Help us prepare for winter
Winter is the busiest time of the year for the NHS. Our nurses, doctors and staff have done a lot to prepare our hospitals for the bad weather. Now we need your help. As a patient, family member, friend or carer you can do your bit this winter to help your NHS. By following these tips you’ll be supporting your hospital and wider NHS to deliver the right services, at the right time and in the right place.
If you're feeling unwell - act now
If you start to feel unwell it is always better to seek treatment early before it gets worse. You can check your symptoms and get advice on treatment for a range of conditions on the NHS Choices website or via Gloucestershire's ASAP website
If you want to speak to someone about your illness, but it is not an emergency, you can also call the NHS helpline 111. This service is staffed by a team of fully trained advisers including nurses and paramedics and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
You can also visit your local pharmacy for advice or medicine to help you get better at home. Many pharmacies have consulting rooms so that you can speak to them in private and all pharmacists will be able to advise you of what medication or further treatment you may require.
Save A&E for real emergencies
Our hospital Emergency Departments are busy places. The winter months bring additional pressures to our two A&Es.
If you have a minor injury or condition which you feel needs medical attention, but is not an emergency, it may be quicker to be seen at a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in one of the county's community hospitals.
It's important that you know where to go for help and advice, so if you feel unwell, please visit the ASAP Glos website which will show you where to get treatment for a range of common conditions and illnesses.
If you do have a real emergency and need our help, you can also see the live waiting times for our Emergency Departments before you arrive.
Help keep our hospitals virus free
Have you had vomiting or diahorrea in the last three days? If so, you shouldn't be visiting anyone in our hospitals.
Norovirus is highly contagious and is more likely to spread in areas where people are in close proximity. Public places like hospitals and care homes are susceptible to outbreaks and may result in ward closures and restricted visiting. Find out more
Get your flu jab
The flu jab is available from the NHs to protect you from flu and its complications. Flu can be unpleasant, but it you are otherwise fit and healthy it will usually clear up on its own. However, flu can be more severe for some people including:
- Anyone over the age of 65
- Pregnant women
- People with underlying health conditions such as long-term heart or respiratory disease
- Children and adults with weakened immune systems
Keep warm, keep well
Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. Find out more.
Gloucestershire County Council and partners have pulled together a webpage signposting people to services offering help and support at: www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/warmandwell
Getting to your appointment in severe weather
If you have an appointment or operation scheduled and you are able to travel safely, please attend as normal unless we contact you. Please don't travel to hospital unless it is safe to do so. If you can't attend an appointment or procedure please let us know by calling the number on your appointment letter. We'll be able to rearrange your appointment for you.
If you find that you aren't able to get to your appointment on time, don't worry you will still be seen, although it's possible your appointment time will need to be rescheduled. If you are able to let us know in advance - and it is safe for you to call - please ring the number on your appointment letter.
We will be ensuring that roads and car parks around our hospital sites are gritted and kept clear for patients and staff. Please take extra care when you are out and about.
Check the forecast
You can check weather forecast and flood warnings on the Met Office and Environment Agency websites.
What we're doing to prepare for winter
To prepare for winter, our Trust, in partnership with other NHS organisations in the county, has been working to ensure our essential services are maintained when demand for care is at its highest.
Key initiatives in our winter plan so far include:
- Extended opening hours for our Ambulatory Emergency Care units, which can now treat patients with a wider range of conditions
- Additional consultants appointed to our Older People’s Assessment and Liaison service, which works alongside the Emergency Department. The opening hours for this service have also been extended
- A range of initiatives which aim to improve the flow of patients through the hospital and allow us to safely discharge patients as soon as possible
- Working with partners at Gloucestershire Care Services to provide additional beds in community hospitals
- Better, more effective planning of elective surgery to avoid surges in demand and increase bed capacity
- Development of an adverse weather plan to help manage staffing levels during heavy snow, for example
- Encouraging both staff and vulnerable patient groups to have the flu vaccine to help us maintain staffing levels