Stay well this winter
The NHS is preparing earlier than ever this year for what is expected to be another challenging winter.
Across the country, hospitals are on track to create 5,000 additional beds in hospital wards, as well as acute respiratory infection hubs to provide urgent same-day face-to-face assessments for patients with Covid, flu and RSV, and virtual wards are being expanded.
In Cheshire and Merseyside, the NHS is working closely with partners in social care to help speed up hospital discharge and ensure people get the care they need more quickly in the community.
Local teams are also being asked to improve ambulance responses to mental health calls, raise the profile of mental health helplines and reduce long waits for care.
Additionally, the NHS has stepped up its winter vaccinations programme early in response to the risk of the new Covid variant, with more sites than ever before taking part in this year’s campaign, making it as easy and convenient as possible for people to get vital protection this winter.
The public can also play their part in keeping well this winter by getting winter vaccines when they are invited to, keeping their home warm, keeping active, looking out for others, and making sure people are stocked up on prescriptions ahead of holiday periods.
It’s also really important for members of the public to continue to access services in the usual way - using 999 in an emergency, and NHS 111 for help and advice with all other urgent health needs.
Things you can do to help yourself stay well in winter
Get advice if you’re feeling unwell
It’s important to get medical help as soon as you feel unwell. This is especially true for people who are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather, such as:
- people aged 65 and older
- babies and children under the age of 5
- people on a low income (so cannot afford heating)
- people who have a long-term health condition
- people with a disability
- pregnant women
- people who have a mental health condition
You can get help and advice from:
- a pharmacy – pharmacists can give treatment advice for a range of minor illnesses and can tell you if you need to see a doctor. Find a local pharmacy here.
- your GP – you may be able to speak to a GP online or over the phone, or go in for an appointment if they think you need to
- NHS 111 – go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do
The sooner you get advice, the sooner you’re likely to get better.
In an emergency, go to A&E immediately or call 999.
Keep warm and get help with heating
Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
Heat your home to a temperature that's comfortable for you. If you can, this should be at least 18°C in the rooms that you regularly use, such as your living room and bedroom. This is particularly important if you have a health condition. It's best to keep your bedroom windows closed at night.
Check your heating and cooking appliances are safe. Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they're working properly. You can find an engineer from the Gas Safe Register website.
Make sure your home is fire safe. For fire safety advice specific to you and your home, visit the online home fire safety check website to complete a safety check for your home.
Make sure you're getting all the help that you're entitled to. There are grants, benefits and advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has some useful tips on staying safe and healthy in cold weather.
Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives
Remember that other people, such as older neighbours, friends and family members, may need some extra help over the winter. There's a lot you can do to help people who need support.
Icy pavements and roads can be very slippery, and cold weather can stop people from going out.
Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family and ask if they need any practical help, or if they're feeling unwell.
Make sure they're stocked up with enough food supplies for a few days, in case they cannot go out.
If they do need to go out in the cold, encourage them to wear shoes with a good grip and a scarf around the mouth to protect them from cold air, and to reduce their risk of chest infections.
Make sure they get any prescription medicines before the holiday period starts and if bad weather is forecast.
If they need help over the holiday period when the GP surgery or pharmacy is closed or they're not sure what to do, go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
If you're concerned the person may have hypothermia, go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
Find out about who is eligible for an NHS flu vaccination, where you can get one and how to book an appointment
COVID-19 vaccination is an important part of protecting yourself if you're at increased risk from severe COVID-19.
If you need help for a mental health crisis or emergency, you should get immediate expert advice and assessment.
Information about self-care, accessing NHS services and more