Keep well this winter

As health services such as GPs, walk-in centres and A&E are busier than ever, the best way to avoid long waits is to prevent health and wellbeing issues getting to the point of needing urgent medical help. This could make a huge difference to health and care services which are working incredibly hard and will be doing over the coming winter months.

This page aims to provide useful information to access support or helpful information to help you to support your friends and loved ones throughout the winter period.

Health and care organisations are asking for support from people across Lancashire and South Cumbria to make a real difference in your community this winter by helping to look out for your friends, neighbours, loved ones and those who are most vulnerable and at risk from flu and Covid-19.


Urgent services and support

Contacting NHS 111 first means you can be booked into A&E or directed to an alternative local service if it’s more appropriate. You’ll help us ensure you receive the right care in the right place, at the right time:

The Mental Health Crisis Line is available for you to call if you need to speak to someone urgently about your mental health, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 0800 953 0110 for support and signposting to further services. More information is available at:

This festive season Santa’s chief h’Elf advisor, Harry The Health Elf, is visiting Lancashire and South Cumbria to watch over all of the children in the region and make sure that they are being healthy and keeping safe over winter.

Harry will send word back to Santa for his list, but unlike his mischievous cousin the Elf on a Shelf, Harry The Health Elf will only do nice healthy things like eating fruit and do good things that will keep children safe and well.

To help spread his healthy messages, Harry has made a special advent calendar containing video messages for all of the children, which can be used by schools or community groups across the region (each calendar door will only open on the exact date). Over the 24 days of Christmas Harry will share a special message every day.

You can download and print this letter from Harry to send to children.

If anyone would like to share Harry’s messages over their social media pages, you'll find the suggested posts below. Don't forget to #HarryTheHealthElf if you share your own messages or photos and tag @HealthierLSC too!

1 December

Harry the Health Elf says hello and wishes you all a Merry Christmas. Let's see what he will say over the next 24 days #HarryTheHealthElf #MerryChristmas 

2 December

Harry the Health Elf says that if you have a cough then make sure you catch it in a tissue and throw the tissue into a bin. This helps to stop germs spreading #HarryTheHealthElf

3 December

Harry the Health Elf is reminding all children that this #winter all schoolchildren can get a #fluvaccine - this is the best way to keep those horrible flu bugs away and keep you healthy over #Christmas #HarryTheHealthElf 

4 December

Harry the Health Elf is asking children to let your parents or carers know if you feel unwell and just to be safe, if you do have a cough or a cold, best not to visit friends and family until it has gone away #HarryTheHealthElf

5 December

Covid-19 - is a virus which can make people feel very poorly. To keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy this winter #HarryTheHealthElf asks that everyone who is old enough has the #COVID19 and flu vaccine this winter.

6 December

When Harry The Health Elf coughs or blows his nose, he always washes his hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds to keep away germs and bugs. Why not try singing a #Christmas song while you wash your hands? #HarryTheHealthElf

7 December

Harry the Health Elf is asking all children to call elderly relatives and neighbours or send them a #Christmas card. It's important that people don't feel lonely at this time of the year and a phone call or card can mean the world. #HarryTheHealthElf

8 December 2021

When it's cold outside, it's important to fill our tummies with hot, warm, healthy food. So Harry the Health Elf wants all children to all of their food. This helps to keep you happy and healthy. #HarryTheHealthElf

9 December 2021

We all like to tuck into those selection boxes and tubs of chocolate over #Christmas, but Harry the Health Elf is reminding all children that too much sugar can be bad for our health, in particular for our teeth! #HarryTheHealthElf

10 December 2021

#Winter can bring with it many common bugs and illnesses that children can catch such as #RSV #Asthma and #Bronchiolitis. Harry the Health Elf suggests that you ask your parents and carers to know what to look out for on - #HarryTheHealthElf #NHS111

11 December 2021

#HarryTheHealthElf says that to stay healthy you need to stay safe, so please wear bright reflective clothing so that car drivers and other road users can see you.

