HEALTH experts in South Tyneside are appealing to people to keep an eye on elderly relatives and neighbours as the North East braces itself for colder temperatures and snow this week.
Dr Matthew Walmsley, chairman of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We would urge everyone to be careful in icy conditions, but older people, in particular, are much more likely to slip and injure themselves if they head out in colder weather.
“When the temperatures drop in the next few days people can help keep elderly parents, relatives or neighbours safe simply by offering to go to the shops for them or gritting their garden path.
“The cold weather can also bring an increased risk of chest infections, heart attacks and strokes for the elderly, so even if they are staying indoors, a visit to make sure that they are warm and well can make all the difference.
“By looking out for the elderly during the wintry spell, you can help them to avoid an unnecessary trip to hospital.”
People with long-term conditions are also encouraged to make sure they keep taking their medication and have sufficient supplies so that they don’t need to go out for more during the cold spell.
People who do become unwell during the colder weather are reminded to ‘Choose Well’ and use the most appropriate service to keep A&E units free for emergencies and to save themselves an unnecessary wait.
Coughs, colds, flu-like symptoms and other minor ailments such as diarrhoea can be treated at home.
A pharmacist can also provide free advice for minor illnesses.
Anyone needing further medical advice when it’s not a 999 emergency can use the NHS Direct online symptom checker (www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/checksymptoms) or call NHS 111.
If symptoms persist and someone needs to see a GP when their surgery is closed, they need to call their local practice and listen to the message which will tell them how to contact the GP out-of-hours service.
People in South Tyneside can now call the new free 111 telephone number, whatever time of day or night, if they need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency.
For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/selfcare