SPARE a thought for the Accident and Emergency Departments at our local hospital at this time of year. Apparently, we are referring ourselves to them in record numbers.
The combination of respiratory infections which lay us low, especially the elderly, and the dreaded Norovirus which has closed whole wards at some hospitals, has put the NHS under great strain.
GPs and district nurses are also experiencing increased demands on their services while the ambulance service in the West Midlands took 650 extra calls than usual on one day alone just a few weeks ago.
I know that GPs and community health staff across the borough are working extremely hard to deal with this unprecedented demand and help relieve pressure on local hospitals.
We must spare a thought for these front-line medical staff as they are not immune from the bugs either.
But let’s see what we can do ourselves to help ease this pressure.
Our community pharmacists can dispense good advice on medicines that help us treat ourselves at home and we can stock up on the basics for the home-medicine cupboard.
This is an especially important time to keep an eye on elderly relatives and neighbours, making sure they are warm and well nourished.
Like most working mums, I have to make a judgement call about whether to bother the doctor and the difficulty of getting an appointment can give the necessary time to cure the situation.
There is also NHS Direct - 0845 4647 - for advice over the phone.
Locally, in Solihull we have an
out-of- hours doctors service you can contact if you feel you can’t wait until normal surgery opening hours, simply by calling your usual surgery number.
The Care Trust has also produced a free winter health advice booklet – call freephone 0800 783 2894 for a copy or look on www.solihull.nhs.uk.
But the motto is, look after yourself as best you can.