Patient advice on how to stay well over the festive period

Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership has issued advice to residents on the best ways to stay well during colder weather.

With the Christmas holidays approaching, taking precautions and following advice can contribute to a healthier and safer winter season for everyone – while protecting NHS resources for those who need them.

Ordering repeat prescriptions

People who rely on repeat medications are urged to place their orders as soon as possible to ensure they do not run out. With the approaching holiday season, pharmacy processing times may be slightly longer due to the increased volume of prescriptions being issued.

Patients are advised not to delay ordering or collecting repeat prescriptions during Christmas and New Year.

Dr Nigel Wells, Executive Director Clinical and Care Professional for NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), emphasised the importance of patience when ordering through GP practices, saying: “GP surgeries are exceptionally busy at the moment, and staff are working hard to support patients.

“The quickest and easiest way to order 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. 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

You can tackle many common illnesses and ailments without needing to visit a GP by maintaining a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home. Over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol, ibuprofen and anti-diarrhoea tablets can prove beneficial, as well as getting plenty of rest.

Often there is no shortcut to recovery – in many cases these things need to run their course.

Use the right service

For non-emergency medical advice, NHS 111 and the 111 online service are available 24/7. Trained medical professionals can provide guidance on the most appropriate medical care.

While GP surgeries may be closed on specific holidays, some local pharmacies remain open and are the go-to for minor health concerns. Pharmacy staff 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.

People should check with their local community pharmacy for specific opening hours during the Christmas and New Year period using the NHS Find a Pharmacy service.

Look out for yourself and others

The winter months can have an impact on mental health due to colder weather and shorter days. Even short bursts of exposure to sunlight can enhance mental well-being.

Additionally, older neighbours and relatives are more vulnerable during winter and may require extra support. Regular check-ins and assistance can contribute to their overall wellbeing.

Emergency situations

In cases of serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, patients should immediately call 999 for an ambulance or proceed to their nearest emergency department.

Make sure you book your flu and COVID vaccine (if eligible)

There’s just a week left until online bookings for COVID and flu vaccines close – and the NHS is urging anyone still eligible for these vaccines to book an appointment and get potentially lifesaving protection ahead of Christmas.

The NHS online booking system, NHS App and 119 phone service will be closed for flu and COVID vaccine bookings from 15 December, making 14 December the last day to make a booking.

You can also check with your local pharmacy for flu vaccines.

Be aware of norovirus

Norovirus is more common during this time of year, and people are advised to stay hydrated if they are experiencing symptoms like sickness and diarrhoea – and avoid mixing with other people. If symptoms persist for more than a few days, make an appointment with your GP practice.

Preventative measures include thorough handwashing after using the toilet to reduce the risk of catching norovirus.

Visit Let’s Get Better for more advice about staying well over the festive period.