Let’s Get Prepared for Easter Weekend

Published on Apr 05, 2023

People living in Northern Lincolnshire can get help and support through a new local NHS website if they become unwell over the Easter weekend.

Let’s Get Better, launched this week by the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, offers comprehensive resources, support and signposting to help people in our area live a healthier and more active life at all stages in their lives: from starting well, to living well to ageing well.

The launch of letsgetbetter.co.uk coincides with the run-up to the four-day Easter weekend, which begins on Good Friday, 7 April, when many GP practices will be closed.

Health leaders say Let’s Get Better can help people ‘choose well’ and signpost them to other health services like NHS 111 online, or their nearest available pharmacy, if medical help is needed. The website has lots of other information to help people get prepared for Easter.

Dr Nigel Wells, the clinical lead for the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, said: “It’s important people use NHS resources sensibly and choose the right care, first time, particularly when there’s an extended public holiday like the Easter weekend.

“This means getting help from NHS 111 for more serious health concerns and urgent injuries, to using local pharmacies for minor ailments.

“A wide range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home simply with plenty of rest and over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol, ibuprofen, and anti-diarrhoea tablets you can buy from shops and pharmacies. Often there is no shortcut to recovery – in many cases these things just need to run their course.”

Please only use Accident and Emergency departments or call 999 if you have a serious or life-threatening emergency.

Dr Wells continued: “A&Es across the region remain extremely busy – by choosing other health services if it’s not a life and limb emergency and using NHS 111 first, you will greatly help the NHS and those patients who really do need to be in A&E.”

Residents who need urgent medical help can contact NHS 111 online, via the NHS App or over the telephone – trained health professionals can advise on where to go for the best treatment or arrange clinical review through the GP out of hours service if appropriate.

If it’s something less serious like a cough, cold or rash, people can visit their local community pharmacy for advice and support. Pharmacy opening times may vary over the bank holiday weekend – you can get more information about pharmacies through letsgetbetter.co.uk.

Feeling well is not just about physical health – longer weekends can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression for some people. If you are struggling with how you are feeling, don’t try to do it alone, there is support available, from organisations like The Samaritans.

You do not need to have any credit or call allowance on your plan to call 116 123. You can also contact the Samaritans by emailing jo@samaritans.org.

In North East Lincolnshire you can call 01472 256256 and select option 3 for urgent mental health support. You can also visit the Live Well NEL Healthy Minds page for advice and healthy minds contacts https://livewell.nelincs.gov.uk/your-wellbeing/healthy-minds/. Or visit the Navigo website to find information about getting the support you need https://navigocare.co.uk/get-help.

In North Lincolnshire please call the RDaSH Mental Health support (Crisis Team) on 0800 015 021 for urgent mental health support. They also have a text service for anyone unable to use the standard telephone line (i.e. deaf or hard of hearing); you can text 07918 372894. Visit the North Lincolnshire Health and Care website for more support: https://northlincolnshireccg.nhs.uk/choose-the-right-service/mental-health-support-2/

Health and care workers to unlock their potential with offer of fully funded courses

Published on Mar 06, 2023

Staff and volunteers working in health and care organisations across the Humber and North Yorkshire area are being offered the chance to gain new skills and qualifications through fully funded courses with DN Colleges Group.

The Humber and North Yorkshire (HNY) Health and Care Partnership, an integrated care system (ICS) made up of all health, care, local authority and voluntary organisations across the Humber and North Yorkshire, has partnered with DN Colleges Group to offer courses relevant to both clinical and non-clinical job roles.

A bespoke learning portal has been built for health and care staff and volunteers, offering courses at academic levels 1, 2 and 3 equating to GCSE and A-Level qualifications.

Jayne Adamson, Executive Director of People, Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, said “There are approximately 1,000 qualifications on offer, giving staff, teams and volunteers a superb opportunity to gain further knowledge in areas relating to their own job, but also to help with skills development and career progression in the future.”

“We’re really excited about this partnership with DN Colleges Group to offer fully funded distance learning courses; to upskill our workforce, develop them for the future, and to support our people to attain their personal academic goals.”

