HEALTH and care leaders in Gloucestershire are predicting a challenging winter, but say their services are working more closely than ever before to plan ahead and make best use of all available resources.

They are this week publishing their winter plan, ‘Working with you through winter,’ which outlines the raft of measures being put in place to help services and staff to take the strain over the coming months, including investing in staff, services and beds, ward space and discharge areas.

The public are also being urged to follow practical tips to help them stay well wherever possible and work alongside the local services to support the most vulnerable.

Chief Medical Officer at NHS Gloucestershire, Dr Andy Seymour said: “Due to the pressure already being experienced by health and care teams, rising levels of seasonal illness and the complex needs of many service users, this will be a difficult winter for sure.

“We are doing all we can to plan in advance and ensure we have a strong plan that strengthens our ability to cope, respond as one at times of peak pressure and maintain the very best care for service users.

"We also want to support people in their homes or as close to home as possible.”

Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Faye Noble, said: “Our comprehensive plan is about putting service users at the heart of all we do.

"Despite the inevitable pressures that will face health and care services this winter, our priority is ensuring we have the best possible measures in place to maintain high quality care and work more seamlessly across our health and care family.

“Whilst setting out our proactive plans, we’re also being honest about the scale of the challenge.

"We would like to thank our fantastic teams across Gloucestershire who continue to work tirelessly to support service users every day under significant pressure.

“We are urging people to think carefully about how they access services this winter, particularly when it’s not a medical emergency, and continue to follow our simple campaign messages to get the right support and care in the right place.”

Director of Nursing, Therapies and Quality at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, John Trevains, said: “The colder months always present additional challenges, particularly for our service users who are vulnerable, perhaps through their age or medical conditions.

"Winter is always tough so it’s important we all play our part in keeping people safe and well.

“We are working with our partners as well as our communities to plan and join up community services and support, but everyone can help - so please work with us and look out for family, friends and neighbours at what is a difficult time for many.”