Posted by Daniel Harper at 08/11/2018 11:26:43
I am very pleased that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has identified the prevention of ill-health as one of his main priorities. As he says in his recent blog, if we get prevention right, it holds the key to longer, healthier, happier lives and a sustainable, high quality health and care system guaranteed for many generations to come.
This is something I very much agree with, speaking both as a local GP and as chair of NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group.
And that is why I would like to highlight to you Self Care Week from 12 to 18 November, which is organised by the Self Care Forum, a group of professionals from key organisations, to remind people that there are lots of small things we can all do to enhance and protect our health. Here are their top tips:
- Get active; exercise for at least twenty minutes a day. It’s ideal if you can incorporate this into your day by ditching the car and walking to work, or walking the dog, taking the stairs or even dancing around the kitchen table to your favourite songs.
- Eat well. We all know that healthy eating is crucial to our health, so let’s start by eating more fruit and vegetables and cutting down on unhealthy snacks.
- Make positive changes. Take steps to stop those bad habits that don’t serve you well. This Self Care Week, make a plan to stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake and get active! Visit One You Kent for lots of help.
- A good night’s sleep is as essential to our health and wellbeing as eating healthily and exercising so, give yourself the best possible chance to get the recommended seven or eight hours' sleep a night.
- Stop. These days we lead such busy lives that we sometimes forget to slow down and stop. Find time in your day to just quieten your mind. Mindfulness or yoga might be helpful.
Taking these steps will typically help people feel better, as well as be healthier. Much of what is good for our bodies is good for our minds as well.
Of course, looking after ourselves won’t ward off every bug, but self-care still applies. Many common illnesses can be treated at home, perhaps with advice from a pharmacist, or over the counter remedies. Did you know that a packet of paracetamol tablets or aspirin can cost as little as 24p? Or that using conditioner and a nit-comb is just as effective on head lice as expensive sprays, lotions and solutions?
If in doubt about what to buy, you can also ask to speak to the pharmacist. They are highly trained professionals, who are experts in medicine.
Many pharmacies in west Kent are part of the Pharmacy First Common Ailments Scheme, which offers quick, free, expert advice and free medications for certain illnesses such as acne, athletes’ foot, chickenpox, colic and conjunctivitis to people who don’t usually pay for their prescriptions.
Finally, this week also marks World Antibiotics Awareness Week, when we in the NHS highlight why it is so important that antibiotics are used only when absolutely necessary. Overuse reduces their effectiveness and without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations, even chemotherapy and animal health all rely on access to antibiotics that work.
To slow resistance we need to cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics. That’s why GPs will only prescribe antibiotics when they are absolutely sure they are relevant and necessary.
The other side to this is, if you are prescribed antibiotics, please make sure that you follow the instructions on the packet and complete the course.
Have a happy and healthy winter.