The general public in Greater Manchester is being urged to do what they can to help ease the burden on NHS services this winter.

As the weather gets colder, NHS services inevitably get busier.

Many respiratory conditions such as colds and flu become more common in winter, and for older people and those with long-term health conditions, the cold weather can exacerbate problems.

An increase in illness also means that staff sickness tends to increase too, making the already stretched services more difficult to manage.

All NHS organisations have been planning for this winter and have been sharing and implementing each other’s best practice in a bid to reduce the strain as much as possible.

However, one of the best defences the NHS has is would-be patients being proactive and protecting themselves against preventable illnesses.

Mark Fisher, chief executive of NHS Greater Manchester: “The public want to feel reassured that their NHS is here for them this winter and can support them when they are unwell.

“It is and the public can help and do their bit too.

“We are urging the public to use the right service – use 111 to guide you if you aren’t sure, take up flu and Covid jabs if eligible and even if fighting fit, and to look after their health this winter.”

GP practices are already starting to feel the winter strain in the city region.

Messenger Newspapers: Infographic showing general practice level dataInfographic showing general practice level data (Image: NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care)

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Greater Manchester introduced a ‘pulse check’ designed as a temperature check of current demand and pressures facing general practice.

Practices are still encouraged to self-declare their current status by indicating low to normal demand rising to significantly increased demand and critical.

Of 421 practices declaring this week, almost 25 per cent are feeling a significant or extreme increase in demand.

Mr Fisher added: “We know winter is a challenging time for the health and care system though the reality is both that there has been very little let up in the pressure all year round, and that we spend a lot of time preparing in advance to ease pressures where we can.

“As we head into winter, I want to our staff across the health and care system for their ongoing hard work and commitment.”

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