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​​Summer health advice – get prepared

Most of us welcome hot weather but when it's too hot for too long there are health risks. You can avoid feeling uncomfortable or unwell by making sure you are prepared for summer.

Ensure you stay hydrated – carry a bottle of water with you, especially if you're heading out for the day or making a long journey.  It's also a good idea to wear cool clothing and stay out of the sun between 11am to 3pm.

​If you do feel unwell, use the right health service. A&E departments are for life-threatening illnesses only. Using the right health service for your needs can prevent you waiting around in A&E, ensure you receive more appropriate treatment more quickly and free up local A&E staff to help those patients with the most serious conditions. 

Dr Marc Rowland, a local GP and Chair of NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "As summer starts it's important to remember that A&E is for serious emergencies only. Hospitals are very busy places all year round, including summer, with A&E staff dealing with emergencies like strokes and heart attacks.  

"Summer conditions such as sunburn, hayfever or dehydration can be easily prevented and simple treatments are available. Local pharmacists are trained clinicians who can provide expert advice on how to help manage illnesses as well as providing guidance on the best treatments." 

A basic first aid kit at home can help with minor ailments, such as stomach upsets, allergies, headaches, sunburn and insect bites. Visit the NHS First Aid Kit guide.
Alternative services

  • Self-care – people suffering from minor ailments such as coughs and colds, grazes and hangovers should treat themselves at home or visit their local pharmacy
  • Pharmacies – your local pharmacist is qualified to offer advice on health issues and medication as well as treat headaches, an upset stomach and other common illnesses
  • Urgent Care Centre (UCC) – with no appointment necessary your local urgent care centre is managed by doctors and nurses who are available to deal with minor illnesses and injuries, such as cuts, burns, sprains and suspected breaks. The Lewisham UCC, Lewisham Hospital, Lewisham High Street, London SE13 6LH or call 020 8333 3000 or
  • Walk-in centre - with no appointment necessary your local walk in centre is managed by doctors and nurses who are available to deal with minor illnesses and injuries, such as cuts, burns, sprains and suspected breaks. The Waldron Health Centre can be found at Suite 3 Waldron Health Centre, Amersham Vale, London SE14 6LD.
  • GP out-of-hours service – If you need to see a doctor when your GP surgery is closed, GP out-of-hours services are available from SELDOC (South East London Doctors Cooperative) on 020 8693 9066. A call handler will take your details and a local GP will call you back within 60 minutes or sooner if necessary. If you need to be seen, a convenient appointment can be booked on the same day with SELDOC at their sites at Lewisham Urgent Care Centre, Dulwich Community Hospital in East Dulwich or Gracefield Gardens walk in centre in Streatham.

People can download a guide to local alternative services from here.

Summer is also the time of year when allergies such as asthma, eczema and hay fever can get much worse, with symptoms including sneezing, coughing, skin rashes and shortness of breath. But there's no need to get bogged down by runny noses, itchy eyes, irritated skin and tickly throats.

Allergy sufferers can prepare for summer months by getting the medicines they need from their local pharmacist. Find out more information about hay fever and allergies.

Tips to stay cool and reduce health risks:

  • Stay out of direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm (hottest part of the day).
  • Always use a sunscreen with a high protection factor
  • Drink cold drinks regularly such as water.
  • Wear loose, cool clothing and a hat outdoors.
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.

You can get more information on staying safe this summer on the NHS Choices website. ​