Winter is always an incredibly busy time for our local NHS services and as we enter the cold and flu season we are already seeing increased demands across our GP surgeries, hospitals and community health services.

To ease these pressures and ensure that those in most urgent need are able to access services quickly, this winter we are running a campaign to make sure people know where to go for help when they are unwell and to access the right NHS service for them.

Eamonn Sullivan, Chief Nursing Officer at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s well known that winter is a busy time for the NHS and this year will be no different. We are always here to provide care, but if you become unwell and it's not urgent, you can contact NHS 111 online who will give you advice and direct you to the best place for the care you need. By using the right NHS service such as minor injury units or your local pharmacist, it will help us to keep our Emergency Department for medical emergencies only, so we can help those most in need."

The winter campaign will signpost the public to their most appropriate local NHS services, as well as giving advice to help people stay well this winter. Encouraging everyone to be up-to-date with their flu and Covid booster vaccinations, Dr Debbie Milligan, GP in Berkshire West, also suggests having a fully stocked medicine cabinet to treat minor illnesses at home:

“There will be significant pressures this winter on all NHS services including GP services but there are a few ways you can help. With winter coughs and colds are already in our communities, being prepared and having simple cough and flu medicines at home can help to reduce symptoms. You can talk to your local pharmacist, they can help with advice and treatment on minor illnesses. If you are worried and unsure which NHS service you need you can also visit 111 online as they will be able to book you an appointment with the right healthcare service if needed. And finally if you are offered a flu vaccine or covid booster, have it. It is your best protection for both you and those around you from serious illness associated with these viruses.”

If you are eligible for the free flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster you will be contacted by your GP. There are also other sites to get vaccinated locally and the NHS website will help you find out what you are eligible for and where to book locally: visit and search ‘COVID vaccine’ or ‘flu vaccine’. For COVID vaccination bookings you can also call free on 119.