Dan Wilson, Group Executive Director, DN Colleges Group, said “Our ambition is to help transform our communities through learning, so having the opportunity to support health and care staff and volunteers with learning new skills is fantastic.”

“Anyone can apply for a place, subject to funding eligibility and availability; if you work in health and care across Humber and North Yorkshire then you could be learning new skills and gaining new experiences through our courses. All courses are accredited and provide a nationally recognised qualification.”

Course areas include:

  • Business and management
  • Children and young people
  • Clinical
  • Core skills
  • Customer service
  • Mental health
  • Nutrition
  • Social care
  • Special educational needs and disability.

To find out more, or to enrol on a course, visit: https://dncolleges.ac.uk/nhshumberandnorthyorkshire.

Still opportunities to get vaccinated against flu in North Lincolnshire

Published on Jan 13, 2023

People across North Lincolnshire are being encouraged to get their flu vaccination if they have not already.

There has been a significant increase in flu cases across our region over the last few months and this is likely to continue spread over the winter. Local hospitals are also seeing a high number of patients, of varying ages, being admitted with flu.

It comes as the latest data shows there were 5,500 patients in hospital with flu across the UK last week and more than 9,000 patients with COVID.

Eligible groups, such as the over 50s, pregnant women, health and social care workers   and people with serious health conditions and their carers are being encouraged to take up the offer of a free NHS flu vaccine as soon as possible.

For many people, flu is a very unpleasant illness that can knock even the healthiest of us off our feet. For more vulnerable people, it can cause serious and life-threatening complications.

If you feel unwell with flu, it is advised you rest, keep warm, take ibuprofen or paracetamol if you can, to lower your temperature, and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. People are also being asked to keep indoor rooms well ventilated, if possible, without making them too cold.

Helen Davis, Director of Nursing and Quality (North Lincolnshire), NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, said:

“Flu isn’t just a bad cold; while most people get better on their own with rest, paracetamol and drinking plenty of fluids, they’re still likely to experience a few days of unpleasant symptoms such as a high temperature, head and body aches, difficulty sleeping and exhaustion.

“This is not something people would want to experience, especially over winter. GPs do not recommend antibiotics for flu because they will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.

“The best way to prevent against serious illness is to get vaccinated.”

A pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies. Call a pharmacy or contact them online before going in person. You can get medicines delivered or ask someone to collect them for you.

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • Have the flu jab as soon as possible (available free to certain groups via the NHS and for anyone – for a small fee – at their local pharmacy)
  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible
  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have a high temperature, or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities.

Flu vaccines are safe and effective. They are offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications. The vaccine is free for frontline NHS staff and care staff who are not offered it by their employer.

A free flu vaccine is given to adults who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who will be 50 by 31 March 2023)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk
  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • are a frontline health and social care worker and cannot get a flu vaccine through their employer.

You can have an NHS flu vaccine at:

  • a pharmacy offering the service (if you’re aged 18 or over)
  • some maternity services if you’re pregnant
  • sometimes, you may be offered a flu vaccine at a hospital appointment.

To book your free flu vaccine visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/book-flu-vaccination

Christmas and New Year pharmacy opening times in North Lincolnshire

Published on Dec 22, 2022

Over the holiday period a number of pharmacies will still be open to help with minor illnesses and ailments.

Please see below the pharmacies that will be open on the upcoming bank holiday.

As qualified healthcare professionals, pharmacists can offer clinical advice and over the counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses.

Remember to try and stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild.

If you need urgent help or advice and you’re unsure where to go, please dial 111 or go to 111.nhs.uk online.

Only dial 999 or attend A&E in a serious, life threatening medical emergency.

Patient advice on how to stay well this winter

Published on Dec 16, 2022

With winter just around the corner, NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership are advising their residents on the best ways to stay well during the cold weather.

Ordering repeat prescriptions

Residents in North Lincolnshire who are on repeat medication are being encouraged to place their orders this week to avoid running out.

In the lead-up to Christmas, pharmacy processing times may take a little longer than usual because of the volume of prescriptions.

