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Thursday 27th October 2016

Help Others to Keep Safe and Well in Severe Weather

6th December 2010

Health Secretary Launches Winterwatch

As the Met Office continues to issue severe weather warnings to parts of the country for the next few days, the Department of Health is urging people to check on the needs of others and remain vigilant to the risks faced during this period of very cold weather.

Following a few basic principles can make a big difference to the safety and wellbeing of those at risk.

Measures such as:

  • checking on them to make sure they are safe and well;
  • making sure they're warm enough, especially at night; and
  • stocking up on food and medicines.

Icy conditions have made many areas extremely slippery and there is an increased risk of vehicles skidding. People - especially older people - should take extra care to avoid slips and falls and be aware vehicles might take longer to stop than normal. Older people and those with health conditions should stay inside if at all possible and only make essential journeys.

To keep the public informed about how they can keep safe and how well the NHS is coping in the cold snap, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is launching Winterwatch - a weekly update with relevant information in one place.

Andrew Lansley said:

“There is often more pressure on the NHS at this time of year. It deals with rises in slips, trips and falls, increases in admissions due to flu and other health problems associated with the colder weather and the winter vomiting bug norovirus. But the NHS is well prepared.

“I welcome the fact that NHS staff are experienced in handling events like this. The purpose of this first bulletin is to enable the public to understand how well the NHS responds to pressures at winter-time.

”Across Government we are working on our cold weather plans which are supported by our pledge to retain the winter fuel allowance, which will help people to keep homes warm.

“We have turned the temporary increase in the Cold Weather Payments, introduced by the last Government, into a permanent increase.”

Across the NHS, local plans are already in place to mitigate the extra pressure on services caused over winter months. In addition, many parts of the NHS will be running Choose Well campaigns designed to inform patients of the NHS services available to them in their local area and direct patients to the service best suited to meet their clinical need such as pharmacies or walk-in centres. As well as guiding patients to the most appropriate care, it also seeks to help to relieve pressure on A and E and GP services by reducing unnecessary patient attendance.

The Department of Health plans, from next Friday, to publish weekly information for the public demonstrating:

  • the resilience of A and E departments and showing how well levels of performance and response are being maintained;
  • seasonal flu vaccine uptake figures; and
  • seasonal flu activity.

It is vital that all those who are eligible make sure they take advantage of the free seasonal flu vaccine. Every year there are approximately 8,000 flu-related deaths in the winter months in England and Wales - these deaths are avoidable. Rates of people taking the vaccine remain lower than at the same point in previous years.

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