NHS West Essex: Keep warm and well throughout the cold spell

AS THE cold snap continues NHS West Essex is encouraging people to keep warm and well and to use NHS services wisely. With temperatures falling well below freezing during the day and night it is very important that people protect themselves and look out

AS THE cold snap continues NHS West Essex is encouraging people to keep warm and well and to use NHS services wisely.

With temperatures falling well below freezing during the day and night it is very important that people protect themselves and look out for vulnerable family members, neighbours and friends - older people, young children and those with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Cold weather is serious and claims lives every year. In particular it can make heart and respiratory problems worse and threatens those in or approaching fuel poverty who can't afford to heat their homes adequately.

Top tips for keeping warm and well:


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* ensure you or vulnerable people you know have enough food and medicines in stock, and check that they are able to keep themselves warm

* have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day - eating regularly helps to keep energy levels up during winter. Keep as active indoors as possible

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* wear several light layers of warm clothes, and if you're going outside wear boots, hats, gloves and scarves. Remember, the roads and pavements may be slippery. Take a mobile phone with you

* keep your living room and bedrooms warm - between 18-21 degrees centigrade - and avoid going outside if possible.

The severe weather is also creating a greater demand for many of the region's NHS services.

In addition hazardous conditions on the roads are making things difficult for The East of England Ambulance Service in some areas.

NHS West Essex is urging people to use their common sense and only call 999 for a true emergency need.

The NHS has resources in place to maintain high levels of service and response, and continues to provide the best care possible to patients, but maintaining these levels of service relies heavily on the public's good sense to choose well and use the 999 service wisely.

Regional Director of Public Health, Paul Cosford, said: "The current severe weather conditions are putting greater pressure on NHS services across the region so it is really important that people not only look after themselves and those who are more vulnerable to ensure they keep warm and well, but also choose the correct service if they do become unwell.

"For true emergencies always call 999, but for less urgent matters it is really important to access the NHS non-emergency services.

"There is a whole range of these on offer during working hours and out-of-hours to help people get well from GP surgeries and pharmacies to walk-in centres and minor injury units.

"To get advice over the phone on the right service for you please contact NHS Direct, it is available 24 hours a day."

When to call 999

The NHS East of England Choose Well campaign aims to provide a simple guide about what NHS services are available to help them get well.

You should only call 999 for an ambulance when it is obvious that you or another person is seriously ill and in need of immediate emergency care.

For example you should call 999 if:

* someone is unconscious

* someone is suffering stroke symptoms

* someone is bleeding heavily

* someone may have broken bones

* someone has a deep laceration

* someone has chest pain

* someone is having difficulty breathing.

If you have any doubt about whether you need a 999 response please call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 and seek advice.

Advice is also available from pharmacies and you can see a doctor without an appointment at the GP led health centres across the region and minor injury units.

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