Patients in North Lincolnshire should order their repeat prescriptions as soon as possible – allowing pharmacies at least 3 working days to administer.

Dr Nigel Wells, Executive Director Clinical and Care Professional for Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, said: “If you order your repeat medication directly via your GP Practice, please be patient – GP surgeries remain exceptionally busy at the moment.

“The easiest and quickest way to order your repeat medicine is via the NHS App, or GP Online Services – you can do this from the comfort of your own home, without having to leave the house.

“Before you order repeat prescriptions, please check what medicines you already have at home and only order the items that you need and please do not stockpile medicines. Excess supplies of medicines at home can be dangerous and is also wasteful. Once dispensed, medicines cannot be re-used and have to be destroyed.”

Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet

Having a medicine cabinet at home with some simple over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol, ibuprofen, and anti-diarrhoea tablets is recommended so you can treat any common illnesses or ailments yourself, without needing to see a GP.

Use the right service

If it is not an emergency, you can get medical advice 24/7 by calling NHS 111 or using the 111 online service, they have trained medical professionals available who can direct you to the most appropriate medical care.

While the majority of GP surgeries are closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, some pharmacies in North Lincolnshire will be open and are the best place to go for help with minor health concerns.

Your local pharmacy can provide clinical advice for minor health conditions common over the winter period such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.

Please check with your local pharmacy for their opening hours, as they will vary over the Christmas and New Year period. More information can be found on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-Pharmacy

Be aware of norovirus 

Norovirus outbreaks are more common this time of year, there is no specific treatment for norovirus, but you can take steps to ease your symptoms. If you’ve got sickness and diarrhoea, stay hydrated.

Don’t see your GP unless symptoms persist more than a few days, the best ways to avoid catching norovirus is wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet.

Look out for yourself and others

The colder weather and shorter days can affect your mental health, get out in the sunshine if you can, even short bursts can improve your mental wellbeing.

Older neighbours and relatives are more vulnerable in the winter months and may need a bit of extra help to stay well, make sure you keep in touch and check in on them when you can.

If it’s an illness or injury that is serious or life threatening, patients should always call 999 for an ambulance or go to the nearest emergency department.

NHS tells patients to continue to access emergency care during industrial action

Published on Dec 15, 2022

People should continue to come forward for the care they need during industrial action, the NHS has said today.

Deputy Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle said it is “vital” they come forward for emergency care during strikes.

The call follows messaging issued by the NHS last week across NHS websites and social media telling patients that those needing urgent medical care should continue to come forward, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

The NHS will contact anyone whose appointment has to be rescheduled due to strikes. If the NHS has not contacted you, please attend appointments as planned.

Patients should call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency (when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk), with ambulances prioritising situations with an immediate risk to life.

In non-life threatening situations alternative support will be available through NHS 111 online or through the NHS 111 phone line.

General practice, community pharmacies, and dentistry are not impacted by the action.

The NHS has been preparing extensively for industrial action and for winter, with plans already in place to manage additional demand including 24/7 control centres, additional bed capacity, more mental health support for ambulance services and more community falls services.

NHS Deputy Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle said: “No one should hesitate in coming forward for emergency care tomorrow – it is vital anybody needing non-life threatening care should use 111 online and people should always call 999 in a life threatening emergency.

“Across the country, pharmacies and GP services will be operating as normal and patients should reach out to these local services as they normally would.

“While strikes will cause inevitable disruption to services, local NHS teams have worked hard to maintain as many appointments as possible, so it is important people attend appointments as planned unless they have been contacted for it to be rearranged”.

44 NHS trusts in England are expected to be affected on Thursday.

NHS England and local NHS areas have plans in place to ensure lifesaving care continues and to minimise disruption to patient care.

Regional and national teams will support local areas needing any further assistance on strike days to help local areas coordinate responses.

Last month, NHS England issued guidance to local NHS employers on what derogations they should seek from local union representatives to ensure certain vital services such as chemotherapy continue.

NHS Medical Director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “NHS teams have worked and continue to work hard to minimise disruption from strikes due to take place this month but there will be disruption to services.

