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Health & Wellbeing

Ambulance service says prepare yourself for winter as clock turn back this weekend

As the clocks turn back this coming weekend, (Sunday 28 October), and the evenings get darker, South East Coast Ambulance Service, (SECAmb), is asking the public for its support by ensuring they take time to prepare for winter.

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SECAmb, is, as ever, expecting a busy winter and while pressure remains high throughout the year, demand is expected to increase further during the winter months.

In December 2017 alone, the Trust handled more than 72,000 calls – an average of 2,400 each day or 100 calls every hour.

In addition to arranging attendances to these incidents, staff in the Trust’s Emergency Operations Centres provided advice over the phone and directed callers to other areas of the health service.

SECAmb is urging people to keep 999 for emergencies only and make use of alternatives including NHS 111.

In addition, by taking just a few precautionary steps to keep themselves, their family and friends safe, people can help lessen the impact the colder months will have on the ambulance service and the wider NHS.

SECAmb Executive Director or Operations Joe Garcia said:

“Winter is always a busy time of year for the ambulance service and our NHS colleagues. We’re asking that people take some time to think whether they are prepared and take some small steps to help lessen the impact on our service.

“Everyone can help us by taking the time to prepare themselves for winter. By undertaking a few simple tasks such checking medicines cabinets, having a flu vaccination or helping a vulnerable relative or neighbour, people can, in turn, help their local ambulance service.”

SECAmb is urging everyone to follow the check list below.

SECAmb winter check list
• Check your home medicines cabinet – is everything in date? Restock with essentials including cold remedies, pain killers, indigestion tablets and diarrhoea and constipation remedies

• Keep up-to-date with any repeat prescriptions you or your family or friends need.

• If you or someone you look after is in an at-risk group – don’t forget to book a flu vaccination

• Look out for any vulnerable friends and neighbours – what could you do to help them? Are there any hazards in their homes? Do their slippers need replacing? We attend falls to older and vulnerable people all year round

• Wear appropriate shoes when outside especially during icy weather. We typically see an increase in slips and trips during colder spells

• When was the last time your vehicle was serviced? If your car is safer, so are you

• Carry some useful items in your vehicles such as a blanket and a spade for colder and possible snowy weather

• Wear bright colours at night. Can you be clearly seen as a pedestrian or cyclist? If walking at dusk or at night use a torch

• Heat homes to at least 18C (65F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer

• Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights – breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections. If outside in the cold, cover your nose and mouth – especially if you have a long-term health condition which might be exacerbated by the cold air

• Keep active when you’re indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so

• Wear several layers of light clothes. They trap warm air better than one bulky layer

• 999 should only be dialled in the event of a life-threatening or serious emergency

• People who are not facing a serious emergency should make alternative arrangements such as dialling NHS 111 or seeking alternative advice from a GP or pharmacist so we can focus on those who need us most.

Joe Garcia added:

“I know our staff and volunteers both in our Emergency Operations Centres and out on the road will be working extremely hard to get people the care they need as quickly as possible. There are also hundreds of staff in support roles, from office staff to vehicle mechanics, who ensure everything runs smoothly.

“We will always prioritise our most serious and life-threatening calls and those not facing a serious emergency will not receive an immediate response. We also expect there to be particular times when it may take us longer to reach some patients who are not in a serious or life-threatening condition.

“To help us manage this demand, we’d urge everyone to remember that 999 is for serious and life-threatening incidents and that using it for any other purpose impacts on our ability to respond to those who genuinely need us in an emergency.”

For further information on how to protect yourself and others this winter please click on the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/staywell

When to call 999:

If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:

• heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)

• sudden unexplained shortness of breath

• heavy bleeding

• unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)

• traumatic back/spinal/neck pain

You should also call for an ambulance if:

• you think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening

• you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital

• moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury

• the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel

Health & Wellbeing

Local NHS urging locals to get jab as flu rates shoot up 85%

The local NHS is urging people to get their flu jab and highlighting treatment advice, after flu cases shot up by 85 per cent within the space of a week in England.

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Health bosses warn this winter’s influenza outbreak is now beginning to take hold and urging those eligible to get their flu jab now – GP consultation rate in the South East for flu like illnesses has risen from 10.3 per 100,000 to 14.2 in just one week, which is adding more pressure on local health services.

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can be a very unpleasant illness with symptoms including fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days.

Flu can’t be treated with antibiotics – flu is caused by viruses and antibiotics only work against bacteria.

Those who get the flu will get better more quickly if they:

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep
  • Make sure they keep warm
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Gareth Howells, Deputy Director of Urgent Care and Systems Resilience for Central Sussex and East Surrey Commissioning Alliance-North, said

The best form of protection against flu is to get the vaccine, and to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene. It isn’t too late to get the flu vaccine so make sure you take up the offer if you’re eligible, to protect yourself and vulnerable people around you.

“We are advising those who already have flu-like symptoms to rest, drink plenty of water and take paracetamol where needed.”

In order to reduce the impact of flu on local NHS services, residents and visitors to the city are being asked to make sure they use the right service for their medical needs, freeing up emergency care for those most in need.

The NHS Minor Injuries Unit Queen Victoria Hospital and Horsham Hospital are available for treatment without appointments; the Urgent Treatment Centre at Crawley Hospital is also available 24 hours a day, NHS 111 is available all day every day and www.nhs.uk is available to check symptoms online around the clock.

A pharmacist can also help with flu, offering treatment advice and recommend flu remedies, and give guidance on giving medicines to children. No appointment necessary to see a local pharmacist and most have private consultation areas, and will say if you need further medical attention. fffffffffffff

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