The ambulance service is calling on people to keep medication well stocked and be the eyes and ears of vulnerable friends and family over the festive period.
As people wind down for the rest of December, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) says that simple actions such as checking the medicine cabinet for a supply of the basics will help deal with minor illness through-out the holidays and into the new year. It also frees up the 999 service to treat the most seriously ill in the region.
During December 2013, the service received 6,686 calls to sick and unwell patients, including those suffering ailments which could be managed early on by over-the-counter medicines.
Tracy Nicholls, the service’s Directory for Clinical Quality, said: “A well-stocked medicine cabinet doesn’t have to be full of expensive brands as most pharmacy chains and supermarkets have own-label versions of many of these remedies.
“Use paracetamol if you have a temperature caused by coughs, cold and flu as well as things like earache, stomach ache, sore throats, general aches and pains. And remember to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.”
Those who use prescription medication should check for what over-the-counter medication they can take. Indigestion remedies can be useful, and oral rehydration salts can help avoid dehydration during a sickness bug. And to help prevent infections and viruses use basic hand hygiene – washing your hands with soap and warm water.
Tracy added that being good neighbour and relative will help to identify any onset of problems they might have: “By asking those living near you or a vulnerable relative whether they’d like you to call in on them, you’re doing your bit to help reduce their risk of illness or medical need. Many older people don’t see any relatives over the Christmas period, so with some community TLC, they can prevent the need for a 999 call.”
To find out more about EEAST’s winter wise campaign, visit http://www.eastamb.nhs.uk/news/Campaigns/wise-up-for-winter.htm or follow EEAST on Twitter at www.twitter.com/eastenglandamb.