Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres welcomed the launch by the NSW Government for a state-wide “Get Ready For Winter” plan, to raise awareness to prepare for the influenza season.
“Following the northern hemisphere’s intense 2012/2013 winter season, NSW Health is preparing for a potentially serious flu season. We are getting ready for the influenza season and I urge all members of the community to get ready, too,” Mr Ayres said.
“This year we are particularly concerned about the likelihood of three strains of influenza – the H1N1, H3N2 and B strains – all circulating at the same time. We have learnt from our very intensive work in addressing the spread of H1N1 that you can never start preparing too early” Mr Ayres said.
“Our hospitals are equipped and preparing to manage the increased case load but we are urging people to be aware of how they can stay well during the influenza season and stay out of hospital.”
Mr Ayres met with Dr Anthony Fong of Tindale Family Medical Practice to discuss the best methods of dealing with the influenza season:
- Get a plan – if you have a chronic disease such as asthma, plan ahead (eg. preventative asthma medication can take six weeks to become effective).
- Get a jab – flu vaccine is free for people over 65 years of age; pregnant women; Aboriginal people aged 15 years or over; people with underlying medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.
- Get a GP – if unwell, see your GP or call healthdirect (1800 022 222) to talk to a registered nurse.
- Get well – wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing and stay at home if unwell.
“People with a cold or flu-like symptoms should see their GP or contact healthdirect (1800 022 222) to talk to a registered nurse, this will help avoid placing additional pressure on our hard-working emergency department teams.”
The 5.2 per cent increase in the health budget this financial year – to $17.3 billion – provides, for an anticipated 50,000 extra emergency patients and 30,000 extra overnight hospitals patients. A record number of nurses – 4000 extra since the March 2011 election – and doctors will be available to provide patients with high quality care.
Other NSW Health initiatives which will help manage the winter case load include:
- Hospital In The Home – these services target medical patients who can safely receive their care at home, thereby freeing up hospital beds for sicker patients.
- Community packages – the ComPacks program facilitates safe and early discharge of eligible patients from hospital by providing access to a short-term package of care, such as showering, shopping and household cleaning.
“Working together we can ensure better health outcomes for everyone this winter, said Mr Ayres and Dr Fong.”
The Get Ready For Winter plan can be viewed at www.health.nsw.gov.au/getreadyforwinter.