There is a range of services available to help you. GP Practices are open to provide the support and treatment that you need. Visit your local Practice website or give them a call and speak to one of the care navigators. The way services are provided may have changed in order to keep everyone safe but we are there for you.

Other sources of support and advice include:

  • NHS 111 – visit online or call to speak to someone
  • Your local pharmacist
  • Same Day Health Centre which is open 8am-8pm, 7 days a week
  • GP out of hours service
  • The Health Bus is on tour round Doncaster until the end of March next year where anyone registered with a Doncaster GP can walk on and speak face to face with a health professional.
  • NHS Health at home – useful information on how to easily access NHS services online, from the comfort of your home. You can find out how to contact your GP, order repeat prescriptions and manage your wellbeing and existing conditions – without leaving your home.

Let’s get through winter by looking after ourselves and looking after each other. Please follow the guidance and use the right service to help you keep fit and well.


NHS: How to stay well in winter and How to treat coronavirus symptoms at home

Age UK: Stay healthy in winter The flu vaccination winter 2020 to 2021: who should have it and why


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