Be Winter Wise is the health advice from Hywel Dda University Health Board


The cold snap hasn’t quite hit yet but doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are urging local people to be Winter Wise and prepare for the season.
​Staff in Hywel Dda University Health Board – from those working in main and community hospitals, to those visiting patients at home or seeing them in community facilities such as pharmacies – expect to be kept very busy helping sick patients this winter.
The organisation has worked with the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, local authorities and the third sector to prepare for the busy period ahead with a Winter Plan. This is published on the health board’s website and sets out how the organisation is preparing to run services as smoothly as possible to ensure patients’ needs continue to be met 24 hours a day.
There is also a wealth of useful information for members of the public on the Winter Wise webpage (www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/winterwise) including how to:
  • get your flu jab and protect yourself and your community against the serious risk of influenza
  • choose the best health service to meet your needs – it could save you time and help the NHS save lives
  • look after yourself and your neighbours – keep well and keep warm
Director of Public Health Teresa Owen said: “It’s really important both for us as an organisation, and for people in our communities, to prepare themselves for winter before it arrives.
“One of the most effective things you can do to protect your own health, and that of others in the community, is to get the influenza vaccination. This is especially important for those in one of the high risk groups including everyone aged 65 and over, people with certain chronic long term health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic respiratory disease, and pregnant women.”
Most NHS flu vaccines are given in GP surgeries, but it is also available in some community pharmacies across Wales, and if you are pregnant you can speak to your midwife.
Clinical Director for Unscheduled Care, Consultant Jeremy Williams, also urged people to consider the full range of health services that could meet their needs and not to rely on emergency units unless their need is very serious and urgent or life-threatening.
"Many people attending our emergency departments are very sick and are attending appropriately,” he said. “But some people have conditions of a lesser severity, which would be best assessed and treated by other health care providers. Often if they attended at a Minor Injury Unit or one of our Triage and Treat pharmacies, for example, they would be cared for appropriately and likely much more quickly than in our emergency units. As well as helping people to be seen in the quickest time possible, this would ultimately help us to save lives.”
Dipping temperatures can have a significant impact on people’s health and one of the best ways of keeping yourself well during the winter is to stay warm. This can include keeping your home heated to at least 18C if you are aged 65 or over, or living with a health condition.
There is a wealth of useful information on the NHS Choices website on keeping warm, eating well, staying active and detail on financial support that is available to some groups of people.
Teresa Owen said: “We are so fortunate to live in a part of the world where there are close-knit, caring communities. One of the most community spirited things we can all do, is to call in on an older or vulnerable neighbour to check they are well and warm this winter, it could be a lifeline to them.”
Information on the organisation’s winter plan, influenza immunisations, the Choose Well guidance and links to the NHS Choices webpage, can all be found on www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/winterwise

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