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NHS preparing for busy winter period

Winter means lower temperatures and higher numbers of people seeking medical help so NHS organisations across Chorley, South Ribble and Greater Preston are working together to help keep services running smoothly throughout this busy period.

As well as healthcare staff being encouraged to have a flu jab to help keep their patients well, members of the public are being encouraged to get medical advice and treatment in the right place.

Denis Gizzi, Chief Officer of Chorley and South Ribble CCG and Greater Preston CCG said: “With unprecedented numbers of patients accessing NHS services, it’s more important than ever that NHS organisations and members of the public work together to make the best use of available services.

“A number of GP practices in our area are offering additional evening and weekend appointments, and patients should contact their practice for details.

“We are also supporting healthcare providers to ensure that people are treated in the most appropriate place for their need.”

Karen Partington, Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are taking a wide range of actions over the busy winter period so that patients receive safe and timely care, and our hard-working staff are supported. 

“We have invested in our frailty service which provides early comprehensive geriatric assessment to find appropriate alternatives to hospital admission for older patients. The team also works closely with older patients to reduce the length of time they spend in hospital, and to facilitate speedier recovery from surgery. 

“Additional clinics have been set up to provide prompt emergency treatment for patients with respiratory, gastroenterology and cardiology conditions. More treatment such as intravenous fluid therapy is being provided in people’s own homes so they don’t need to come into hospital.

“Additional doctors have been employed to help us care for the higher number of medical patients in hospital over winter, so they’re reviewed frequently and delays in treatment are prevented. We have secured an extra ambulance over winter to transfer people who have been discharged, which will relieve pressure on NWAS and free up beds quicker. 

“Families and carers can support hospital staff during the winter by making arrangements to transfer their elderly relatives to care homes promptly when their hospital treatment concludes, so we can swiftly admit patients who need urgent care.

“Our staff are doing everything they can to provide the highest standards of care and treatment during this very busy period. Many are working extra shifts to provide services seven days a week, and lots of staff are providing additional support on the wards. On behalf of our board and our patients I wish to thank them for their continued commitment, effort and unwavering compassion.”

A spokesperson from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust added: “We are working alongside other NHS colleagues in the area to make sure that people have access to the right services this winter.

“Winter is always a busy period for the NHS, so we would encourage people to use services appropriately and remember that NHS111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for medical advice. People should also follow the stay well tips that we have provided and visit www.nhs.uk/staywell for more advice on winter health and wellbeing.”

Winter wellbeing tips and advice

There are a number of things you can do to keep yourself and your family well this winter:

  • Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked up with all the essentials so you can treat common ailments as soon as they appear. 
     
  • If you start to feel unwell, at the first sign of winter illness (even if it’s just a cough or a cold), seek advice from a pharmacist before it escalates into something more serious. Some pharmacies are open on Christmas Day, visit www.greaterprestonccg.nhs.uk for details.
     
  • If you need urgent care for a minor injury or illness, urgent care centres are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital
     
  • Not sure which service you need or think you need an out of hours GP? NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for medical advice, and the trained operators can advise on the most appropriate service for your need.
     
  • Keep an eye out for notices in your GP practice about changes to working days over the winter period.
     
  • And remember, there’s still time to get your flu jab. People aged 65 and over, those with long term conditions, pregnant women, carers and children aged 2, 3 and up to year 4 in schools are eligible for the free flu vaccination.   

Visit www.nhs.uk/staywell for more helpful tips and advice.

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