Help ease the burden on the NHS this winter

It has recently been reported that the NHS will struggle to cope in the coming months with the influx of winter related ailments. Health officials are drawing up contingency measures to attempt to safeguard emergency care by diverting senior doctors from operating theatres into wards and Accident & Emergency departments as winter sets in. 

Each hospital trust has been ordered to draw up specific plans to cope this winter, with new “A&E delivery boards” to be set up. The plans will see the cancellation of thousands of operations and appointments in the run-up to Christmas, with senior doctors asked to concentrate on discharging any patients who can safely be sent home, in a bid to free up beds.

The NHS has pulled out all the stops to prepare for this winter.  They are determined to protect the good standards of service.

As a result, planning started earlier than ever before with hospitals, GPs, social services and other health professionals coming together to work out the best way of responding in every area of the country.

It is important the public know what they need to do to keep well, and advice on how to keep well, and where to get expert advice will be given throughout the winter and can be found on their stay well this winter website 

If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s a cough or a cold, you don’t need to wait for it to become more serious. You can chat to your pharmacist for advice and over the counter medication. 

Some simple home remedies can help:

Firstly, stay warm. The house should be heated to at least 18 degrees, wear clothes in layers to trap warm air between them, and stay active, moving every half hour.

Drink plenty of fluids, this helps keep you hydrated and thins the mucus, making it easier to clear. Water, warm honey and lemon, and light soups are ideal. 

Try nature’s antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Garlic, turmeric and ginger have natural bug fighting properties. 

Increase your vitamins and minerals. Ensure you are eating a healthy, well balanced diet, including your 5-a-day fruit and veg, and ‘eating the rainbow’ by adding lots of colourful food to your plate! Ensure you are getting lots of Zinc, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin C, either through your diet or as supplements. 

For musculo-skeletal aches and pains, headaches and digestive problems you don’t need to visit your GP. You can go straight to your Osteopath as they will be able to effectively triage your symptoms and decide what treatment is most appropriate.

For acute aches and pains and recent injury, you can use the RICE advice. Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate the injured area. Great advice if you have a minor injury with swelling, and you can also ask your pharmacist for anti-inflammatories. 

For chronic pain that has been going on for more than three months, you can use warm packs and gentle movement to stimulate the circulation and relieve stiffness. Try breathing and relaxation techniques, to help you feel more in control and improve your sleep.

For more specific advice relevant to you, treatment, exercise and lifestyle recommendations, you can call us anytime and also check our availability online. 

Help ease the burden on the NHS this winter and use self-help techniques at home, visit your pharmacist or speak to your Osteopath.

Don’t forget you can also use the NHS non-emergency number 111. Call 111 and speak to a highly trained adviser, supported by healthcare professionals. They will ask you a series of questions to assess your symptoms and immediately direct you to the best medical care for you. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Keep warm and healthy this Christmas.

Emma Wightman

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