Winter is the busiest time for the NHS and the start of this year has been no different.

The usual winter pressures – alongside a rise in winter illnesses (such as Covid and flu) and industrial action – has meant this has been one of the most difficult starts to the year the NHS has ever faced.

We will always be here when you need us but remember there is a range of alternative help for those who have a minor illness or injury which doesn’t require care in hospital.

In 2022, 35 per cent of attendances to the Lister A&E could have been cared for in an urgent treatment centre, such as the New QEII in Welwyn Garden City.

It’s open seven days a week until 10pm and you will likely wait for a far shorter time than at Lister. If you are unsure about where to access care, NHS 111 online offers 24-hour urgent health advice.

Pharmacists (chemists) can give advice on medicines when you are suffering from a cough, cold or sore throat that doesn’t need to be seen by a doctor or nurse.

If you have an illness that just won’t go away, get in contact with your GP practice via their website and they can arrange the most suitable help for you.

If your loved one is in hospital – there are things you can do to help them get home quickly:

Encourage them to ask the doctors and nurses “When am I going home?” – There’s nothing better than a patient’s own bed and good sleep is important for recovery.

Help them keep a steady routine, getting up and out of bed where possible. The longer someone is in bed, the harder it is to get up and about as they get better.

Older people lose muscle power especially quickly and 10 days in bed will lead to the same muscle loss as aging 10 years.

Ask about the Hospital at Home programme – your loved one may be eligible to receive hospital-equivalent care from the comfort of their own home.

More information about the Hospital at Home programme can be found on our website.

Consider whether you would be able to take your loved one home when they are ready to be discharged – this will ensure a comfortable journey home and means their discharge won’t be dependent on our busy patient transport service being available.

Please help us to help you this winter by following the tips set out above; choosing the best way to receive the care you need, working with our doctors and nurses to help your loved ones get better quickly when they are in hospital, and keeping the Lister A&E free for those who need our help the most.

Thank you for your continued support.