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Northumbria backs NHS ‘keep calm’ winter message

Friday, 04 July, 2014
Northumbria backs NHS ‘keep calm’ winter message

Staff at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are getting behind a regional awareness campaign to encourage members of the public to ‘keep calm’ and look after themselves well this winter.

At this time of year as the weather gets much colder, the NHS always sees more people being admitted to hospital with serious conditions such as breathing or heart problems or badly broken bones, as well as a very high volume of A&E attendances.

Whilst many people, especially vulnerable elderly patients, will need an emergency admission to hospital, there are also many people who attend A&E departments for much less serious conditions which could be treated more effectively by practising good self-care.  Of the 63,000 people who attended the Trust’s A&E departments last winter, only a quarter were actually admitted to hospital.

Together with NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in North Tyneside and Northumberland, Northumbria Healthcare is reminding people that many common winter ailments and illnesses are easily treated at home, or with advice from a local community pharmacist – with no need to see a doctor or nurse.

In a series of short online videos available on, staff from Northumbria Healthcare explain how to care for coughs and colds, using your local community pharmacist for advice, as well as how to stop the spread of the common winter vomiting bug known as norovirus. 

Dr Jane Weatherstone, GP clinical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust who works in North Tyneside accident and emergency (A&E) department features in one of the campaign videos.

Dr Weatherstone said: “During the winter months, the demand for NHS services increases significantly and it’s really important that A&E teams are able to quickly see patients who are critically ill with serious life-threatening emergencies – and not those who have common winter illnesses that can be much better treated at home.

“Things like diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu are all unpleasant but for the majority of normally fit and healthy people, these illnesses can be treated at home with rest, plenty of fluids and some over the counter medication from your pharmacist.  Attending A&E with these conditions will only spread germs amongst other more vulnerable and seriously ill patients.

“We would also stress that anyone suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit friends or relatives in hospital until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours as they risk passing on the illness to those who are already unwell.

“If you are suffering from a winter illness and your symptoms are getting worse and don’t clear up after a few days, then you should call NHS 111 or, importantly, telephone your local GP surgery for advice.”

The NHS is also keen to remind people to keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home this winter with things like paracetamol and ibuprofen which are effective at relieving most minor aches and pains.  The regional NHS ‘Keep Calm’ campaign is being led by CCGs across the North East and includes a dedicated website with information on how to look after yourself well:

The campaign will be seen on TV adverts, buses, social media and printed materials in GP practices, pharmacies and other venues across the region.  It is targeting normally healthy people who suffer a winter ailment with messages also being spread online @keepcalmne #keepcalmne.