Nurses feature in campaign to keep people out of emergency departments this winter
Nurses, pharmacists and GPs are fronting a campaign to help people to keep well this winter and away from overstretched emergency departments.
Nurses, pharmacists and GPs are fronting a campaign to help people to keep well this winter and away from overstretched emergency departments
NHS England and Public Health England have joined forces to help people aged over 65, those with long term health conditions and young children avoid winter illnesses such as flu and breathing problems.
Frontline NHS staff, including practice nurses, are taking part in adverts encouraging people to set their thermostat to no lower than 18oC, wrap up warm, and consume hot meals and drinks to keep their energy up.
The Stay Well This Winter campaign also urges those who are eligible for their flu vaccination to get one now. Anyone with a cough and cold should also seek early help from a pharmacist.
Research has shown that people with conditions such as heart disease, lung problems including asthma, and dementia are much more likely to die in winter.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were an estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2014/15, the most recent data available.
This was the highest number since 1999/2000, with 27% more people dying in the winter months compared with the rest of the year. The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 and over.
Cold indoor or outdoor temperatures increases blood pressure, which heightens the risk of heart failure, kidney disease and stroke. It also makes the blood more likely to clot, raising the risk of heart attack and stroke, and reduces the lung's ability to fight off infection.
Professor Keith Willett, medical director for acute care at NHS England, said: ‘It is vital that the most vulnerable people take preventative steps to keep healthy and stay well. We have a high number of A&E attendances over this time that are due to issues which could have been avoided had people asked for medical advice at the first sign of illness.’
A report from the Commons health committee said the NHS could face a ‘substantially more difficult’ winter this year than last, with increasing demand for services, trusts suffering due to too-few staff and a widespread inability to move out patients who are medically fit to be discharged.