Stay well in winter

The NHS is here to help when you need it, but you can Help us Help you by knowing when you can care for yourself and your family.

The winter months can be challenging for many Surrey residents, and add more pressure to NHS services during periods of extreme weather. Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially for those aged 65 and over, or if you have a long-term health condition. Even for those in full health, winter can bring with it coughs, colds and flu bugs.

Stay healthy and well this winter

Stay healthy and well this winter and be prepared using the advice below. Seek help when needed using the most appropriate local NHS services listed below, and stock your medicine cabinet with the essentials so you can treat common health conditions like sore throats, colds, coughs and grazed knees.

The latest information about the coronavirus vaccination programme in Surrey Heartlands can be found on this webpage.

There is also a range of very helpful resources to support you during winter on the Healthy Surrey website.

On this page you will find information on:

  • Accessing NHS Services
  • Essential Winter Vaccines
  • NHS 111
  • Children and Young People's Havens
  • What you should keep in your medicine cabinet
  • Checking in on the vulnerable
  • Keeping your house warm
  • Local support across Surrey

Accessing NHS services

If you have a symptom that could be cancer (such as unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury, an unexplained lump, weight loss which feels significant to you or an unexplained pain that doesn’t go away) a maternity concern, or a routine appointment, the NHS is here to help you and can see you safely.

Routine appointments

  • If you have a routine appointment, make sure you keep it, unless recommended otherwise by your doctor. If you are told to go to hospital for a routine appointment, then the NHS has measures in place to make sure that it safe for you to do so.
  • No staff who have Covid-19 symptoms or come into contact with someone with symptoms are allowed to work in the hospital meaning the NHS can see you in a safe environment.

Maternity

  • If you are pregnant, it is crucial that you still attend your antenatal appointments and continue to seek advice from your midwife or maternity team to ensure you have a safe and healthy pregnancy. If you are worried about your health or the health of your unborn baby, please do not hesitate to contact your midwife or maternity team.
  • Women of a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background may be at higher risk of complications of coronavirus. Maternity services have been asked to take extra precautions to keep women at greatest risk safe and everyone should seek advice without delay if they are concerned about their or their baby’s health.
  • Midwives have worked hard to make sure you still have a personal and safe maternity experience during this time, but some services will need to adapt. This could mean having telephone or video consultations or attending your antenatal appointments in a different setting. Your midwife will have more details about what is happening in your area.

Cancer

  • If you’ve had unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury (such as blood in your poo or pee), an unexplained lump, weight loss which feels significant to you or an unexplained pain that lasts three weeks or more, it could be a sign of cancer. It’s probably nothing serious, but finding cancer early makes it more treatable, so just speak to your GP.

Essential winter vaccinations

Vaccinations are an important way to help keep you and your family well during the winter.

  • Visit our flu vaccination page to find out everything you need to know about flu and the flu vaccine.
  • Visit our coronavirus vaccination page to find out everything you need to know about the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Surrey Heartlands.

NHS 111 first

Think you need medical help right now?

NHS 111 logo Go straight to 111 which is available by calling 111 for free or online via www.111.nhs.uk

NHS 111 online is conveniently accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

NHS 111 is there for when you need medical help fast but it is not a life threatening emergency

How NHS 111 works

You will be asked questions about your symptoms on the website or by speaking to a trained adviser on the phone. Depending on the situation, you will then:

  • Find out what local services can help you
  • Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  • Get a face to face appointment if you need one
  • Be told how to get any medicine you may need
  • Get self-care advice
  • Be booked a timed slot in walk-in centres and emergency departments if that's where you need to be

In cases of emergencies please dial 999 - this is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

Children and Young People's Havens

The virtual CYP Havens offer a safe way for 10-18 year olds to talk about their worries & mental health in a confidential, friendly & supportive environment.

For more information about the CYP Havens, please visit the Mindworks Surrey website, the new emotional wellbeing and mental health service for children and young people in Surrey.

You can call them on 01483 519 436 Mondays to Fridays 4pm-8.30pm and on Saturdays & Sundays 12pm-6pm. 

Medicines and self-care

The NHS is here to help when you need it - but you can also help us help you by knowing when you can care for yourself, and your family at home. If you’re worried, and think you may need to see someone, call NHS111 and they will provide advice over the phone or you can visit 111.nhs.uk.

Most common winter ailments, such as a cold, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or earache, can't be treated with antibiotics.

The best thing to do is:

  • rest
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up
  • talk to your pharmacist for advice on getting any pain relief you need such as paracetamol or ibuprofen

Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives

Check on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or breathing (respiratory) problems, to make sure they:

  • are safe and well
  • are warm enough, especially at night
  • have stocks of food and medicines so they do not need to go out during very cold weather

If you're worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact your local council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1602 (8am to 7pm every day).

If you're concerned that the person may be suffering from hypothermia, contact NHS 111.

Keep your home warm

Elderly woman putting the heating on Follow these tips to keep you and your family warm and well at home.

  • If you're not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18C.
  • Keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and keep bedroom window closed.
  • If you're under 65, healthy and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18C, as long as you're comfortable.
  • Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed – but do not use both at the same time.
  • Have at least 1 hot meal a day – eating regularly helps keep you warm have hot drinks regularly to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16C and 20C.
  • Draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts.
  • Get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional.

Local support

Action Surrey provide information and advice on how to keep a home warm and any grants that may be available for replacement boilers and insulation.

You may be eligible for some payments available from the government, such as the winter fuel payment and cold weather payment.

Age UK Surrey provide information to help people stay safe, warm and well in the winter. This includes money saving tips and further advice on benefits and grants, advocacy and counselling.