GP & Staff Login

Menu Close

Stay well this winter

Take a look at the advice below to prepare yourself this winter to make sure that you and your loved ones stay well.

Many of us get ill over winter, especially with coughs, colds and flu, but there are lots of things you can do to manage your winter illness yourself and help prevent catching it from others. 

Use your local pharmacy 

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and minor ailments. That means that you can drop in for advice and support on things such as coughs, colds and headaches without an appointment. Many pharmacies are in handy locations and are open evenings and weekends. You can use the NHS services finder to locate your nearest pharmacy. 

Look out for others

It is important to look out for elderly friends, neighbors and vulnerable people and check that they are safe and well through the winter. Make sure they are warm enough (especially at night) and have stocks of food and medicines so they do not need to go out in very cold weather. If you are worried about a relative or elderly neighbor, contact your local council,  ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 009966 or contact social services day or night on 0300 123 4042.

Think about which service is best

Use the NHS Symptom Checker which will help determine the right treatment for you.

If you need urgent medical attention but it is not an emergency, call NHS 111. One in four visitors to A&E could be treated elsewhere. Make sure you choose the right service so you get the right help, quickly. 

Keep basic medicines at home

Did you know you can treat many winter illnesses at home with some basic medicines? Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet can make a big difference – make sure you have enough to last until your GP surgery or pharmacy is open again.

Here’s what a well-stocked medicine cabinet should include:

  • pain relief such as paracetamol and aspirin (aspirin should not be given to under 16s or those who suffer with asthma)
  • ibuprofen syrups for children
  • mild laxative for constipation relief
  • cold relief products
  • rehydration mixes for those suffering from diarrhea and vomiting
  • indigestion remedy
  • a thermometer to check for fever
  • a range of bandages, plasters, non-absorbent cotton wool, and dressings for minor cuts, sprains and bruises

Remember to always follow the advice of your pharmacist, doctor or nurse when taking prescriptions and over the counter medicine. Read instructions carefully and only take the suggested dose.

Keep warm

A cold home can have a big impact on your health. One of the best ways of keeping well is to stay warm, you should:

  • keep your home warm - with the main living room between 18-21°C (64-70°F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16°C (61°F). 

  • wrap up warm - several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer,
  • keep active - by moving around at least once an hour and not sitting down for long periods of time,
  • eating well - try and have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day. 

For more information on grants and making your home warmer, you can contact the Warm Front Scheme free on 0800 3162805.

Have your flu vaccination 

Every year, a large number of people die from complications caused by flu – having your flu vaccination is vital. The flu vaccination is offered free of charge to people at risk, pregnant women, carers and some young children. You can find out more about why getting the flu vaccination is so important on the Stay Well This Winter website.  

Flu is serious and is different to the common cold. Symptoms include a high temperature, body aches and fatigue.

• Flu kills an average of 8,000 people every year.

• The free flu vaccination is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. These include people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions and children (aged 2-9).

• This year, we’re offering a more effective ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine to those aged 65 and over, which helps their immune systems develop protection against flu. We are providing the ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine, which offers protection against four strains of flu, to those aged 18-64 with underlying health conditions. In addition, we are offering the vaccine as a nasal spray to an extra school year (year 5), meaning all children aged 2-9 can be vaccinated.

• For older people this could reduce GP consultations by 30,000, hospitalisations by over 2,000 and prevent over 700 hospital deaths from flu in England.

• If you’re eligible, get your flu vaccination from your general practice or pharmacy to protect yourself this winter before the end of November.

• If you think you have flu, stay home and rest until you feel better. Call NHS 111 if you have a underlying health condition or feel really unwell.

• Aside from having your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands.

All static.png


Further information 

The NHS Stay Well website has lots of further information to help you and your family stay well over the winter in cold weather.

Download our flyer aimed at parents with young children here.

Examples of 'you said, we did'  

You said

We did

You said (again)

What difference did it make?

Patients and residents wanted the refresh of the strategic outline case (SOC) for hospital redevelopment to be comprehensive and to re-evaluate options relating to a new build hospital on a new site (even though those options had been discounted by the SOC submitted in 2017).


To view the full engagement report here


We carried out a more detailed refresh than NHSE/I had asked us to.


The refresh full retested the original SOC by looking again at various options, including building a new main A&E hospital on a new site, which formed part of an initial longlist. We analysed these options based on factors such as affordability and deliverability.


We carried out an extensive programme of communications and engagement to inform the refresh. This explained the process we were following.

As part of the public engagement patients shared their views. This told us:

·       Easy access to hospital facilities (including parking provision at Watford) remains important for residents.

·       Any hospital development must be able to meet future demands arising from new homes being built in west Herts.

·       Enthusiasm in some areas of west Herts (especially in Dacorum and in St Albans to a lesser extent) for a new centrally located hospital.  In other areas there was broad support for development scheme proposed in 2017 SOC.

·       Agreement from all sides that current condition of Watford General Hospital site is unsatisfactory. 

·       Having looked at and costed all options we concluded that redeveloping Watford as the main A&E hospital remained the only viable option within financial parameters.  

