Keeping south east London well this winter

Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially if you're 65 or older, or if you have a long-term health condition. Read more to keep well this winter.

15 Dec 2022

Who’s most at risk from cold weather?

Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. This includes:

  • people aged 65 and older
  • 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

Get advice if you feel unwell

If you’re 65 or over, or in one of the other at-risk groups, it’s important to get medical help as soon as you feel 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 are not sure what to do

The sooner you get advice, the sooner you’re likely to get better.

In an emergency, go to A&E immediately or call 999.

Get your coronavirus (COVID-19) booster and flu vaccinations

If you’re at greater risk from COVID-19 and flu it’s important to get the extra protection of vaccination in winter.

For most people, flu is unpleasant, but for some it can be dangerous and even life-threatening. COVID-19 is also still making people very ill every day.

Both vaccines are safe and effective, and are the best protection from these viruses. It’s important to get both vaccines if you’re invited.

You need to have the flu vaccine every year because the viruses that cause flu change every year.

Find the latest information about your COVID-19 autumn booster and flu vaccination services in south east London.

If you’re 65 or over, you’re also eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which will help protect you from pneumonia. Ask your GP surgery.

Use the right service

Use the Right Service aims to help people access the correct NHS services. Throughout their website, you can find information about what service is best for you, and how you can make an appointment or visit the most suitable service.

You can view the Use the Right Service artwork in a variety of different languages, here.

View this short video for more information.


The cold weather makes it more difficult for some people to get out and about. Make sure you’re stocked up on much needed medication in case you can’t get to the pharmacy when you need to. With the bank holiday’s coming up, it’s also a good idea to check what medications you will need when pharmacies close, and if you’ll need to order more to see you through the Christmas period.

Industrial action

There will be fewer ambulances on the roads during industrial action, with the NHS prioritising those with life-threatening needs. As a result patients whose conditions are not life-threatening are unlikely to get an ambulance on strike days.

During strike days, it is likely 999 call handlers will be very busy. NHS 111 call centres will have fewer staff, with longer call response times expected across the system. As a result, we are urging anyone with non-urgent care need to first seek help from NHS 111 online.

All hospital inpatients will be informed of how their care will be impacted on a ward-by-ward basis by the staff involved in delivering their care.

If your appointment is rescheduled due to strike action, you will likely be informed by a text, phone call or a letter. Any appointments that need to be rescheduled will be done so as a priority.