“While patients may see different types of staff striking on different days, or their local NHS services impacted by strikes on some days but not others, the things patients should do to access NHS care remain the same.

“People must call 999 in any life-threatening emergency during strikes as well as attending pre-booked appointments as planned unless they have been contacted by their local NHS for it to be rearranged”.

Strep A: What is it and what to look out for as a parent

Published on Dec 09, 2022

Parents are being urged to be alert for the signs of group A streptococcal (GAS) infections.

GAS is a common bacteria which can live harmlessly in our throats and on our skin.  Sometimes it can cause mild illnesses like sore throats, occasionally more serious illnesses like scarlet fever and, albeit rarely, very serious diseases such as sepsis, pneumonia or bone infections.

Across North Lincolnshire there has been an increase in cases this year, particularly in children under 10. Nationally, there have sadly been some deaths.

Most sore throats and coughs are caused by viruses that will get better by themselves without needing antibiotics. However, we want parents to know what to look out for and when to seek medical care.

Dr Nigel Wells, GP and Executive Director Clinical and Care Professional of Humber and North Yorkshire ICB, explained: “Group A strep is usually something that is present and nothing to worry about, however what it can do is sometimes cause scarlet fever which is a common childhood infection that can be treated with antibiotics and need little medical assistance.”

“The symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting and pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have the same sandpapery feel to the touch.”

Dr Wells continued: “If your child has those symptoms, the best thing to do is seek medical attention by contacting your GP or NHS 111 as early treatment with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection.”

While group A streptococcus bacteria usually only causes a mild infection producing sore throats or scarlet fever that can be easily treated with antibiotics. In very rare circumstances, these bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness – called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).

As well as an increase in notifications of scarlet fever, which is above the levels we usually see at this time of year, the Public Health Agency is also aware of a higher number of cases of iGAS being reported across the UK.

While iGAS is still uncommon, it is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms of illnesses caused by group A streptococcus bacteria and seek medical advice so that their child can be treated appropriately and to help prevent the infection becoming serious.

Parents should contact their GP if they feel:

  • their child is getting worse
  • their child is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • their child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • their baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39°C or higher
  • their baby feels hotter than usual when they touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • their child is very tired or irritable.

Call 999 or go to the Emergency Department if:

  • your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • there are pauses when your child breathes
  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake

Dr Wells added: “Please don’t put off seeking medical help if your child continues to get worse and if you child is experiencing any of the signs above relating to difficulties with breathing or experience blue lips or skin, call 999 or go to your nearest Emergency Department immediately.”

“Although scarlet fever mainly affects children under 10, people of any age can get it. Strep A infections are spread by close contact with an infected person and can be passed on through coughs and sneezes.”

Dr Wells continued: “So please practice good hand hygiene and remember to always, catch it (always cough or sneeze into a tissue, bin it (always throw the used tissue in a bin) and kill it (always wash your hands with soap and hot water).”

Please consider that emergency departments are very busy at the moment – including GP surgeries. If you feel that your child can stay at home or be seen elsewhere, such as a pharmacy, please do so.

For further information on scarlet fever, visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/scarlet-fever/.

Scunthorpe’s GP Access Hub set to open for the second year following success

Published on Dec 06, 2022

North Lincolnshire’s GP Access Hub is set to open in December following last year’s success and will remain there over the winter period to ease pressures and high demand.

Located in Scunthorpe, this service is for patients who require an urgent face-to-face appointment with a GP, but their own practice is unable to see them promptly due to staffing issues.

The Hub will be open Monday to Friday, from 2pm to 8pm, with 42 face-to-face appointments available each day for residents registered with a North Lincolnshire practice.

Patients cannot self-present to the Hub unless referred by their own practice, and details of the location aren’t being confirmed to prevent walk-in patients.

Tarek Mustakim, Operations Manager at Safecare Network, said: “A great way to measure the success of any healthcare provider is the feedback from the patients, and we are proud to be rerunning the service this year following the positive feedback we received last winter from our patients and their relatives.

“The Hub creates a centralised workforce model to provide extra support to the practices that may be struggling with staffing on a particular day. This support is very beneficial to patients as they are grateful to be seen face-to-face on the same day their concern is raised but also for the wider system as it relieves pressure on local acute services such as A&E.

