HEALTH chiefs in Swindon will pour hundreds of thousands of pounds into fighting poor health this winter.

Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) plans to invest almost £849,000 into schemes aimed at reducing pressures on healthcare services over the busier winter months.

They include an effort to improve health in care homes, with over £357,000 to be spent on specialist staff and closer monitoring of patients in care homes – with the aim of keeping them out of hospital.

Five additional places will be made available on “reablement” programmes, aimed at helping those who have left hospital with daily tasks.

As part of the winter plans, the CCG and Swindon Borough Council will set aside a £200,000 “winter contingency” war chest.

Nicki Millin, accountable officer at Swindon CCG said: “We are fully aware of the pressures that winter brings on our health and social care system and as such, we are investing in schemes and ensuring robust systems are in place to deal with the additional pressures.

“The prolonged cold period of Winter increases pressure on system for all ages with common illnesses, increased falls and can be a vulnerable time for frail people and we would actively encourage Swindon residents to stay well this winter, look after each other and when needed choose the right healthcare service for their needs.”

Ms Millin said that those who felt sick this winter should consider alternatives to visiting A&E.

“GPs should always be the first port of call for most medical problems,” she said. “Pharmacists are experts in many areas of healthcare and can also offer advice on a wide range of conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets.”

The NHS non-emergency phone line 111 is available 24/7 for medical help and advice on non-emergency health complaints, Ms Millin added.

A spokeswoman for Swindon Borough Council said: “We have set aside some funding to contribute to the winter contingency and this could be used to pay for additional care home placements or increased domiciliary care. We’re also supporting the CCG to prevent hospital admissions through a range of public health initiatives such as the uptake of the seasonal flu vaccine, falls prevention and safe and warm homes.”