This is my last blog of the year, so thank you for reading it. The NHS is one of our best loved institutions, it’s hereto look after you when you’re ill or hurt and also to help you look after yourself to prevent illness. So with that in mind, let me state the obvious - winter is coming - and with it come the whole range of health problems that come to the fore this
time of year.
Have you had your flu jab yet? Remember if you are in one of the following groups you are entitled to, and we recommend that you should have, a free flu jab:
· all children aged two to ten (but not eleven years or older) on 31 August 2019
· those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
· pregnant women
· those aged 65 years and over
· those in long-stay residential care homes
· close contacts of people whose immune system is not strong
There are a number of “at risk” groups but the common ones are people with long-term heart and lung problems such as heart failure, COPD and asthma, also patients with diabetes and those with a compromised immune system. Ask your surgery if you are unsure if you qualify. Flu injections are available from your GP surgery and some pharmacies.
What the flu season was like over our summer in the southern hemisphere is often a guide to how much flu we will experience and this year they have had a very high number of flu cases so this is a good year to make sure you get immunised.
And on the theme of helping us to help you.... we can all help those who really need to see their GP by making sure we use right NHS services and advice when we are under the weather. Your local pharmacist has the necessary skills to spot those who need to see their doctor and the ability to help those with more minor illnesses. Also NHS 111 can give you advice if you have an urgent medical problem and are not sure what to do. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also get help online by visiting 111.nhs.uk (for people aged five and over only). Or a smart way to find the help you need is on the NHS App. You can use it to check symptoms, book an appointment, order repeat medications and even see some of your medical records securely. It’s simple to log on and register and I’d encourage you to sign up.
As I have urged before, let’s make sure we support our community over the winter. Keep an eye on your elderly neighbours and offer to help where necessary, especially over the festive period.
I really hope you have a wonderful Christmas and may I finish off by wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year as we enter the 2020s. Keep warm this winter and look out for each other.
Dr Paul Williams
Chair West Norfolk CCG