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Winter came early in 2016 with a late November cold snap registering below freezing temperatures across the UK. Now that we have survived Christmas – and with it the first leg of the winter season – it's important that we brace ourselves for the long and potentially gruelling remainder.

Additionally we know that soaring demand for primary care services is a major concern this winter and that the NHS can only maintain a high quality of care if the dedication shown by front line clinical staff is matched by understanding and co-operation on part of health service users.

Dr Marc Rowland, Chair of NHS Lewisham CCG said: "The main thing we want people to understand is that by acting quickly on the first signs of illness, you can stop a minor ailment becoming a major one.

We know that the cost of treating for a major winter illness is often greater than the cost of preventing it altogether in most cases. Preventing an illness can include anything from just getting an extra hour of sleep to knowing where, when and how to contact your local GP or pharmacist."

Stay Well This Winter is based around these simple but important messages:

  • Treat symptoms of winter ailments as soon as they appear. If symptoms persist, escalate to a GP or pharmacist.
  • If you lack supplies at home make your local pharmacist the first port of call if non-urgent symptoms are detected.
  • If you've been prescribed antibiotics or other medication, set yourself reminders so you don't forget to complete your course.
  • Remember that some people in the community have difficultly seeking help. Keep an eye out for the vulnerable; over 65s, children and those living with long term health conditions.

The success of this approach depends largely on all of us taking charge of our own personal health and wellbeing, and NHS Lewisham CCG is determined to empower you and your family with the resources you need to do so effectively.

Public Health England's Stay Well This Winter campaign is about much more than simply conserving NHS resources – it's about protecting and sustaining your health during a vulnerable time of year. Through a simple combination of health messages and complementary services we hope to get residents through this winter stronger and healthier than ever.