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Stay well this winter

It may be cold outside but winter needn't be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family.  There are lots of things we can do to prepare for winter and stay well during the colder months.

Colds and flu in particular are spread from person to person very easily, this can be especially serious for those with health conditions, young children, elderly people and pregnant women.  Flu jabs are therefore essential.

Other common health difficulties during winter include chest infections and problems with breathing, so make sure you help prevent the spread of viruses by staying hygienic – wash your hands and carry anti-bacterial gel or wipes in your bag for when you’re on the move.

From keeping your house warm to protecting yourself from common ailments, find out how to stay healthy this winter on the NHS website.

Winter viruses

While contagious viruses are active year-round, winter is a prime time for norovirus, colds, influenza (flu), and other respiratory illnesses. 

These infections are highly contagious, so we urge people to stay away unless their visit is absolutely essential to help reduce the spread of infection within our hospitals.

Hospitals are full of sick people, many of them frail and elderly, so bringing germs into a hospital is the worst thing you can do.  We have an active programme of infection prevention but we can’t spot visitors who really shouldn’t be here.  Please stay at home if you’re unwell to help aid the wellbeing and recovery of our patients.

Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK.  It's also called the ‘winter vomiting bug’ because it's more common in winter, although you can catch it at any time of the year.  Norovirus can be very unpleasant but it usually clears up by itself in a few days.  Please stay away if you have signs or symptoms of the virus, and do not visit until you have been clear of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

Flu, short for influenza, is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes.  It is a major killer of vulnerable people.  People aged 65 and over and people with long-term health conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease, are particularly at risk.  If you have flu, please stay away until you are better.  The virus is highly infectious and outbreaks can happen quickly.

You can protect yourself, your family, colleagues and other patients by getting yourself vaccinated.  The flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.

When to worry? is a useful guide to coughs, colds, earache and sore throats in young children.

Having an ill child can be a very scary experience for parents.  If you understand more about the illness it can help you to feel more in control.  This booklet is for parents (and older children) and deals with common infections in children who are normally healthy. It is not meant for children who have ongoing health problems such as asthma, heart, or kidney problems. You should not rely on the advice in this leaflet for children who are less than 3 months old. Babies younger than this can respond differently to infections.

Help us to help you

Local GPs and healthcare professional have worked with the Vale of York CCG to provide useful information about the flu vaccine and how to self-treat many common illnesses and ailments to help you to stay well this winter.  Visit Help Us Help You to watch and learn.

When to visit an emergency department

An A&E department (also known as emergency department or casualty) deals with genuine life-threatening Emergency careemergencies, such as:

Less severe injuries can be treated in urgent care centres or minor injuries units.  A&E is not an alternative to a GP appointment.

If your GP is closed you can go to or call 111, which will direct you to the best local service.

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If your GP is closed you can go to or call 111, which will direct you to the best local service

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If you have returned from China, South East Asia, Iran  or northern Italy in the last 14 days please visit the website for further information.

If you have travelled from one of the countries or  areas listed on that website and have a fever, shortness of breath or a cough please do not go to the hospital or your GP. Stay at home and call NHS 111 for further advice, even if your symptoms are mild.

If you need to come to hospital for any other reason  please be reassured our hospitals are functioning as normal.