Corporate Information

Important advice for public ahead of busy winter period

Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust urging people to prioritise health ahead of busy winter period

The public are being encouraged to take steps to stay on top of their personal health, as the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (COCH NHSFT) prepares for what could be one of the busiest months of winter so far.

 Ahead of the festive season, Cheshire and Flintshire residents are encouraged to take precautionary measures to stay well over the winter period, including making sure their medicines cabinets are well stocked, taking note of the NHS services that are open during these times and ensuring they use the most suitable NHS services for their healthcare needs.

These include seeing a pharmacist for treatment and advice for a range of minor illnesses, your GP or calling 111 with an urgent medical problem.

They are also encouraged to seek medical help if they are feeling unwell to help prevent the need for a visit to the Emergency Department. Anyone who needs emergency care should continue to seek out the services of the Emergency Department or call 999.

The advice comes as it’s revealed that nearly 14% more people were admitted to the Trust in the first week of January 2023 than in January 2022.

Rates of people with colds, flu and COVID-19 who need hospital care are typically at their highest in January and symptoms in many patients who seek emergency care at this time are usually worse.

More people are expected to get flu and COVID-19 this year due to lower immunity and cold weather setting in sooner, which means the first few weeks of January could see a rise in patient volume.

This combined with scheduled industrial action both before and after Christmas will likely place additional pressure on the Emergency Department.

Practical tips to help keep winter illnesses at bay include wearing several layers of clothing, ensuring your home is adequately heated, and following a well-balanced diet.

Meanwhile, a regional-wide NHS winter plan is aiming to reduce delays in getting patients to the right place first time and avoiding delays in transferring care of hospital patients, and a crucial aspect of the initiative is the active involvement of relatives in the care of vulnerable family members, particularly the elderly.

Ensuring a safe home environment for potentially frail patients is vital, and families are encouraged to proactively prepare by ensuring access to necessary medications, maintaining optimal living conditions and having emergency contacts readily available. The Trust is encouraging relatives to closely monitor the health of elderly individuals and be able to seek medical attention quickly if symptoms of illness arise.

Cathy Chadwick, Chief Operating Officer at The Countess of Chester Hospital said:

"The role of familial support is really important in helping us to safely get a patient back home. When patients are in hospital, we encourage them to be as active and as independent as possible as this prepares them for their discharge and improves recovery.

The patient’s family, friends and carers can help with discharge arrangements in a number of different ways - such as arranging transport, putting the heating on, stocking the home with food and being available when the patient arrives home."

If you are sick and need medical attention, visit our website to help you choose which NHS service is for you

The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call, go online or use the NHS App to find out:

  • Where to get help for your symptoms
  • How to find general health information and advice
  • Where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine
  • How to get a repeat prescription
  • How to get an emergency dental appointment

If needed, NHS 111 can also arrange a call back from a nurse, doctor or paramedic or an appointment at the most appropriate local service including local pharmacies, urgent treatment centres, GP practices or A&E.