“The service saw over 2,200 patients last year and was well supported and used by all 19 of our practices in North Lincolnshire. We expect it to be the same this year, and our practices will benefit from the additional capacity.”

Patients referred to the service are reminded to wear a face mask due to the high-risk environment for virus transmission.

The service will remain in place until the end of March 2023.

Feel better this winter – have your flu jab

Published on

Health officials are urging people to act now to protect themselves and their loved ones against flu this winter.

Eligible groups, such as the over 50s, pregnant women and those with serious health conditions are being encouraged to take up the offer of a free NHS flu vaccine as soon as possible.

There has been a significant increase in flu cases across our region over the last fortnight and this is likely to spread further between now and the festive period. Local hospitals are also seeing a high number of patients, of varying ages, being admitted with flu.

For most people, flu is a very unpleasant illness that can knock even the most healthy of us off our feet. For more vulnerable people, it can cause serious and life-threatening complications.

“Flu isn’t just a bad cold,” explained Professor Derek Ward, Director of Public Health for Northern Lincolnshire. “While most people get better on their own with rest, keeping warm and drinking plenty of fluids, they’re still likely to experience a few days of unpleasant symptoms such as a high temperature, head and body aches, difficulty sleeping and exhaustion. This is not something people would want to experience, especially over the festive period. GPs do not recommend antibiotics for flu because they will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.”

If you feel unwell with flu, it is advised you rest, keep warm, take ibuprofen or paracetamol to lower your temperature and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. People are also being asked to keep indoor rooms well ventilated if possible, without making them too cold.

A pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies. Call a pharmacy or contact them online before going in person. You can get medicines delivered or ask someone to collect them for you.

Professor Derek Ward continued: “There is also the chance of passing flu on to someone who isn’t in good health and this could cause them real problems. Many people need to go into hospital due to flu and sadly some will die. Flu can also cause real difficulties for hospital services, closing wards and causing operations and other treatments to be cancelled.”

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • Have the flu jab as soon as possible (available free to certain groups via the NHS and for anyone – for a small fee – at their local pharmacy)
  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible
  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities.

Flu vaccines are safe and effective. They’re offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications. The vaccine is free for frontline NHS staff and care staff who are not offered it by their employer.

A free flu vaccine is given to adults who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who will be 50 by 31 March 2023)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

You can have an NHS flu vaccine at:

  • your GP surgery
  • a pharmacy offering the service (if you’re aged 18 or over)
  • some maternity services if you’re pregnant
  • Sometimes, you may be offered a flu vaccine at a hospital appointment.

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You’re more likely to give it to others during the first five days of symptoms. Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

Professor Ward added: “Members of the public have helped reduce the spread of respiratory illness and saved countless lives over the past two years by following precautions – and we thank them for that. This winter, we all need to keep this up.”

School-aged children will be offered a vaccine at school or a community clinic. The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine is given to:

  • children aged 2 or 3 on 31 August 2022 (born between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2020)
  • all primary school children
  • some secondary school children
  • children aged 2 to 17 with certain health conditions

Babies and children aged 6 months to 2 years with certain health conditions will be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.

Children are very good at spreading flu. Vaccinating your child will not only protect them against flu, but will reduce its transmission to others and, therefore, protect your family, friends and vulnerable members of your community.

Protect yourself and your NHS this winter

Published on Oct 20, 2022

The NHS is urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible in the fight against both flu and COVID-19 this winter.

Health bosses are emphasising that vaccination is the best way to protect people from serious illness and prevent the local health and care system from being overwhelmed.

After what was the busiest summer on record, the NHS is preparing for a very challenging winter – a period in which respiratory illnesses are more widespread.

For many, the winter period can be a source of concern and worry. People with respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, can be particularly susceptible to the effects of cold weather, finding themselves shorter of breath and coughing more than usual. In addition, the risk of catching COVID-19 and flu this winter remains significant – with cases and hospital admissions rising across the region. Both viruses can be life-threatening. For some people, catching COVID-19 and flu at the same time increases the risk of serious illness, especially older people or those who already have health conditions.

