Health and care partners in North Yorkshire and York are working closely together to ensure local services are well prepared for the winter season – and patients can continue accessing help when they need it.
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has meant that there have been changes to the way health and care services are being delivered.
However, NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Vale of York CCG and other partners are reminding patients that GP services, community pharmacies, NHS 111, out-of-hours services, urgent treatment centres and emergency departments are all available to patients who become unwell during the winter months; and substantial work has gone in to ensuring healthcare settings are safe and Covid-secure.
Patients who need to access their GP surgery are being asked to telephone first and will be asked some questions about their healthcare needs and they will then be allocated the most appropriate appointment, which may be by remote consultation or face to face.
If it is not an emergency, patients can also get medical advice 24/7 by using the NHS 111 service (online or over the phone), with trained medical professionals available to ensure that patients receive the most suitable advice and medical care.
For more serious illnesses patients should visit their local emergency department and for life threatening conditions call 999.
Local pharmacies can also be an excellent option for advice on minor health conditions common over the winter period such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.
Meanwhile, the flu vaccination programme is also beginning to be rolled out and patients who are in an ‘at risk category’ will be contacted by their GP Surgery with information. The flu vaccine is more important than ever this year, while Covid-19 continues to circulate, as flu can be a serious illness which can result in hospital admission. Subject to supply the flu vaccination may be available to more patients this year but the focus is on vulnerable individuals in the first instance.
NHS North Yorkshire CCG Clinical Chair, Dr Charles Parker, said: “There are a number of effects the winter can have, and they are not just physical; the colder weather and shorter days can also affect mental health.
“We need to ensure people are still accessing help when they need it over the winter period. We know patients may still be anxious about accessing services, but it is very important, particularly with serious illnesses to reassure patients that 111, hospitals and GPs are still providing the same care they have always done in a very safe manner.
Dr Andrew Lee, NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s Executive Director for Primary care said: “Over the winter season, I would advise patients to keep a stock of over the counter medicines in their homes to treat minor illnesses that are common over winter. These remedies could include basic painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol, cough syrup and antacids that are all available at your local supermarket and pharmacy.”
Patients can also continue to order repeat prescriptions and seek advice via the NHS App where available. People can find out more about ordering medicines online at www.nhs.uk.
North Yorkshire County Council is running a campaign known as ‘Warm and Well’ to support people with energy bills over winter. If you or someone you know is living in or at risk of a cold home or struggling to afford their energy bills, contact ‘Warm and Well’ by phone 01609 767 555, email email@example.com or visit the website for more information www.warmandwell.org.uk/
For further advice on how to best use the NHS visit: https://www.nhs.uk/
For information on flu vaccination eligibility and what counts as a clinical ‘at risk group’ go to: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/