Health services across Teesside are taking steps to ensure they are fully prepared to deal with any surges in demand this winter.
Whether it’s identifying extra hospital beds or vaccinating frontline staff against flu, plans are in place to enable urgent and emergency care teams to cope with increasing pressures.
The NHS is also urging people to “Help Us Help You” by:
- Checking on elderly neighbours and relatives during cold snaps to ensure they are warm and well
- Getting the flu vaccine if you are over 65 or suffering from a long-term condition
- Thinking pharmacy first – did you know 98% of the population live within a 20 minute walk of a pharmacy?
- Ensuring home medicine cabinets are fully stocked and ordering repeat prescriptions in advance
- Practising good hand hygiene and not visiting hospital within 48 hours of having a sickness bug
- Being aware of the urgent care services available locally such as Redcar Minor Injury Unit and extended hours GP Hubs
- Calling NHS 111 or visiting 111.nhs.uk when you need immediate health advice but it’s less urgent than 999 – including mental health crisis support and emergency dental treatment
- Booking routine GP appointments online via your GP practice website – including weekend and evening appointments at extended hours GP hubs (You will need to register with your GP practice to use these online services)
- Only using A&E or calling 999 for genuine emergencies
Penny Bateman, Operations Director for Urgent and Emergency Care at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “As temperatures drop and the nights draw in we are busy planning for the anticipated increase in attendances at our hospitals during the coming months.
“Winter always brings a rise in road accidents, slips, trips and falls, but the biggest increase we see during this time is the number of people coming through our doors with respiratory problems – this increased by as much as 68% last year, but not all of these admissions really need a hospital stay, some can be treated as day cases or receive treatment in their own home, supported by community services.
“People can also help us reduce unnecessary admissions by following the “Help Us Help You” advice to help them stay well and ensure they receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
“As a Trust we have robust contingency plans in place which will allow us to create additional hospital beds if required.”
Dr Neil O’Brien from NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Winter is a challenging time for the NHS, but across the region we have robust plans in place to ensure we are as prepared as we can be, as the cold nights and days begin.
“There’s a lot that you can do at home to stop any illness in its tracks. It’s never too early to stock up on those vital medicines that may prevent some common winter illnesses from developing.
“If you do develop a winter infection, we are asking you to act responsibly and stop the spread of infection. Choose well, think pharmacy and self-care, GPs and NHS 111 and leave A&E for emergencies.
“NHS staff are working hard to ensure that those who do end up in hospital can be returned home quickly so we’re able to manage demand and free up beds for those who really need them. Remember help us help you this winter.”