12 December 2021

Playing outside in #winter can be lots of fun, but Harry the Health Elf wants all children to wrap up warm with a coat, hat, scarf and gloves. This way you can have fun and not catch a cough or a cold. #HarryTheHealthElf

13 December 2021

It might be cold outside but Harry the Health Elf knows that it's still important to get outside in the fresh air to play and get exercise. #HarryTheHealthElf

14 December 2021

When playing outside, Harry the Health Elf always makes sure he's a little bit more careful because it is easy to slip, trip and fall because of ice. Not all ice is easy to see as well. So please keep safe! #HarryTheHealthElf

15 December 2021

Harry the Health Elf says that your parents and carers know that if you are feeling poorly, but they're not sure what is wrong. That they can visit NHS 111 online by visiting or call 111 where they can speak to someone who can help #HarryTheHealthElf

16 December 2021

Harry the Health Elf is reminding all children that if you are poorly and need to see a GP then they are there for you. This can even be in the evening after school with #extendedaccess and some GP practices will even be open on Christmas Day and Boxing Day #HarryTheHealthElf

17 December 2021

Harry the Health Elf visits his local #pharmacy whenever he needs advice for common #winter bugs like colds. Your pharmacist can treat many common illnesses and prescribe #medicine like #calpol. #HarryTheHealthElf

18 December 2021

Harry the Health Elf suggests that your parents or carers have a well stocked medicine cabinet at home. This should include plasters, first aid kit, calpol and for the grown ups, paracetamol and ibuprofen. #HarryTheHealthElf #HelpUsHelpYou

19 December 2021

Over #Christmas and #NewYear2021 the #NHS is there for you and your family if you are poorly and unwell. Harry the Health Elf recommends your parents and carers visit your local (CCG/Trust) website for useful information about where to find the help you need. #HarryTheHealthElf

20 December 2021

@NWAmbulance hopes you never have to call 999 but if you do #HarryTheHealthElf says it is a good idea to know how to dial 999 and use a phone, your address, postcode and how to open the door to the ambulance service. Ask your guardian for help with this.

21 December 2021

#Christmas can be hard if you have lost a loved one, but help is if you need to speak to someone about how you are feeling. Harry the Health Elf wants to let you know that it's going to be ok. There are people you can talk to including your teachers #HarryTheHealthElf

22 December 2021

We all like to eat sweets over the #Christmas holidays, but #HarryTheHealthElf is reminding all children that to stay healthy and strong it's important to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

23 December 2021

#HarryTheHeathElf always makes sure that he brushes his teeth properly twice a day. It’s important to keep teeth healthy and strong. If you're not sure how to brush properly ask your parent or carer for help.

24 December 2021

Harry the Health Elf wants to wish all the children in (INSERT LOCAL AREA) a very #MerryChristmas.

Resources to keep you well

Here are some helpful resources to support yourself, family members and friends this winter.

Advice from Dr Andy Knox

Watch this video from Dr Andy Knox for some simple actions you can take to stay well this winter.

Dr Andy Knox gives 6 quick tips on how to stay well this winter.


Hello there! My name's Andy Knox, I'm a GP and a Director of Population Health in the NHS and I'm going to give you six quick tips about how to stay healthy and well this winter.

A - Ask for help. If you're struggling with your mental health, ask for help. If you're struggling with your physical health, especially if you've developed one of these new symptoms: you're losing weight without meaning to, you're bleeding from somewhere that you don't normally bleed from, you've developed a lump or bump somewhere in your body that you don't normally have one, you've got a mole that's gone darker and started bleeding, you've got headaches that are waking you from your sleep, you've got chest pain or new breathlessness, then ask for help. Ring us, as your GP we're always there for you, and we can think of the best way to help you out.

B - Blood pressure. We want everyone's blood pressure nice and low this winter to protect us from having heart attacks and strokes. The magic number 135 over 85, we want it less than that. Or if you've previously had a heart attack or a stroke or you've got diabetes, less than 130 over 80. So, if you're monitoring your blood pressure or you're concerned about it, give your practice pharmacist or practice nurse a ring. Let's get your blood pressure nice and low.

C - Covid, I know it's tough but we've got to keep our game switched on. Wear your face mask. Keep socially distance - more than two meters. Make sure you're washing your hands nice and regularly. Follow the rules in your particular tier in the country. And if you've got symptoms get yourself tested. And if you're positive please stay isolated for the full 14 days and protect the rest of your community.

D - Diet. We've got a bit of a sugar addiction in this nation. We need to curb it. Especially going into this winter to reduce our risks. So, we're going to recommend: low sugar, low carbohydrate, help us get into a more healthy weight, low salt, low alcohol. Instead try and eat a rainbow diet of vegetables every day and have more protein and vitamin B in your diet.

E - Exercise. We're not all going to look like Joe Wicks or Davina McCall but we can all make healthy choices around exercise. If you can get out for a 20-minute walk every day, or do some hiit training in front of the tv, or even just some chair-based exercises. Whatever you're able to do make a healthy choice around exercise every day.

F - Have a flu jab. If you're entitled to one on the NHS, please get it done. Let's keep COVID low and flu low and all stay healthy and well this winter.

Thank you. 


A - Ask for help

If you're struggling with your mental or physical health, ask for help from your GP or mental health services.

B - Blood pressure

Keep your blood pressure low to protect you from heart attacks and strokes.

C - Covid

Wash your hands regularly and wear your face mask where required, especially in indoor public places. If you've got symptoms, get a test and self-isolate.

D - Diet

Eat a healthy diet – low sugar, low carbs, low salt, low alcohol. Eat lots of vegetables, more protein and vitamin D.

E - Exercise

Try and get out for a 20-minute walk every day, or do some high intensity training at home or even some simple at-home or chair-based exercises.

F - Have a flu jab

If you're entitled to a flu jab on the NHS, get it done to help you stay healthy and well this winter.

Health and care organisations are working together with community organisations and groups to support those who are most vulnerable in our communities such as people with diabetes, respiratory conditions, those who are frail and those who are overweight.

If you, or your family members, have any of these conditions, there are services in place locally to help with staying well and to reduce the risk of becoming ill this winter.

We have a number of short guidance videos to help you stay well this winter and treat any common ailments or illnesses.

Help us help you

There are some things you can do to help stay well this winter. Take a look at the information in the drop down boxes below.

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It's offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.

Flu vaccine and coronavirus (Covid-19)

Flu vaccination is important because:

  • if you're at higher risk from coronavirus, you're also more at risk of problems from flu
  • if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill
  • it'll help to reduce pressure on the NHS and social care staff who may be dealing with coronavirus

If you've had Covid -19, it's safe to have the flu vaccine. It'll be effective at helping to prevent flu.

Find out more about the flu jab on the NHS website (opens in new window).

Get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get tested by a doctor or a public health professional or by your local council.

The viral detection test, which tells you whether you currently have coronavirus or not is a swab test in which two separate viral swabs, a nose swab and a throat swab, are taken. Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms can ask for a test.

You should only ask for this test if you have the symptoms now. If the test is to be successful you need to get it done in the first 5 days of having symptoms. Do not wait – you should ask for the test as soon as you have symptoms (opens in new window).

Find out more about testing here.

Please attend if you are asked to.

Together with hospital trusts across the region, Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance is reassuring people that it is safe to attend cancer appointments during the coronavirus pandemic. People who are being tested or treated for cancer are being urged to keep their appointments.

New measures are in place to help protect patients and staff from coronavirus, it is important to not delay cancer treatment. Cancer assessment and treatments are still happening during the pandemic.

If you have any concerns about cancer, please contact your GP straight away.

Read more about cancer appointments during COVID-19 on the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership website

If you have a dental issue during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that you know how to access help when you need it. 

All dental practices in the North West are now open and have resumed face-to-face care. Due to the requirements around personal protective equipment and infection protection and control measures all dental practices are currently unable to see as many patients as before and may not yet be able to offer the full range of services due to increased infection, prevention and control measures.

If you need dental help or advice, please contact your dental practice over the phone first, rather than in person. You will be assessed over the phone and may be given advice, medication or a face-to-face appointment if needed.

Read more about accessing dental help here.

Lancashire and South Cumbria Resilience Hub

Provided by Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust [opens in new window], the Resilience Hub is intended as a support system for all public sector workers and volunteers who have worked through the Covid-19 pandemic and their families.

This includes everyone from those who work in the NHS, local councils, ambulance service staff, care home workers, those working in social care and community workers.

It is hoped that the Hub will eventually be able to operate as a resource for everyone who has felt the psychological strain of Covid-19.

Visit the Resilience Hub webpage.

Support from partners

Keeping well is more than accessing health services, it is about receiving support from all aspects of our wellbeing. Councils have an important role in providing advice and support services. 

The following are Councils in Lancashire and South Cumbria which each provide a range of support and advice around health and wellbeing. Pick your Council below to be directed to their health and wellbeing information:

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