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We're asking people in Lewisham to take simple steps to stay fit and healthy this winter – with a reminder that caring for yourself can also help the NHS. 

Local GP and Lewisham CCG Clinical Director, Dr Charles Gostling, said: "We want to support you to look after your own health and help you to fight off common winter bugs.

"It's always useful to keep your medicines cabinet well stocked – that ensures you have a first aid kit available to deal with any minor illnesses or injuries. You should also consider having the flu jab every year. If you're not eligible for a free NHS vaccination, you can arrange one for a small charge at many local pharmacies."

Winter is the busiest time for local hospitals and GP surgeries, but many common illnesses can be most easily treated with over-the-counter products and rest.

To stay health over the winter, people are advised to:

  • Get vaccinated against the flu. People at greatest risk from the illness are eligible for the free NHS vaccination. For more information, visit the NHS website
  • Seek advice from a pharmacist if you start to feel unwell. Don't risk waiting until it gets more serious – even if it's a cough, sore throat or a cold.
  • Try to stay active – even when you're indoors – and stay warm in colder weather.
  • Eat a healthy diet with a good helping of fruit and vegetables.
  • Make sure your home medicine cabinet is well stocked with basic items such as painkillers (paracetamol and ibuprofen), cold and flu remedies and anti-diarrhoeal medicine. For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/livewell/pharmacy

Dr Gostling added: "Most people would prefer to avoid making a GP appointment if possible. By taking simple steps and using the right service, you can save valuable time and an unnecessary trip to your GP over the busy winter period.

"Self-care can also help to reduce the pressure on local health services – freeing up A&E and much-needed GP appointments."

The majority of people feel comfortable managing everyday minor ailments such as coughs and colds. However, there are still 57 million GP consultations a year for minor ailments which take up, on average, an hour a day for every GP.

If you do need health advice in Lewisham this winter, you can seek it from:

  • Your local pharmacy – You can speak to a pharmacist without having to make an appointment. Your pharmacist can advise you how to look after yourself at home with rest and over-the-counter treatments. Many also offer the flu vaccination. To find your local pharmacy and the services it offers, visit www.nhs.uk.

     NHS 111 service – If you need medical help quickly, but your condition is not life-threatening, you can call NHS 111. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the free service is staffed by trained advisors and experienced clinicians who can assess you, offer advice and direct you to the right place to get the medical care you need.
  •  For more information and advice, visit the NHS website.