Over one in four of the population has a long term condition. That’s 15.4 million people in England who have one or more health issues that won’t get better, but can be managed by the individual in most cases to not get worse. Common ones are diabetes, heart problems and breathing problems. Long term conditions are more common as we get older.
With winter comes cold weather which can affect people’s health. So Birmingham CrossCity CCG is asking people with long term conditions to help themselves to stay healthy this winter by taking a few simple steps:
- Get your free flu vaccination. The flu jab is free for those with long term conditions and will protect against flu this winter. If you catch flu when you have health issues it can affect you more and it can take you longer to recover. Contact your GP practice to book an appointment. Some pharmacies are also offering free flu jabs so ask at our local branch to see if you’re eligible.
- Visit your pharmacy. As soon as you start to feel unwell don’t leave it. Talk to your pharmacist. They are trained to give you advice on over the counter medicines for common winter complaints such as coughs and colds that suit your condition. They will also advise you about what remedies to keep in your medicine cabinet. You can find out which pharmacies are close to you here.
- Good hand hygiene. Touching things not only spreads, but picks up germs too. And this is the most common way to pick germs. Wash hands regularly using soap and water, and always make sure your hands are dried thoroughly after washing.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue, put it in the bin and wash your hands to stop the spread of germs. Don’t keep used tissues, you’re just carrying the germs around. It really is that simple.
- Eat well and wrap up warm. Keep warm inside and out, by keeping active and having regular hot drinks and nutritious meals. If you have breathing problems even a small change in temperature can affect you, so take extra care.
- Think ahead. Make sure that you have enough medication to last when your GP surgery may be closed. It’s important that you book any routine appointments with your practice in plenty of time and ensure that you have enough medication to last you over these times. If you haven’t already done so, talk to your GP practice about registering for Patient Online. You can now make appointments and request repeat prescriptions online. No need to ring the surgery.
- Need help out of hours? Call NHS111. Just dial 111 to be put straight through to the NHS where they can advise you on what action to take.
- Personalised Care Plan. It’s a good idea for those with a long term condition to have an up-to-date Personalised Care Plan. A Care Plan will help you manage your condition better - especially during the cold weather. It will also help loved ones know what to do if you do need medical attention. If you’re not sure if you have a Personalised Care Plan, contact your GP or your consultant for more information.
More information about how to stay well this winter is available here.