As the winter months are fast approaching and the temperatures rapidly dropping every day, it’s important to ensure you’re maintaining healthy behaviours and habits during this year’s winter pressures.

During this time of year, the NHS  faces much higher demands and intense pressure due to the high rise of cold and flu viruses, where around 35,000 people die each year during the winter months in England and Wales alone.

Last winter, the NHS saw a huge struggle with a 94.5% bed occupation rate in hospitals alongside a 31.3% rate of ambulance handovers that were delayed by 60 minutes or more. To help combat this, the NHS in England has released their winter plans and predictions for 2023/2024. The plan covers a range of measures such as; interventions from the UEC recovery plan, clarifying roles and responsibilities so there are plans to stay resilient throughout winter, and surge planning to ensure systems and staff are prepared and not overwhelmed during peak times. This will in turn help to improve patient flow.

The use of virtual wards will play a vital role in clearing hospital beds on wards, as those who don’t have a clinical need to be in a hospital bed, can be sent home and remain monitored. Due to this, it will therefore leave space and help stop the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed during the winter season, leaving room for patients in desperate need of medical attention.

However, there are prevention measures you, as a healthcare professional, can also take to help protect yourself and others from catching a cold, the flu or other contagious diseases and keeping healthy this winter.

Using hand sanitiser regularly

It is recommended to use hand sanitiser with at least 60% ethanol to ensure germs are being effectively killed. If soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitiser is the next best prevention method you can use to kill bacteria. Whether you’ve sneezed or coughed into your hands/or a tissue, it’s important to remember to use hand sanitiser before touching another surface.

Wear a mask if you’re unwell around co-workers and patients

In 2020, we saw the drastic rise of the Coronavirus pandemic, and due to this, masks were introduced as a part of a comprehensive strategy to stop the spread of germs. Even now, the use of masks are still vitally important to the care and protection of venerable patients. To find out more information on when it is appropriate to wear a mask, take the World Health Organisation’s course that is intended for healthcare professionals.

Wash your hands

The best method to prevent spreading germs and bacteria is by washing your hands with soap under warm water for at least 20 seconds. It’s suggested to wash your hands fairly often – especially when you’re preparing food.  A fun recommendation was issued to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice whilst washing your hands to effectively remove and kill any unwanted germs.

Make sure your vaccinations are up to date

By making sure your vaccinations and jabs are all up to date, you are giving yourself the best possible protection from harmful illnesses. Especially being a healthcare worker, you can sometimes surround yourself with unwell patients, so it’s vital to keep your immune system at it’s strongest to help fight off illnesses and protect others.

Stay hydrated and have a healthy diet

As a healthcare professional, you can sometimes work long shifts and forget to take care of yourself alongside your patients. Keeping hydrated is one of the most important things we can do to keep our bodies fit and healthy. Drinking around 2-3 litres of water a day and maintaining a healthy diet can lead to better productivity, as you will feel more energised to continue throughout your day.

By following this advice and keeping up to date with how the NHS is coping with the winter pressures, you should be well prepared and feel confident going to work that you are keeping yourself, your patients and colleagues as safe as you possibly can.

If you’re looking for your next job this winter as a healthcare professional, register your CV with Athona today and our passionate teams will get to work finding you the most suitable role that meets all your working requirements.


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