As a result, all hospitals, GP surgeries and other healthcare settings across Humber and North Yorkshire, including Scunthorpe General Hospital and Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby, are asking visitors to wear face coverings (unless exempt) and to wash their hands regularly. For further details on this, please click here.

The number of patients occupying a hospital bed with COVID-19 has risen by 50% in the last month – with modelling suggesting half of beds across the Humber and North Yorkshire health and care system could be taken up by patients suffering from respiratory illnesses. It is therefore very important that everyone eligible, is vaccinated for COVID-19 and has had their autumn booster.

Even for the fit and healthy, people can still catch these viruses and spread them to more vulnerable people around them. Some of the people you meet may be at greater risk and it’s easy to pass these viruses on without knowing.

Professor Derek Ward, Director of Public Health for Northern Lincolnshire said: “We expect to see a wave of COVID-19 in Northern Lincolnshire during October/November and possibly another in January. There’s also the risk of the region being hit with a wave of flu cases at the same time so it’s particularly important that people take up the offer of vaccinations as soon as they can. Please also remember the basics – hands, face, space and fresh air. They protect against COVID-19, flu and lots of other nasty viruses that can make you feel quite unwell.”

The actions people willingly took during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic saved countless lives and made sure our health and care services were able to cope with large numbers of people falling ill. The NHS is calling for a similar effort this winter, where possible, so it can help care for and protect the most vulnerable patients in our community.

“This winter, we need you to keep doing everything you can to keep each other safe,” said Dr Satpal Shekhawat, North Lincolnshire GP.

“Health and care services in Northern Lincolnshire, like everywhere, are already extremely busy. We do expect to see more cases of COVID-19 in the coming weeks as people mix freely again and spend more time indoors as the weather gets colder. The risk of catching COVID-19 is highest indoors and in crowded places.

“More people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the pandemic. The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn or early winter before it starts spreading.

“You can help though. Your actions during the pandemic made an enormous difference and we need people to look out for each other in the same way again.”

People aged 50 and over, pregnant women, carers, frontline health and care workers, care home residents and people of all ages who have a weakened immune system or live with someone who has can get a seasonal COVID-19 booster. For more details about the autumn booster, please see A guide to the COVID-19 autumn booster – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The COVID-19 boosters are highly effective at increasing immunity and, offering a further dose to those at higher risk of severe illness this autumn, will significantly reduce the risk of hospitalisations and deaths over the winter.

Visit the national booking service: www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination

Most of the groups above will have also now been offered a free flu jab, including frontline health staff and staff employed by the following types of social care providers without employer led occupational health schemes: a registered residential care or nursing home; registered domiciliary care provider; a voluntary managed hospice provider; direct payment (personal budgets) or personal health budgets, such as personal assistants.

Younger people with some long-term health conditions are also able to get a free NHS flu jab, and since Friday 14 October, booking has opened for those aged 50 and over. If you are eligible, you do not need to wait for an invite to book an appointment. Primary school children are currently being vaccinated through the in-school programme, so make sure to complete the consent form provided via your child’s school, with years 7-9 at secondary school due to receive their flu vaccines later in the year. Pre-school age children aged two to three will also receive an invitation from their GP if they haven’t already.

You can find out about flu jab eligibility by visiting: Flu vaccine – NHS (www.nhs.uk).

DO

  • make sure you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or get your seasonal booster if eligible
  • have a flu jab this year
  • wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly
  • Catch a sneeze or cough in a tissue and dispose of it in the bin or flush it
  • open doors and windows to let fresh air in when meeting people inside
  • consider wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places
  • keep an eye on more vulnerable friends, relations, or neighbours
  • regularly clean surfaces you touch often

Don’t

  • touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • visit older or vulnerable people if you’re poorly (this includes if you have a fever, sickness or diarrhoea)

Remember, while there are cases of COVID-19 about, there’s still a risk you can catch it or pass it on, even if you’re fully vaccinated or you’ve had the virus before.

COVID-19 vaccination national booking service: www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination