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People who are at risk during winter

Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications.

Vulnerable groups

People who are vulnerable to the effects of cold weather include:

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Babies and children under the age of 5
  • People on a low income (so cannot afford heating)
  • People who have a long-term health condition
  • People with a disability
  • Pregnant women
  • People who have a mental health condition

It is important to be prepared for winter and to seek help should you need it, this includes having the flu vaccine if appropriate for you.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and you are advised to take extra precautions please go our coronavirus pages for more information.

If you are feeling unwell

If you are feeling unwell, you can get help and advice from:

  • A pharmacy – pharmacists can give treatment advice for a range of minor illnesses and can tell you if you need to see a doctor
  • Your GP – you may be able to speak to a GP online or over the phone, or go in for an appointment if they think you need to
  • NHS 111 – go to or call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do

NHS 111

Think you need to go to A&E? Think NHS 111 First.

If you need urgent, but not life-threatening care, call NHS 111 before turning up to an emergency department. If, following a conversation with NHS 111, it is appropriate for you to attend the emergency department you may be scheduled a time to attend.

Thinking NHS 111 First will also help you get to the most appropriate service when you may not have to attend the emergency department. This could include self-care or a slot at your GP practice, a GP hub or a nearby Urgent Treatment Centre.

You can still go to the Emergency Department or Urgent Treatment Centre without calling ahead but thinking NHS 111 first will mean: ​

  • Shorter waiting times ​via a booked slot at the emergency department or another appropriate service
  • Safe social distancing away from busy emergency department waiting rooms to protect you and others from COVID-19​

You may wish to visit the NHS website for further information and advice.

Updated: 24 November 2020

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