Winter is coming, be prepared but know the NHS in the South West is here for you

Winter is coming and the NHS across the South West continues to be here for you when you need us.

Health and care workers are working hard to prepare for what is expected to be a very challenging winter, following an extremely busy summer.

Dr Michael Marsh, Regional Medical Director at NHS England South West, said: “There are many great examples of work that’s already under way or being built on to meet the challenge of winter in the South West.

“One is the excellent pilot scheme in Somerset to help elderly people who have fallen at home, so they’re less likely to end up in hospital.

“Another is the region’s first-ever care-coordination centre at Great Western Hospital in Swindon, where clinical staff, social care, therapists and other experts work side by side to make sure people get the right treatment.  They can track every patient currently in the hospital and every ambulance on route, as well as recording the next steps in each patient’s care.

“These are the sorts of ways where health and care teams are trying to keep people out of hospital if they don’t need to be there, and help them stay at homes and in the communities where they would much rather be.”

Everyone can help play their part in making sure the NHS is there for everyone at the right time and in the right place, and can see people with life-threatening or life-changing conditions as quickly and safely as possible.

Dr Marsh said: “With winter coming, we should all take time to prepare for the chillier and darker months ahead; the effects of the colder weather can be serious for some of our more vulnerable including our very young and elderly.

“When you are offered the flu and/or Covid booster jab, make sure that you book your appointment as soon as possible to boost your immunity which could protect you from serious complications of the viruses.”

Unless your condition is life-threatening or life-changing go online to NHS 111( or call 111 if you need a medical help; make use of pharmacies who can offer expert, confidential advice and over the counter remedies for a range of minor injuries and illnesses, and if you need to talk to a GP, whether you’re a resident or on holiday with us, contact your own GP practice who have a range of experienced staff to help you.

Dr Marsh added: “When it comes to self-care make sure you have a well-stocked medicine cupboard and first aid kit, and don’t run out of your prescribed medication by ordering your repeat prescriptions online with the NHS app or your GP practice. Self-care also extends to recognising that as it becomes colder and the hours of daylight dwindle, the changes can affect the chemicals in our body that impact in mood leaving us feeling the ‘winter blues’.

“Make sure you are eating well and getting enough rest and sleep whenever possible.  Be active in whatever you enjoy doing as much as you can as it helps improves mood, stress, and anxiety, and if you are outside the sunlight will help boost your mood as does being in green spaces.

“It’s also important to remember to reach out to a friend or relative, especially at these times. Alternatively, if you’d prefer, talk to someone who is trained to listen and understand what you’re going through.”

For tips to improve your physical and mental health visit: 5 steps to mental wellbeing – NHS (