Keep well this winter

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Help your NHS by choosing the right healthcare option.

The NHS is here for you should you suddenly become ill or get injured. To help you be seen in the right place, at the right time by the right healthcare professional you need to use the most appropriate service.


You can treat many ailments and illnesses at home such as coughs and colds, sore throats, hangovers and minor cuts and grazes. Keep a stock of medicines such as paracetamol and supplies of plasters and antiseptic.

Visit your pharmacy for treatment of minor health problems

Pharmacists are trained medical professionals that can advise you on the best treatment for common heath conditions such as tummy troubles, aches and pains, constipation, diarrhoea and eye irritation. 

There are lots of pharmacies across Suffolk and north east Essex and, providing you do not test positive for coronavirus, you can walk in without an appointment. Find a pharmacy – NHS (


Your GP practice is open but the way you access it has changed

Many GP practices are using triage systems so they can offer help to more people, more quickly and conveniently. They may ask you to contact them through an online platform, or via telephone if you do not use the internet. A face-to-face appointment can be arranged when this is needed.

Learn more about virtual consultations

Get in touch with your GP practice if you notice any changes in your body such as a lump in your breast, a difference in your bowel habits, unexplained weight loss, moles that appear to change or if you develop a cough that lasts for three weeks or more.

There are lots of different kinds of healthcare professionals working in your GP surgery alongside your GP. They each have distinct roles and specialist skills.

When you contact the surgery, you will be asked a few questions about the reason for your call and offered an appointment with the person who is best placed to help you.

Learn More about the different specialists working in GP practices. Please note that your GP surgery may host some, but not all of these roles.

Use NHS 111 online or call 111

Sometimes you know something doesn’t feel right but you also know it’s not an emergency. If you can’t get to your GP practice or your local pharmacy is closed visit Get medical help – NHS 111 or call 111. By using NHS 111 you will be accessing safe advice that will help you get to the right healthcare service when it’s not an emergency.

NHS 111 is a free number that you can reach 24 hours a day. For a BSL interpreter visit

999/Emergency Department (A&E)

These emergency services should only be used for life-threatening serious illness or injury. Please help other people and don’t call 999 or visit emergency departments unless it really is necessary. This means that we can ensure that people who need emergency care can get it as quickly as possible.

Support with your mental health and emotional wellbeing

Looking after our mental health is just as important as looking after our physical health. There are services that will support you with your mental health. Please contact the service below which serves the area where you live.

North East Essex –  Therapy For You in South East and North East Essex

Suffolk –  Wellbeing Suffolk

Emergency mental health support

Samaritans and the NHS

If you feel you are in crisis, experiencing feelings of despair or are suicidal, you can contact the Samaritans or the NHS:

Telephone: 116 123 or NHS 111 (and choose the mental health option)

If you have coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms

Remember if you have symptoms of coronavirus you must not walk-in to your GP practice, pharmacy or hospital. If you need help in an emergency please tell the 999 call taker if you either have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus, and mention this to paramedics on arrival.

The advice for people with suspected coronavirus remains the same, stay at home and self-isolate. If you think you have the symptoms of coronavirus, such as a high temperature, loss of taste or smell or a new continuous cough, please use the online NHS 111 coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help. If you are unable to use online services then you should call NHS 111.


Please get your Flu vaccination from your local GP or pharmacy. To help us get information on flu jabs into the community, please consider printing and distributing some of our translated and large print leaflets.

Long-term conditions

When you have a long-term condition, it’s important to take care of yourself and follow the advice of your GP practice and consultants so you can prevent your condition from worsening or getting complications.

View or download the following leaflets for advice on taking care with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes and heart failure.

Taking care with asthma

Taking care with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Taking care with Diabetes (type 1)

Taking care with Diabetes (type 2)

Taking care of your heart

Prepare for wintry weather

Take up offers of vaccinations for COVID or flu.

Have your heating system serviced before winter arrives. Cold weather can set in as early as October.

Keep some food supplies in a cupboard or freezer in case you can’t go out for a few days because of the weather.

Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time. Allow 5-7 working days for your local GP surgery and community pharmacy to safely process and dispense your prescription. Ask about having your prescription delivered to your home.

Keep cold, flu and sore throat remedies at home. You can ask for advice on what to stock up on at your local pharmacy.

Icy pavements and roads can be very slippery. Consider fitting a grab rail if you have steps at your front or back door.

Take extra care if you go out and wear boots or shoes with a good grip on the soles. Some people choose to use a stick for balance.

Keep an eye on family, neighbours or friends if winter weather conditions may stop them getting out and about.

Ask for help if you feel lonely or need practical support.

Useful resources are listed elsewhere on this website. Our Stay well for surgery or treatment pages list organisations that can help with financial and housing problems, transport difficulties, loneliness and other issues. 

Staying Well this Winter guide

With all the different ways to access health services, it can be confusing to know the best place to go.

Our guide to local health services in Suffolk and North East Essex can help you make the right choice. Click on the following link to view or download the guide:

Help us spread the word

It’s really important that everyone knows which service to use when they have a healthcare need. Help us get the word out by sharing our Facebook or Twitter post.

Resources for healthcare professionals

A winter communications toolkit has been developed for GPs and pharmacists to use. This toolkit includes posters and leaflets, articles for GP websites and suggested social media activity. It also provides links to other resources and promotional for national campaigns from NHS England, Self Care Forum and PHE.  The toolkit will be updated on a regular basis to ensure the most up-to-date resource are available at all times.

Autumn/Winter resources for GPs

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