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Help ease the strain on the NHS this Winter with these easy steps

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 | Blog

Each Winter, the NHS finds itself under immense pressure from an increased number of people seeking support and medication. As they days turn colder and the shorter, many of us find ourselves developing colds, coughs and sometimes even the flu. The increase in illness across the UK inevitably brings with it more visits to both local GP surgeries and hospital A&E departments.

Below are a few simple steps you can take rather than going to your local A&E or using a walk-in GP centre.


Want to avoid illness? One of the best ways to avoid catching colds and even the flu is simply  washing your hands more often and more effectively. Proper-handwashing can effectively remove harmful germs better than any other method, so taking a few extra minutes whilst cleaning your hands can really make a difference.


So how do you properly wash your hands? Check out this World Health Organisation video below for the best technique.



Flu jabs 

Flu, whilst unpleasant, isn’t seriously harmful to the majority of the UK population, but it can pose serious consequences for those at risk. Each year the NHS offers free flu jabs to those it considers at risk of the more serious complications. Those who qualify for free flu vaccines include;


  • Individuals who are 65 years old or over   

  • who are pregnant 

  • have certain medical conditions 

  • are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility 

  • receive a carer's allowance, or you're the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill 


If you aren’t sure, contact your local GP practise who will be able to provide more information on your eligibility. 


The number of prescriptions presented by doctors have declined in recent years, but it’s still worth knowing that many prescriptions are available in shops at a fraction of the amount they cost to the NHS. in 2016, it cost the NHS £3.23 per prescription for paracetamol, but it can be purchased for as little as 30p in places like Asda.


If you’ve got a common cold or illness, consider purchasing your own over-the-counter medicine rather than going to the doctor and asking for a prescription. It will not only save the doctor time and the NHS money but it means you will also get your medicine faster. 

Call 111

Launched in 2014, NHS 111 is a non-emergency free-to-call number which puts individuals through to a trained individual who can assess the needs of the person calling. Rather than calling 999, people can call 111 for less critical issues which in turn relieves some of the pressure on emergency call handlers. 


Call handlers for 111 are able to put individuals in touch with clinicians if needed and they are also able to send out an ambulance in the rare case it may be needed. So by calling 111, you still have access to all the services that you would have calling 999.

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