A winter ‘call to action’ from your NHS in Southampton

Your local NHS today issued a winter ‘call to action’ to help Southampton area residents to stay well this winter. 

With the continuing threat and challenges posed by COVID-19, doctors say it is crucial to keep the city’s GP practices and hospital facilities as clear as possible for those patients who most need them.

Medical leaders representing GP services and at the University Hospital Southampton (UHS) urge you to please: 

* Get your COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as you become eligible for it AND are invited to receive it
* Take up your offer of your first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already done so. You will not only be protecting yourself, but everyone you come into contact with

* Get your flu jab this season if you are eligible – COVID-19 is not the only respiratory virus circulating, especially in the winter when you have flu/cold/coughs/colds

* If you think you have COVID-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough, loss of taste/smell) then please self-isolate and book yourself in for a PCR test*

* Ensure you have a good supply of over-the-counter medicines and treatments at home, such as paracetamol and plasters, so that you can self-care if you become unwell

* your pharmacies are a great resource. They can help with minor ailments and you don’t need an appointment to attend

* Use NHS 111 online – alongside the Practice Plus Group Urgent Treatment Centre at the Royal South Hants Hospital in Brintons Terrace, where you can also get treated for minor injuries

* Follow the national advice about Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air where possible – not just for the pandemic, but to help keep down the number of other bugs which thrive in the winter months. 

Dr Sarah Young, a GP and the Clinical Director (Southampton), for NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The NHS aims to be there for you when you need us but there are a number of ways that we can all help. 

“There are so many coughs, colds and bugs around – and one way to help is to be prepared for common illnesses such as colds by keeping our medicine cabinet stocked with a number of over-the-counter medicines that you can buy from your pharmacist. Pharmacists are a fantastic local resource, and you won’t need to wait to see them for help and advice. 

“And we really need all eligible people to please take up their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations when invited to do so, especially people with a long-term health condition.” 

Dr Freya Pearson, deputy chief medical officer at UHS, said: “We are continuing to experience unprecedented levels of demand across our hospital and our emergency departments (ED) are busier than ever.  

“Our staff are working incredibly hard to care for everyone who needs our help.  We are asking members of the community to help us by thinking about the best way to get the treatment you need; only come to ED if it is urgent or life-threatening, consider visiting your local pharmacy, contacting your GP or using 111 online to help find the right service for you.” 

Other information that you may find useful:

  • For the latest advice on the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the Isle of Wight visit the CCG website
  • Visit nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/keep-warm-keep-well/for more advice on staying well in winter.
  • For a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, you can order a home test kit or book an appointment at a test site. 
  • The ‘Hands. Face. Space and Fresh Air’ public information campaign urges people to continue to wash their hands, cover their face and make space to control infection rates.
  • To check your eligibility for the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster vaccine or to find a service visit nhs.uk/wintervaccinations

    Over-the-counter medicines available at your pharmacist include:
    * Painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin, which can help with colds and flu by reducing aches, pains and high temperatures
    * Antihistamines, for dealing with allergies and insect bites
    * Antacid, which will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief if you have stomach ache or heartburn
    * Cough medicines
    * Oral rehydration salts
    , which will restore your natural balance of fluid and minerals after diarrhoea or being sick.