·       The refreshed SOC put forward a proposal to prioritise investment at WGH as this would have greatest beneficial impact overall for patients. We are aiming to make Watford look and feel like a new hospital within available finances.

·       Improved visitor parking at WGH will be the first development to take place on the site.

·       HVCCG and West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust have committed to work with the local councils and local transport providers to explore whether improvements can be made to public and community transport access to our hospitals.

·       The plan for WGH leaves space to create new buildings in future years should population growth create additional demand. 

·       We secured funding from the government based on the redevelopment plans we put forward in the SOC.


Some patient focussed information and communication is not written for a public audience and is not easy to understand.

We developed our reader panel to review all patient focussed information to ensure it is fit for purpose:




All patient / public focussed information is reviewed by the reader panel to check for easy read, plain English and clear.  This has included consultation material, patient letters, changes to service provider and medication.


Information on over the counter medicines, shortages and stockpiling medication was shared with the reader panel to review

·       Change wording of community pharmacy  which is not recognised by the public to local chemist

·       Change positioning of information to ensure key messages  to increase impact

·       Increase font size for easier read and correction of  typos and grammar


·       Information amended according to feedback

·       Helping to ensure that any patient / public facing information is clear, non-ambiguous and easy to read

Practices and their patient groups highlighted the need for additional funding to support their group activities

Working with patients, Healthwatch Hertfordshire, lead GP,  practice managers and our patient group network we have agreed an incentive scheme to encourage development of groups with a payment to support activities

·       Include patient group members in assessment process

·       Provide clarity on whether the funding has to be used for patient group activities

·       Provide guidance on how to develop patient groups

·       Incentive scheme amended in line with feedback

Patients who have been involved in service redesign, procurements and other CCG activities have suggested lessons could be learnt from their experience of involvement

We have set up a focus group in 2020 with patient representatives and staff to review how we recruit and support patient volunteers– to learn from your experience and make improvements where necessary.




Our PPI committee and local patient groups raised concern about lack of engagement with younger people as future users of the NHS

We have worked with our primary care nursing team and West Herts College to develop a session for their health and social care students. This includes an introduction to the NHS, information on local services, getting the students to think about their experiences and what good communication looks like

Feedback from the students following the sessions are here

·       Raised awareness with young people  of local health services

·       Session structure revised in accordance with feedback

Concern that provider services were not aware of what is expected from them in terms of patient participation when changes are proposed

Working with colleagues, NHS England and our patient and public involvement committee information on to be added to new contracts for 2020 to provide guidance.

Information to be added to 2020 shared with PPI committee for comment

·       Ensure early patient involvement  and communication when any changes are being proposed

Clear information on two week wait cancer referrals is needed to raise awareness of the importance of attending the appointment, an early diagnosis and treatment

Working with the lead Macmillan nurse,  patient information on initial referral by a GP on urgent two week wait pathway was drafted.


A focus group of public, experts by experience, carers and health professionals reviewed the information

·       Ideally leaflet should be printed in colour but equally clear if printed in black and white

·       Consider A5 booklet

·       Too much repetition

·       Use ‘gentle’ words with more consistent approach (questions/answers)

·       Change ‘prioritise’ to ‘very important’

·       Title too long, too many capitals: delete ‘suspected cancer’

·       Clarity that ‘other support’ can be accessed and useful within 2 week wait

·       Confirmed that ‘can I bring someone with me’ section is useful but could be shortened

·       Consider using FAQ approach to the information

·       Use ‘successful’ rather than ‘effective

·       Consider using symptoms / questions reminder box

·       Some disagreement re the use of the diagram – get rid of it or make bigger and put on A5 back page


·       The leaflet was amended based on all the feedback and distributed to GP practices in West Herts to give to patients

Following a brief introduction to GP group consultations  patient group network members requested a more detailed session to include GPs, practice managers and patients

On 18 July a co-creation event was included  nearly 50 primary care clinicians, GP practice staff and patients from local patient participation groups  to learn about group consultations and set a shared ambition for the benefits that could be realised by their introduction  in 18 months’ time.

In response to the question,

“In 18 months’ time, when group consultations are up and running, what will be different for….”


Discussions at the meeting summarised a co-created ambition, incorporating the feedback themes and produced a narrative to underpin the change that needed to be put into place to support the introduction of GP group consultations.


More detailed notes of the discussions are here



Information on the group consultations was shared with GP practices and practice patient groups.


Dr Jon Landy, Consultant Gastroenterologist at West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust asked for comments on proposed research project into bowel cancer testing

Information was sent widely through our patient networks and comments were invited on:

1.      If patients supported the study, felt it was important and had potential to enhance patient experience

2.      If there were aspects they felt should be changed so that it was better from a patient viewpoint

3.      Suggestions to improve the patient information sheet (PIS) that would make information more accessible to patients

Patients fed back to Dr Landy, with a number of suggestions based on the questions posed

·       The feedback suggested that the study was reasonable regarding patient experience and no changes were necessary to study procedures that were set out to minimise any discomfort or risk to participants

·       the protocol would not be shared with patients as it was considered too technical but the patient information sheet was useful

·       Descriptions and explanations of polyps and colonoscopy  were added to the PIS

 To view more information  here




Sign up for more information on local services and health updates