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Help us help you - stay well this winter

Stay well this winter

We can all take small simple steps to look after our health and of others this winter, this includes keeping warm, eating well and checking up on vulnerable neighbours. By looking after yourself and others, you really will be helping your NHS.

Stay well over Christmas and New Year

Now that the festive period is in full swing Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is advising patients that if they become unwell over the holidays, pharmacies will be open over Christmas and New Year.

While some of the region’s GP surgeries will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, some pharmacies will be open and are the place to go for treatment and advice on common illnesses and ailments, including colds, flu, and minor rashes.

Find out the opening times of your nearest pharmacy here.

To help we’ve put together some information on how you can stay well this winter, including information on:

  • The flu vaccine
  • Norovirus (winter vomiting bug)
  • Self-care
  • Keeping a medical cabinet at home
  • Looking after your mental wellbeing
  • Which NHS service

It’s important to remember that if you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough, a loss of or change to smell or taste), then you should stay at home and arrange a test.

The flu vaccine

This year we have an expanded NHS flu vaccination program to protect our most vulnerable people, which has seen the number of people eligible for a free flu vaccination almost double that of previous years.

You are eligible for a free flu vaccination if you:

  • are 65 and over (including those who'll be 65 by 31 March 2021)
  • have certain health conditions/ long term health condition (all ages)
  • are pregnant
  • are in a long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer (paid or unpaid) for a person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
  • are a frontline health or social care worker
  • are 50-64 years old (you will be contacted from November)

More information on the 2020 flu vaccination programme in the Vale of York here.

Useful links:

Find your local pharmacy here.

Find out more about the flu vaccine by visiting the NHS website

Norovirus – winter vomiting bug

Norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, is commonly referred to as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ and usually goes away in about two days. It is highly contagious so anyone with the virus should avoid going to hospital or visiting their GP, instead you can call your GP or call NHS 111 if you think you need to see a healthcare professional.

The main symptoms of norovirus are:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • diarrhoea
  • being sick (vomiting)

You may also have:

  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • a headache
  • aching arms and legs

The symptoms start suddenly within 1 to 2 days of being infected.

Stay off school or work until the symptoms have stopped for 2 days. Also avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time as this is when you're most infectious.

Here’s how you can treat diarrhoea and vomiting yourself:

  • Stay at home and get plenty of rest
  • Drink lots of fluid, such as water and squash
  • Eat when you feel able to
  • Take paracetamol if you’re in discomfort

Find out how you can prevent the spreading of the virus, and how to treat diarrhoea and vomiting in children by visiting the NHS website.

It’s important to remember that if you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough, a loss of or change to smell or taste), then you should stay at home and arrange a test.

Self care

Having the knowledge and confidence you need to take better care when you have common ailments such as sore throats and coughs and encouraging healthy lifestyle  will benefit you in the long term. It’s important for those with long-term conditions to learn how to take control of their own health to avoid complications in the future.

Here are some of the ways that you can self care:

  • Keeping a medicine cabinet 
  • Choosing the right NHS service – visit your local pharmacy who can provide expert, confidential advice and treatment. Best of all, there is no need for an appointment and they will be able to help you by offering advice on treating minor ailments and injuries, give advice on medication and whether you need to see your GP.
  • Being more active – is not only great for your general health but also your mental health too. It’s not about running a marathon but instead walking more or using the stairs instead of a lift. 
  • Healthy lifestyle – it’s never too late to switch to a healthier lifestyle and children who learn healthy habits at a young age will benefit from them throughout their life.

While we are encouraging patients to practice self-care where appropriate, it’s important to remember that if you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough, a loss of or change to smell or taste), then you should stay at home and arrange a test.

Useful links:

Stop smoking

Healthy diet

Regular exercise

Keeping a medicine cabinet at home

Don’t let common illnesses and ailments such as coughs, colds, headaches and diarrhoea catch you out over winter. Prepare small quantities of over-the-counter remedies for your medicine cabinet, which should be in a secure space and out of the reach of children.

Here are some essential medicines to help people deal with most minor short term ailments are:

  • Pain relief – paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets are effective painkillers that can help the odd headache, any minor aches or pains (such as a pulled muscle) and ease fever or cold / flu symptoms. Ibuprofen is also an anti-inflammatory. Remember, if you take ibuprofen, take it with, or after, food and not on an empty stomach.
  • Indigestion – for stomach ache, heartburn or trapped wind, antacids will bring relief. They come as chewable tablets, tablets that dissolve in water or in liquid form.
  • Diarrhoea – the anti-diarrhoeal remedy, loperamide, can help control the unpleasant symptoms of diarrhoea. Don’t give anti-diarrhoeal medicine to children under 12 because they may have undesirable side effects. Speak to your GP or pharmacist for advice about a child with these symptoms.
  • Upset stomach and dehydration – oral rehydration salt sachets can help prevent dehydration from bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. They help restore the body’s balance of minerals and fluids.

While we are encouraging patients to ‘Think Pharmacy’, it’s important to remember that if you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough, a loss of or change to smell or taste), then you should stay at home and arrange a test.

Useful links:

NHS website for further information about what you should have in your medicine cabinet.

Looking after your mental wellbeing

It’s important that you look after your mental health and wellbeing through the winter. 

Introduction to psychological therapies (IAPT)

The run up to Christmas is often full of festive cheer and excitement, but for many it can also be a stressful and lonely time. If you’re feeling down you don’t have to feel alone, symptoms of anxiety, depression and emotional distress are more common than you might think and help is available.

Talking Therapies, often known as IAPT, is a service run by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, which offers a range of support and interventions. The service is open to anyone aged 16 or over, registered with a GP practice in York and Selby, who is experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Treatments and therapies vary according to individual needs, but may include a  (virtual) face to face wellbeing course or computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT). TEWV also offer other treatments where appropriate and if IAPT is not the most suitable service for you, you may be signposted to another services or organisations.

If you believe you could benefit from the IAPT support you can contact them directly to discuss a self- referral by visiting https://yorkandselbyiapt.co.uk/ or calling 01904 556840. Alternatively you can make an appointment with your GP to discuss your concerns and if appropriate, your GP can refer you.

Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD)

Season Effective Disorder is sometimes known as the “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter. The shorter days means less sunlight resulting in a lack of melatonin. The body uses melatonin to help wake us up and people who suffer from SAD produce too much of the hormone, causing lethargy and symptoms of depression. Your GP can offer more information, including things like a light box to help you get more light.

The festive season can also be a very stressful time. Anxieties about money and loneliness are just some of the things that can affect individuals.

It’s important to remember that if you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough, a loss of or change to smell or taste), then you should stay at home and arrange a test.

Which NHS service?

A&E is not for anything and everything and should only be used for life threatening or serious illnesses or injuries. If you need medical help fast but it’s not an emergency call NHS 111, a fully trained advisor will assess you and, if appropriate, book you in with the right healthcare professional to give you the support you need.

You can also find out how local services such as GP practices and pharmacies can help you should the weather take its toll. 

While we are encouraging patients to access services when necessary,  it’s important to remember that if you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough, a loss of or change to smell or taste), then you should stay at home and arrange a test.

Winter prescribing

It is important that residents living across North Yorkshire and the Vale of York who are on repeat medication order well in advance of Christmas week to avoid running out over the festive holidays. The following resources are designed to help practices share the key messages around Christmas and New Year prescriptions.

Resources available:

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