The cold kills – plea from local NHS to look out for others

With the cold winter weather now having arrived, local GPs are urging people to check in with elderly and vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours to make sure their heating is working and turned on, and they are aware of the dangers of the cold.

Dr Peter Smye, a GP at The Guildhall and Barrow Surgery in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Although it’s no surprise for there to be cold weather at this time of year, we need to remember that cold weather can cause serious illness such as strokes, heart attacks and pneumonia, and can even kill, especially for those who have a long-term health condition or are aged over 65.

“Please take a few minutes to call round or make a ‘phone call to those you know are vulnerable, just to check they are doing OK.  I would encourage everyone to do their bit this winter in looking out for others in the community.

“My advice is that when indoors, have plenty of warm food and drinks to stay warm and try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly for those who have to sit still for long periods, have long term illness or are 65 or over.”

Dr Farrukh Shamshad, a GP at the Ranworth Surgery in Clacton-on-Sea, said: “As we enter the winter months now is the time to start planning for those times when it may be too inclement to leave the house, such as by having a few days’ supply of food and keeping a supply of the medicine cabinet essentials to best deal with minor illness and injury.

“This is a good time for family members to designate who will regularly check in on relatives who use prescription medicine so they don’t run out of their supply, in case they can’t get outside.

“I would urge too, for everyone eligible to get their flu and COVID vaccinations. Ask those older and vulnerable relatives and neighbours if they have had theirs, and if not, encourage them to take up the offer to best protect their health.

“Finally, but equally important, making contact with someone who is vulnerable needn’t be just about checking they are warm and safe. Having a chat is so important for boosting a person’s mental wellbeing. The winter months can increase people’s sense of loneliness and isolation, and a chat could be just the boost they need.”

The NHS in Suffolk and north east Essex has its own winter wellbeing website with lots of useful and practical information – Keep well this winter – Suffolk and North East Essex Wellbeing Support Services (