We know this year is going to be harder than ever with flu, covid and winter bugs in circulation. However, there are lots of things you can do to stay safe and look after yourself.
Find out how you can access the help you need this winter.
Patients registered with a Manchester GP can get a routine booked GP appointment until 8pm on weekdays, and between 9am and 6pm at the weekend.
All GP practices in Manchester have a website where you can book an appointment online.
You can also use the NHS app to book an appointment and order repeat prescriptions. Some practices even have their own app.
If you need an appointment outside of normal working hours, ask the reception team. You will be booked in for an appointment at your GP practice or one near by.
Find out more about GP practices in Manchester.
A pharmacy is a great place to receive expert healthcare advice on the high street.
They can advise on a range of minor illnesses and can also help you decide if you need to see a GP or another health service.
You don’t need an appointment to speak to a pharmacist and many stores have separate consulting rooms to ensure your complete privacy.
Many pharmacists across Manchester are often open late and on weekends, and there are always some open over the Bank Holidays. To find a list of pharmacies open over the Christmas and New year period, visit the Greater Manchester Local Pharmaceutical Committee website.
If you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do, NHS 111 can help you.
NHS 111 is free to use and open 24 hours a day, every day.
It can be accessed by calling 111 from your mobile phone or landline, or online for people aged over 5 year olds 111.nhs.uk.
A trained medical professional such as a Dr or nurse will help you get the right care and can save you time, effort and unnecessary journeys.
They can even book you a timeslot in A&E if you need to go.
Same day care
Manchester has two GP led centres and two urgent care centres that provide patients with same day care.
If you need urgent medical care in Manchester, but don’t need an ambulance, you should call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk first.
NHS 111 are available 24/7 and can book you an Emergency Department slot if you need to go.
You will speak to a trained medical professional such as a Dr or nurse who will assess your need and advise you what to do.
There are many alternatives for getting the treatment you need, and this could mean you are seen quicker and possibly closer to home.
If you do need to go to the Emergency Department, the call handler will arrange a time slot for you.
You will turn up at your allotted time and register via an express lane and seen within 30 minutes of arrival.
This means you won’t be in the waiting area for very long and you can maintain social distancing.
Find out more about what the emergency department can help you with.
If you’re in pain and require urgent dental care, call the Greater Manchester Urgent Dental Care Service on 0333 332 3800 (freephone).
This service is available for anyone with a dental emergency – including those who are not registered with a dentist.
If you’re registered with a dentist, you can also call them – some practices offer appointments at short notice. If you don’t have a dentist, call NHS 111 for advice.
How you can take care of yourself
There are lots of things you can do to self-care. Getting your Covid-19 and flu jabs and making sure your medicine cabinet has what you need is a good place to start.
Get your Covid-19 vaccinations
Make sure you’re up to date with your Covid vaccinations.
You can get your first or second vaccine at any point and eligible people will be contacted to get their can get their third primary dose or booster jab.
Find out if you can get yours.
Get your flu jab
If you’re eligible for the free flu vaccine, get it now – it’s free because you need it.
Speak to your GP or pharmacy. You can even get your Covid and flu vaccine at the same time if you need to.
Regular Covid-19 testing
Testing is important to catch Covid-19 in people who may not have any symptoms. You can order your kit here.
Lateral flow tests should be used only if you don’t have symptoms. If you do test positive on a lateral flow you then need to book a PCR test to confirm the result.
If your result is positive then you are legally required to follow government guidelines and self-isolate.
If you need antibiotics, take the full course
Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, and most coughs and sore throats.
Remember to take the full course of your antibiotics even if you start to feel like you’ve fully recovered.
Not taking the full course will mean your body becomes more resistant to antibiotics in the future. Antibiotic resistance is a big problem and taking antibiotics when you do not need them can mean they will not work for you in the future.
Find out more about antibiotics on the NHS website.
Self care with your medicine cabinet
It’s important to make sure your medicine cabinet has what you need in case you get ill. Find out what kind of things you should have at home, on the NHS website.
Your local pharmacy can also offer you support and over the counter medicines. If you can’t afford the medicine you need, you may be eligible to get it for free under the Minor Ailments Scheme.
Find the full list of pharmacies open over the festive period.
