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 (see additional information below).

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.”

Executive Director, Adult Social Care, Wellbeing and Communities, at Gloucestershire County Council, Professor Sarah Scott, said:

“This winter, the NHS and social care services in Gloucestershire are working more closely than ever before with an emphasis on home first, helping people to avoid unnecessary hospital stays, and supporting them to recover in the most appropriate place once they are ready to leave hospital.

We are also asking relatives and carers to do everything they can to work with us to get their loved ones home from hospital as quickly and as safely as possible, with additional support if necessary, from local NHS community services or adult social care teams.”

Director of Public Health at Gloucestershire County Council, Siobhan Farmer said:

“Getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect against COVID-19 and seasonal viruses. If you are eligible for a COVID booster, flu jab, or both, I’d urge you to take up the offer as soon as possible.

We know there is a lot to think about as we head into this winter, including the cost of living. Whether it’s prioritising your mental health, eating well, staying active, keeping warm or looking out for vulnerable family, friends and neighbours, our Stay Well This Winter campaign will provide links to a wealth of information and resources.”

Dr Seymour added:

“If you or a loved one are starting to feel unwell, we’d recommend getting early advice at your community pharmacy, particularly if you have a long-term health condition.

If you are ill or injured and not sure where to turn, the local ASAP Glos NHS App and website and can guide you to the right support and services. The 111 phone service can also provide advice and book you into local NHS services if needed.”

Additional information

The winter plan is available on the NHS Gloucestershire website:

Some examples of the measures being taken by health and care services are:

  • GP surgeries will continue to work together to offer additional appointments during evenings and on Saturdays and supporting people to see the most appropriate healthcare professional
  • Increasing the resilience of first response services, including NHS 111, the out of hours service and 999
  • Recruiting additional staff across health and social care, including nurses, therapists and medical professionals
  • Ensuring services are in place to assess, treat and support older people and people with mental health needs to return home from hospital on the same day, with on-going support if required
  • Ensuring people are seen by the most appropriate member of the team first time, by-passing waiting in A&E if appropriate and going straight to an assessment service
  • Social Workers working in the two large hospitals to help avoid unnecessary hospital stays and to support planning for post hospital care
  • Making sure arrangements are in place for people to leave hospital safely:
  • additional staff working in the ‘hospital to home’ teams
  • increasing access to reablement and domiciliary (home) care staff – providing nursing care for patients and families at home where needed
  • Development of community hubs dedicated to serious respiratory infections, with patients receiving same day access to care out of hospital while also creating additional capacity for hospitals and ambulance services
  • Significant expansion of Virtual Wards to support people in the place they call home e.g. trauma, frailty, and respiratory conditions
  • Improving how closely our joined-up community health and care teams/rapid response services work together
  • Voluntary and community sector partners providing a follow up service to ensure patients are supported to remain at home after leaving hospital
  • Making best use of the two large hospital sites so planned surgery can continue and reducing the backlog built up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership Stay Well This Winter campaign is all about encouraging people to plan ahead and take practical steps to support their health and wellbeing this winter with access to a wealth of information to support them.

Top tips by topic will be available through a range of channels including door to door, local media, social media/video and materials in public places. An online campaign resource area is available at:

The Click or Call First campaign offers clear, simple, and consistent messaging about the main routes into urgent care, how to get step-by-step advice on the right care for you and raises awareness of individual services. Content will be available through the routes mentioned above.