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Are You Prepared for Colds and Flu this Winter?

People in Manchester are being asked for their help to ease pressure on the NHS this winter.  GP appointments and visits to A&E go up at this time of year, and one of the main causes is cold and flu. 

Around 15 million people in the UK are affected by colds and flu each year, with the numbers increasing in the winter months.  Advice is being made available locally and on-line about what to do if you or someone in your family catches a cold or has the flu.

GP practices, A&E and ambulances experience a surge in the number of patients each winter.  We know for example that one out of every four people who goes to A&E could have either self-treated or used another local service, such as their pharmacy for advice, for conditions such as colds and flu.

We also know that colder winter weather brings an increase in the number of heart-attacks, strokes, and breathing problems.  We need to make sure that GP practices, ambulance staff and A&E teams are free to treat people with these serious and life-threatening conditions.

NHS teams across the North West are backing the Choose Well campaign.  Choose Well aims to give people information so that they know where to go to in the first instance, to get fast, expert advice when they need it, and how to help themselves if they have a common illness or ailment - and help ease the pressure on A&E and 999 services at the same time.  It also reinforces the message that A&E and 999 services are for serious and life-threatening conditions such as heart-attacks, strokes, serious accidents and breathing conditions.

National Self Care Week is running from 14th - 20th November this year.  We'd like to use this as a call to people to talk to their local high-street pharmacy, or go on line to find advice so that they are prepared.

Illnesses such as colds and flu are fairly self-limiting - you may feel unwell for a few days.  Get plenty of rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.   As colds and flu are caused by viruses, antibiotics will not help get rid of them.

Information about colds and flu can be found on-line at http://tinyurl.com/coldandfluleaflet and www.nhs.uk

 

-ENDS-

 

Notes to editors:

  • Self Care Week takes place from 14-20th November 2011.  Its aim is to raise awareness of what's available locally to help people take care of themselves.  This year's week is building on the success of Self Care Week 2009 and 2010.
  • The European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18th November 2011 provides a platform to remind prescribers and the general public about the dangers of antibiotic overuse. The key message is to encourage prudent antibiotic prescribing so that antibiotics remain a safe and effective resource for the future.
  • Self care includes the actions people take every day in order to stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health, meet their social and physiological needs, prevent illness and accidents, and care more effectively for minor ailments and long-term conditions.  People living with a long-term condition can benefit enormously from being supported to self care.  They can live longer, suffer less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, have a better quality of life and be more active and independent. 
  • NHS hospitals and ambulance services across our region are facing increasing demands on their services.  Over 3.5 million people went to A&E departments in the North West last year.  The cost of providing A&E services went up last year by 19 per cent to £3.78 million
  • We need to make sure that A&E services are free to deal with patients who have serious and life-threatening illnesses, such as heart attacks, strokes and serious injuries
  • NHS teams across the North West are backing the Choose Well campaign.  Choose Well aims to give people information so that they know where to go to in the first instance, to get fast, expert advice when they need it, and how to help themselves if they have a common illness or ailment - and help ease the pressure on A&E and 999 services at the same time
  • If you or someone in your family has back pain, sore throat, flu, cough or cold, stomach upset or sports injury, there are a number of ways you can look after yourself in the first instance
  • Your symptoms should ease over a few days if you use some over-the-counter medicines that are available from your local chemist.  Your high street chemist can give you expert advice.  Always read the instructions carefully and make sure you don't take more than the recommended dose
  • If your symptoms suddenly deteriorate or continue to get worse over a number of days, get an appointment to see your GP