‘Tis the season to be jolly but it is also the time of year when illnesses such as flu and stomach bugs like Norovirus spread.

There are ways you can protect you and your loved ones this winter by taking some simple steps to keep yourself well.

At the first sign of an illness – even if it is just a cough or cold – people should visit their local pharmacist for advice before it gets more serious.

We are also encouraging people to look out for the more vulnerable members of their community who may be older or have a long-term condition to ensure they are staying healthy during the colder weather.

Dr Hein Le Roux, Clinical Lead for Health and Wellbeing at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We are urging people to do what they can to keep themselves well this winter.

Seasonal illnesses such as flu are very contagious, but there are steps you can take to try to protect yourself and those who are most vulnerable.

If you or a loved one is eligible for the flu jab please book an appointment at your GP or pharmacy to receive your free vaccination.

In terms of colds and flu, you can help stop the spread of germs by catching coughs or sneezes in tissues then bin them and wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water.

There is no cure for stomach bugs such as norovirus. The best thing to do is look after yourself at home and drink plenty of fluids. If symptoms persist for more than a few days, call your GP surgery or NHS 111 for advice.”

There are many different ways to get help if you are feeling unwell. If you are suffering from a minor illness, the first place to go for advice is your local pharmacy.

Mum, Hayley Payne is helping to promote the NHS’ Help us Help You campaign to encourage people to do what they can to keep themselves healthy this winter.

“Pharmacists can help your children with lots of minor complaints, like colds, coughs and earache,” she said.

“Some of my friends take their kids straight to their GP when they really don’t need to.

When my son starts to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough, I don’t wait until it gets worse; I head straight to our local pharmacy. It’s a great first port of call for health advice and you don’t need an appointment.”



Top tips on how to keep well this winter

  • If you start to feel unwell, at the first sign of a winter illness get advice from your pharmacist before it gets more serious
  • It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes pneumonia and depression. Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F) and keep your house warm by drawing curtains at dusk and closing doors to block out draughts
  • Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day – eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter
  • Keep as active as possible and take regular exercise
  • Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip
  • Make sure you’re receiving all the help to heat your home that you are entitled to. Find out more at uk/staywell
  • Keep an eye out for elderly relatives and neighbours. Supporting them in the cold weather can help them Stay Well This Winter
  • Don’t put off getting the flu vaccination. If you’re eligible get it now. It’s free because you need it
  • Pick up prescription medications before the Christmas holidays start. Many GPs and pharmacies will close over the holidays
  • Make sure you speak to your pharmacists about medicines you should have in stock to help get you and your family through the winter season.


Your healthcare options

If you do find yourself ill or injured and are unsure where to turn, the ASAP website www.asapglos.nhs.uk is really useful. It provides information about lots of health conditions and gives advice on how to look after yourself and where to find the most appropriate help. You can also download the ASAP Glos NHS App free from your App store.

If you have an illness that won’t go away or a more urgent medical need then call your GP surgery during normal opening hours to book an appointment. If you need medical support outside of normal GP surgery opening hours, call NHS 111 and they will make sure you receive the advice and care you need.

Gloucester Health Access Centre in Eastgate Street, Gloucester is open every day between 8am and 8pm. Please call 01452 336 290 to make an appointment.

Community Hospital Minor Injury and Illness Units across the county are open every day and into the evening. They can treat adults and children with a range of conditions such as sprains, cuts and wounds or minor eye injuries.  Visit www.asapglos.nhs.uk for locations and opening hours.

Please remember our two emergency departments are for people with life threatening conditions and very serious injuries.