Bronchiolitis / respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
Bronchiolitis is a common lower respiratory tract infection that affects babies and young children under 2 years old. The infection causes the smallest airways in the lungs (the bronchioles) to become infected and inflamed.
It is a common infection during the winter period and there have been an increased number of cases in summer this year due to the pandemic.
Bronchiolitis is caused by a virus known as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is spread through tiny droplets of liquid from the coughs or sneezes of someone who’s infected.
Most cases are mild and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks without the need for treatment, although some children have severe symptoms and need hospital treatment.
Taking care of your body and mind is very important and there are lots of resources available below to help you do this.
- Reduce your risk of alcohol-related harm
Avoiding slips, trips and falls
The cold weather often results in wet, slippery and icy surfaces. This can lead to trips, slips and falls which may cause injury.
There are several simple measures you can take to help prevent falls inside and outside the home, this includes:
- wearing practical shoes or boots with a flat heel
- using handrails if available
- keeping your hands out of your pockets, in case you fall
- using non-slip mats in the hall and bathroom
- mopping up spills to prevent wet, slippery floors
- ensuring that all rooms, passages and staircases are well lit
If you have a fall, keep calm and do not get up quickly. If you are not hurt and you feel strong enough, push yourself up using your hands and knees and look for a stable piece of furniture for support.
If you are hurt or unable to get up, try to get someone’s attention by calling out for help, or call dial 999 to ask for an ambulance if you have access to a phone.
The cold weather can lead to serious health complications and even make some health problems worse.
This risk is increased if you are 65 or older or if you have a long-term health condition. To keep well this winter, we advise that you:
- keep your home heated to at least 18⁰c
- keep your bedroom window closed with the curtains/blinds drawn at night
- keep active when indoors – visit the NHS website for useful tips and guidance
- wear several layers of light clothes to retain heat
- have at least one hot meal a day, as eating regularly will help to keep you warm
- have hot drinks regularly
Help with heating costs
You can also find out about heating and housing benefits on GOV.UK.
It is important to maintain your health and well-being during the winter months.
Keeping active is a free and easy way to improve your cardiovascular health, strength and general fitness. You can do this from the comfort of your own home without any equipment. Check out our recommended exercises below:
- 10-minute home workouts to improve your general fitness
- take it up a notch with our selection of gym-free workouts to improve cardiovascular health, strength and general fitness
- sitting exercises
- strength exercises
- balance exercises
- flexibility exercises
You can also visit your local leisure centre to avoid the cold weather conditions.
Long Covid support
For some people who have had COVID-19, symptoms can continue and last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or “long COVID”.
Symptoms of long COVID
There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection.
Common long COVID symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
What to do
If you’re worried about symptoms 4 weeks or more after having COVID-19, please contact your GP through either their website, the NHS app or by phone.
The NHS has also developed a brand new website called Your Covid Recovery, designed to support people recovering from COVID-19. It includes support on how you can help yourself as well as advice for family and friends supporting someone with their Covid recovery, and much more.
Your mind and mental wellbeing
The winter months can be difficult for many people’s mental health. The shorter days, colder temperatures and lack of sunlight are some of the factors which can contribute to disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
There are a range of self-help and professional treatments that are available to you this winter, these include:
- making the most of natural light
- avoiding stress
- exercising and eating well
- calling Samaritans on freephone 116 123 – 24/7 service
- texting “SHOUT” to 85258
- contacting your GP surgery and ask for an emergency appointment
- calling NHS 111 or visiting https://111.nhs.uk/
- visit the Every Mind Matters website and take their free Mind Plan quiz
- visi Mind’s website for more information
If your life is in danger or you are having suicidal thoughts call 999 or visit your nearest Accident and Emergency.
You may find yourself feeling sluggish in the winter months, but good food and nutrition can help you back on your feet.
Eat more fruit and veg
Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal for the whole family.
Find recipes for 10 warming hot meals.
Drink more milk
You are more likely to get a cold in winter, so make sure your immune system is in tip-top condition. Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of:
- vitamins A and B12
- calcium, which helps keep our bones strong
Choose semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk – rather than full-fat – and low-fat plain yoghurts.
Have a hearty breakfast
Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Eating a warm bowlful of porridge in the morning can help to boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre. Add a sliced banana, berries or other fruit for extra flavour and to help you hit your 5 a Day target!
Get more ideas for healthy breakfasts.