FOLLOWING the Met Office issuing a cold weather alert Level 3 affecting the North West from Wednesday 4 January 2017 to Friday 6 January 2017, health chiefs at NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are advising residents to be prepared for this cold weather.
The Level 3 alert means that severe cold weather/icy conditions/heavy snow has hit parts of England. This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services. Help is at hand though, by being prepared, thinking carefully and knowing how to examine your options in West Lancashire.
Dr John Caine, a GP in Parbold and chair at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “We’d like to remind people about the options available to them if they or a member of their family becomes ill.
“The cold weather will put added pressure onto our health services, so it’s really important to examine your options and use the right service.”
“If you do become ill we ask that you think about self-care before seeing your GP, visiting the walk-in centre or dialling 999. Your pharmacist can offer advice and medication for common illnesses without an appointment and the NHS 111 service is available for all non-emergencies.
“We would also advise those who are eligible to have a flu jab to get protected. Whether you are pregnant, have very young children, are an elderly person or have a long-term health condition, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or are a carer; you will be eligible for the vaccination.”
Some of the services are listed below and further information can be found on the Examine Your Options website. These are services which you may be unfamiliar with, but could be more appropriate and convenient for you depending on your specific issue.
When you need medical help or advice fast, but it is not a 999 emergency, you can also call the NHS 111 service. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
If you need medical care for illnesses you cannot treat yourself, then your GP should be your next port of call.
Your Local GP
Your GP should be your first point of contact for non-emergency illnesses that you can’t treat yourself. Your GP is available from 8.00am to 6.30pm weekdays and residents in West Lancashire, can now also see a GP on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm and Sundays from 10am to 2pm at the Sandy Lane Health Centre in Skelmersdale, by simply making an appointment through your usual GP practice.
West Lancashire has two walk-in centres: The West Lancashire Health Centre at Ormskirk Hospital, Wigan Road, Ormskirk, L39 2AZ, which is open from 8am to 7.30pm, seven days a week and the Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre at The Concourse, Skelmersdale, L39 2AZ, which is open from 8am to 7.30pm, Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
The experts in these centres can treat a wide range of illnesses and conditions, like minor infections, rashes, stomach upsets, small cuts and bruises, strains and sprains, coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms and more.
To access help from the walk-in centre, simply walk in and speak to the receptionist. Once you are booked in, you’ll be seen by a triage nurse who’ll decide how urgent your case is and you will be then be seen by a nurse practitioner in priority order.
Your local pharmacy can offer free, confidential and expert advice on a range of health issues. They can also help you to prepare for many common winter illnesses and offer advice on which medicines to keep in stock at home.
You can find a wealth of trusted advice about hundreds of health conditions and details of GPs, pharmacies in your local area by visiting www.nhs.uk. This useful website also includes a handy symptom checker.
Manage your repeat prescriptions and make GP appointments from the comfort of your own home, without having to venture outside, by using the new FREE Patient Access website and smartphone app. Simply search for ‘Patient Access’ in the app store.
Remember though, if using Patient Access for the very first time, you will first have to contact your GP practice so that you can register to use the app, so make sure you are prepared for this and visit your local GP practice as soon as possible.
The Public Health England Cold Weather Plan sets out a series of actions that health and social care organisations, voluntary and community groups, and individuals can take and plan for cold temperatures to help reduce cold-related illnesses and deaths.
Top tips to prepare for colder weather:
- look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold and ensure they have access to warm food, drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately
- try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long term illness or are 65 or over
- stay tuned for weather forecasts, ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance (have deliveries or ask a friend to help)
- take weather into account when planning your activity over the following days
- avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls
- discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from in front of your house and public walkways nearby, if unable to do so yourself