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Services in Bracknell Forest prepare for winter

Ill person on a sofa

The NHS and Bracknell Forest Council are gearing up to help people stay well this winter and to manage the extra pressure on services that the cold weather brings.

Hospitals, GP surgeries, pharmacies, community health and social care services are working together to keep people well at home and to quickly and effectively treat those that do need emergency care.

The NHS “Stay Well This Winter” campaign is advising the public about how to ward off common winter illnesses before they become more serious and a hospital stay is needed.

Dr Jim O’Donnell, a clinical chair within East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said:

Winter is always a challenging time of year for health services and this year will be no exception. However, we have plans in place to help manage any additional demand.

We have been planning where extra resources are needed over winter. Targeted schemes include preventing admissions to hospital by ensuring people at risk are looked after in their homes and quickly get the specialist care they need. They also include helping people leave hospital when they are ready to go home, minimising delays to discharge.

Dr Jim O’Donnell added:

I would urge people to help us to help themselves by taking some simple steps to stay well this winter and to use the most appropriate service if they do become unwell. Please call NHS 111 unless it is life threatening or very serious.

With an ever growing and ageing population, the NHS is seeing and treating more people than ever. In winter months, flu, norovirus, and respiratory problems means many frail and vulnerable people get sicker. This leads to more people being admitted in an emergency which has a big impact on hospitals.

Cllr Dale Birch, executive member for adult services, health and housing, said:

Winter is really with us now so it’s time to take those basic steps to stay fit and well, whether you’re young or old and when you’re out and about.

For older residents, it is vital you keep fit, mobile and warm and it is important you ensure you eat well, take care of yourself and remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. A good way of ensuring your home stays warm is to improve the insulation; you can contact the council for advice on this.

Local health and care services and the voluntary sector are all working together to help you to stay in your own home and out of hospital this winter. You can protect yourself now by getting a flu jab which is so easy to do, just ask your GP or local pharmacist. It is also important to ensure you know which service to call first if you do fall ill, this will help to ease the pressure on our emergency services. I’d like to ask all residents to look out for their older neighbours as temperatures drop, a little help with simple tasks like picking up a prescription can make such a difference.

Here are some simple steps to help you and your loved ones stay well this winter:

  • vaccinate yourself and your family, particularly those in at-risk groups, against flu. It is important that pregnant women, children aged 2 and 3 and in reception to year 4 have the vaccine to protect themselves and the wider community. Flu hospitalises thousands of people a year
  • as soon as you feel unwell with a cough or cold, seek advice from your local pharmacist before it gets too serious
  • to reduce the risk of spreading your cold: wash your hands often with warm water and soap, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze and bin used tissues as quickly as possible
  • stock up your medicines cabinet with your usual painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, cold and flu remedies, anti-diarrhoea medicine, oral rehydration salts and tissues. Don’t forget a thermometer!
  • if you are ill, call the non-emergency NHS 111 helpline which can provide you will health advice and advise you on the best service for your needs
  • keep as warm as you can and if possible maintain rooms at 18°c
  • if your child is unwell check Child Health Slough or call the NHS 111 helpline

You can also help the elderly in your communities, who are often isolated and can be slow to seek help, by:

  • getting to know your elderly neighbours
  • helping them keep warm and fed
  • encouraging them to keep mobile
  • helping with shopping and home tasks
  • taking them to shops, GP or the local pharmacy to pick up medications or get their flu jab
  • watching for illness and help them seek help early
  • checking on them in bad weather

The NHS is developing long-term plans to dramatically increase out-of-hospital care, including:

  • offering more patients better access to GPs, including evening and weekend appointments, email access and Skype consultations
  • joining up health and social care services to personalise elderly and vulnerable care
  • offering more tests and treatments closer to people’s homes, avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital
  • identifying frail older people who need extra support and help

Further information on the availability of local services in Bracknell Forest is available from the Bracknell and Ascot CCG.