Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart is urging constituents to take care of themselves and their neighbours this winter.

Every year, winter puts increased pressure on our NHS and emergency services, due to the combination of cold weather, increased levels of flu, sicker patients and staff illness, and the ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign has been launched to help communities understand how to use the NHS effectively.

People can help ease pressure on the NHS by:

Getting a flu jab – the most effective way to protect yourselves and your loved ones from flu. All NHS Staff and those most at risk (those with long term conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, those over 65 and pregnant women) are entitled to a free flu jab.  Carers and those with certain medical conditions are also entitled to a free vaccination.

Choosing wisely – know which NHS service is best for your needs. Check North Cumbria CCG’s website for a range of winter advice.

  • If you care for children – download the free NHS Child Health app for advice and support.
  • If you have a long term health condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – speak to your care coordinator about how best to manage your symptoms and conditions over the winter.
  • Stocking up the medicine cabinet.
  • Only using antibiotics which are prescribed – they are no good for coughs and colds.
  • Norovirus – stay away from hospitals, care homes and schools if you have the winter vomiting bug. Wait until you are symptom free for 48 hours before you visit any public places or relatives.
  • Keeping warm – make sure your home and those of your loved ones are warm this winter. At least 18°C
  • In an emergency call 999
  • Furthermore, patients will be able to access GP appointments out-of-hours, throughout the Christmas and New Year period, through the CHoC service, which is accessed by calling the NHS 111 number, and all pharmacy opening hours are available on the Cumbria CCG website –

    To support the health service through this challenging time, the Government has provided extra funding to support schemes aimed at ensuring people are only admitted into hospital when necessary and also that discharges are not delayed. The funds (around £300,000) will be used for the following projects:

    A successful pilot in Eden will now be rolled out across Carlisle in which therapy teams work with paramedics to assess patients in their own home. This is particularly important for older people who have suffered a fall, who may need medical attention but not necessarily a stay in hospital.  By assessing patients in this way the teams can avoid a hospital admission as the support the person needs is actioned in their own home by the experts who provide it.

  • There will be an increase in availability of therapy teams over a weekend to support discharges. This is because we know that some patients can be delayed going home over a weekend because access to therapy team to support the discharge is usually reduced.
  • To support both discharges and admissions, patients who are ready for discharge but waiting for medication to take home for example, will be taken off the ward to an area where they can be supported by a medical team on the ground floor. This means that the nursing staff from the ward can remain there and the bed space is freed up quicker for other patients.
  • Health teams across Cumbria have been working together to ensure the health system is working as smoothly as possible, and to provide appropriate support and advice to those who are at risk of illness over the winter and thereby reduce the numbers of people who need to be in hospital.

    Rory Stewart MP said: ‘It is absolutely crucial that people help to take the strain off the NHS this winter, by taking good care of themselves and those around them, being prepared and making sensible decisions relating to their health. Increased resources, information, and guidance on self-help have been made available to make this easier, and help relieve pressure, and staff will be working as hard as ever to ensure patients continue to receive the same high standard of care. And I am immensely grateful to all our NHS staff for their care and commitment during this incredibly busy period.”

    “However, physical health isn’t the only important factor in staying well. Christmas can be a very difficult time for many people, and it is important, if you are feeling down, that you speak to a friend or family member, or an organisation such as the Samaritans or Carlisle and Eden Mind for support. And please remember to reach out to friends or neighbours who might be feeling lonely this Christmas”.

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