Firstly, congratulations to everyone who started the New Year by keeping an eye on their health in January; be it by eating sensibly or monitoring alcohol consumption.
I’ve heard some great success stories with many of you noticing a real difference in energy and mood levels. Of course a health kick in January can be of real benefit but it’s an all year round investment in our health and wellbeing where significant changes will be visible.
So, starting with the basics, it might sound obvious but we do all need to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. This can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks. Remember that other people, like older neighbours, friends and family members, may need a bit of extra help over the colder months too.
As for the year overall it might be time to start thinking about making some positive lifestyle changes, which I know can be easier said than done. But, putting the effort in now will put you in a better position to fight off infections than if you were to just let your health take a back seat.
As a GP, when talking to patients about making such changes I recommend our local Wellbeing Hubs (crawley.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk). These hubs provide information about free and low cost exercise programmes (including water based for those that struggle with joint pains), support to stop smoking and peer groups for those living with a long term health condition.
And it’s not just about physical health. Joining clubs and groups are a great way to meet new people. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, the NHS counselling service Time to Talk can also link you with a specialist who understands the impact this can have on your life. Many of my patients have found benefit in the support offered by the local health coaching service who can work with you to identify what is important to you and support you to make changes that can lead to improvements, support you to better manage any health conditions and look forward to a future with confidence.
It’s knowing about the range of services on offer that will help you take control of your own health, giving you a solid foundation for guidance should you become unwell. If you do have a medical concern I would advise you get help early, this should involve talking to your pharmacist or contacting 111 – the free number to call when you have an urgent healthcare need. Getting help early is important as symptoms can get worse if left untreated.
It’s also important that you understand your symptoms, which is where www.nhs.uk comes in. Just type in the symptom or condition that’s worrying you and the information is at your fingertips – what causes the condition, what medicines you can take safely yourself, and when to ask for more help from your pharmacist or GP.
Looking after your health and obtaining the right care, in the right place at the right time will have a direct and positive impact on services such as GP appointments and A&E, ensuring they remain available for those with serious and unavoidable conditions.
As part of this new monthly column we will be making a series of podcasts to further discuss NHS services and the challenges we face in its 70th year. This month I will be talking to fellow GP Dr Mark Lythgoe, Clinical Director at NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group.
Dr Lythgoe and I will be talking about our #HelpMyNHS campaign, ensuring you get the right care, in right place at the right time, and how to make the most of your GP appointment if you need to come and see us.
Listen to the podcast at: https://clyp.it/knflbx5s/widget
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