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Stay out of A&E this winter with ten simple tips for staying safe and well

During the cold winter months, residents are being encouraged to try and avoid the need to go to A&E by following ten tips for staying safe and well this winter.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council have worked with the University Hospital of North Midlands Trust (UHNM) to develop the ten tips to stay as healthy and safe as possible during the festive season.

The ten tips are:

  1. Manage long-term conditions – Cold weather can make respiratory conditions like asthma worse as well as being cold and flu season. Residents are advised to book COVID-19 booster and flu jabs if invited and make sure repeat prescriptions are ordered in plenty of time to have enough medications to last over Christmas and New Year. Go to nhs.uk/wintervaccinations.

  2. Enjoy festive parties safely – Residents will, of course, want to have fun at Christmas or New Year parties but are advised to drink sensibly and never drink and drive.


  3. Check medicine cabinets – Stocking up on appropriate over-the-counter medications like painkillers can help with the common illnesses seen at this time of year.

  4. Stay safe and avoid accidents – Residents are advised to take care in icy conditions and to only make essential journeys in bad weather. It is not safe to try and walk on frozen lakes. Remember to also look out for hazards within the home. Check for choking hazards for children and make sure there are no batteries or medications within the reach of children. Open fires or log burners should be used safely.

  5. Look after mental health and wellbeing – Christmas and New year can be a stressful period but help is available for any residents who are struggling. The Stronger Together Through Winter campaign has been co-ordinated by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in partnership with VAST, which supports the voluntary and community sector in the city, and a number of other charities and public services. Mental health support is available from the Brighter Futures helpline 2pm-2am 365 days a year on 0808 800 2234. Residents can also get their personalised mental health action plan from Every Mind Matters at https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-wellbeing-tips/your-mind-plan-quiz/

  6. Keep warm and well in winter and access support where needed – It is more important to heat the person than the room. Any residents who are struggling with the cost of living can get support from Stronger Together Through Winter. Over 60 locations throughout the city have signed up to be Welcoming Spaces, where people can meet up, socialise, access support on issues such as money, welfare and mental wellbeing, access computers, free wi-fi and charging points, and heated spaces.

  7. Eat well – Eating a healthy, balanced diet can protect against some diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Residents who are struggling can get support from Stronger Together Through Winter, including information on food vouchers. Information on Healthy Start Vitamins for pregnant women and babies under one can be found at https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/getting-vitamins/.
  8. Keep active – Staying active can help physical and mental wellbeing. Anything from an intense workout or brisk walk or an activity such as gardening can be beneficial.

  9. Get any health checks or screenings you are invited to – Health Checks and screening can spot any early issues so treatment can be offered or information given.

  10. Think 111 – Residents who do need urgent or emergency help can use 111 online at 111.nhs.uk or call 111 to be directed to the most appropriate service. This could be a GP, Walk-In Centre, pharmacy or A&E. For genuine, life-threatening emergencies such as loss of consciousness, fits, chest pain, breathing difficulties, major trauma or feelings of self-harm or suicide call 999 or go to A&E.

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for culture, leisure and public health said: “However you’re spending the Christmas period, we want everyone to have a fantastic time and staying safe and well is an important part of that.

“Helping our residents to live their lives well is one of our key priorities as a city council and we want everyone to have a fantastic Christmas and New Year. A&E departments can get incredibly busy this time of year and, by only attending in a genuine medical emergency, we can make sure everyone who needs to be seen at A&E can be. I’d urge all residents to know when it’s appropriate to call 999 or go to A&E. Often, another service is more suitable and 111 can help with this if you’re unsure.

“I’d like to wish everyone a happy, and safe, Christmas and New Year.”

Dr Matthew Lewis, Medical Director at UHNM, said: “There are a number of things our local populations can do to prepare for the festive holiday period to avoid needing our A&E services such as keeping a well-stocked medicine cupboard and taking care when out and about. Obviously, though, we do not want to deter patients who do need to come here. Our A&E departments are available to treat accidents and emergencies. Conditions include chest pain, loss of consciousness, severe bleeding, broken bones, choking, difficulty breathing or a suspected stroke.”

Further details on the Stronger Together Through Winter Campaign, including mental health support, benefits, food vouchers, Welcoming Spaces and more, can be found at http://sottogether.vast.org.uk/ or call 01782 208200 (Monday to Friday, 2pm – 7pm).

Information on when to go to A&E for a genuine life-threatening emergency is available at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/urgent-and-emergency-care-services/when-to-go-to-ae/