Winter Advice

Winter is a time when demand for health care increases. Flu, sickness and diarrhoea bugs are rife and the cold weather can be a killer for the elderly. Icy pavements and roads mean more people are injured by slips and falls and road accidents can also increase.

We have pulled together lots of information to help you find the best place to get help if you fall ill or have an accident this winter. Visiting Accident and Emergency, or dialling 999 for an ambulance, should only be done for serious accidents and emergencies.

Read on to find out alternative sources of help and tips for staying warm and safe this Winter.


Minor Injuries Units

Not all accidents are emergencies – so you should not automatically go to A&E or dial 999 in every case.

If you suffer a minor injury the best place to get help – 24 hours a day, seven days a week -  is one of the Trust’s two minor injuries units.

They are:

Samuel Johnson Community Hospital, Trent Valley Road, Lichfield, WS13 6EF


Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital, Mile Oak, Tamworth, B78 3NG.

Nurses are available to treat injuries such as:

  • sprains and strains
  • wound infections
  • minor burns and scalds
  • minor head injuries
  • insect and animal bites
  • minor eye injuries
  • injuries to the back, shoulder and chest



Your local pharmacist is a great source of help and advice for many winter ailments such as coughs, colds, sore throats, flu, sickness and diarrhoea. Over the counter remedies can bring relief to many symptoms – and in a lot of cases the best advice is to self-treat with lots of rest, drinking plenty of fluids and keeping warm.

Accident & Emergency


There are cases when A&E IS the correct thing to do.

Dialling 999 should only be done in a genuine emergency. To ensure seriously ill and injured patients are treated as quickly as possible, people whose call is not serious should consider other healthcare options rather than calling 999. These could include:

  • self-care at home
  • talking to your local pharmacist
  • visiting or calling your GP
  • calling NHS 111 
  • attending a minor injuries unit
  • making your own way to your local A&E department (arriving in an ambulance does not mean you will be seen any quicker)

Always call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at risk.

A&E departments assess and treat patients with serious injuries or illnesses. Generally, you should visit A&E for life-threatening and serious emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
  • persistent, severe chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • fractures

Severe weather

Getting to your appointment

If you have an appointment or operation scheduled and you are able to travel safely, please attend as normal unless we contact you.

Please don't travel to hospital unless it is safe to do so.  If you can't attend an appointment or procedure please let us know by calling the number on your appointment letter. We'll be able to rearrange your appointment for you.

If you find that you aren't able to get to your appointment on time, don't worry you will still be seen, although it's possible your appointment time will need to be rescheduled. If you are able to let us know in advance - and it is safe for you to call - please ring the number on your appointment letter.

Please take extra care when you are out and about.

Winter driving advice

Simple steps you can take to help you stay safe on the roads in wintry weather.

When snow or icy roads are forecast you should adjust your driving to suit the conditions. Black ice isn't always visible and so can be an even greater hazard for both motorists and pedestrians. Black ice may be formed when rain or drizzle fall on a road surface which is at a temperature below zero.

Antifreeze - check coolant level regularly and, if required, top-up with a mixture of the correct type of antifreeze. Your garage should check concentration to ensure adequate cold temperature protection.

Battery - the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold. Get it checked and replaced if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure.

Fuel - keep to at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delays.

Lights  - check and clean all lights regularly to make sure you can see and be seen clearly. Carry spare bulbs.

Tyres - should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Consider winter tyres for improved safety. Check pressures at least every fortnight.

Windscreen - reduce dazzle from the low sun by keeping the screen clean inside and out.  Now is a good time to renew worn wiper blades.

Screen wash  - use a 50% mix of a good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing in frosty weather.

Locks and door seals - stop doors freezing shut with a thin coat of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals.  A squirt of water dispersant (WD-40) in locks will help stop them freezing.

Winter walking advice

It is important to wear sensible, sturdy shoes if you are walking in icy conditions. Boots and walking shoes often have thick rubber soles with good tred which make walking safer . Keep warm with hats, gloves and coats.

Stay warm and well

Keeping warm over the winter months can help you stay well.

Those aged over 65 and suffering from a disability or a long-term health condition such as heart, lung or kidney disease are more vulnerable to becoming ill in cold weather.

Last winter (2012/13) in the UK, there were 31,000 deaths linked to the cold weather.

Government's advice on reducing cold-related illness includes:

  • Try to keep your home warm. Keep your main living room at around 18-21°C (65-70°F). If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before you go to sleep. You can also use a hot-water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you're in bed.
  • Eat well. Food is a vital source of energy, which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.
  • Wrap up warm, inside and out. Layer your clothing to stay warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.
  • Check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they're safe and well. Make sure they're warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather. If you're worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66. 

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