Wanted in South Cheshire – a winter army of good samaritans

NHS South Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is encouraging local people to support a national NHS call to get people to commit to looking in on an elderly friend or neighbour this winter.

The national campaign, led by NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk) aims to help by appealing to an old-fashioned sense of being more neighbourly. Specifically, it is asking for 100,000 people to sign an electronic pledge that states: “I will take time out this winter to look in on an elderly friend or neighbour to make sure they are warm and coping well.”

Last year the cold winter saw 31,100 excess deaths - a rise of 29% on the previous year. According to statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the majority of the deaths in England and Wales were among the elderly, with over 75s accounting for 25,600 of the deaths.

The ONS report claims that the cold winter coupled with the peak in flu illnesses over the festive period helped to drive the excess deaths.

Those who sign the Winter Friends pledge will receive free cold weather alerts and email tips throughout the winter to help them do their bit.

NHS South Cheshire CCG is urging people to join the likes of actress Joanna Lumley, Olympic gold medalist Sally Gunnell, rapper Plan B and Stephen Fry in signing up to the pledge, in an effort to look after the elderly and vulnerable this winter.

Dr Andrew Wilson is GP Chair of NHS South Cheshire CCG. He said: “Every year elderly people in South Cheshire end up in hospital as a result of the cold weather. Some of these unfortunately die. If we all took a pledge to check in on our elderly neighbours or family members over winter to make sure they had everything they need, that the house is warm enough and they are comfortable, then some deaths could actually be prevented.”

NHS South Cheshire CCG is working with its partner organisations to ensure that local health plans are put into effect around winter and that services run smoothly to cope with any additional demand. The CCG is encouraging local people to take responsibility for themselves and others so that we all help each other stay healthy and safe over the winter period.

Please sign the pledge and join the NHS Winter Friends campaign by visiting www.nhs.uk/WinterFriends. Signing the pledge takes only a moment but could enrich lives and prevent deaths.

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