Stay well this winter

Winter is a time when many people become unwell with coughs, colds and viruses such as flu or COVID-19. This can be more serious for people aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and people whose immune systems may be weaker due to their cancer or their cancer treatment.

Cold weather also poses risks to people's health. For example:

  • Being cold increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke and increased blood pressure
  • Rain, snow, ice and high winds can increase the risk of accidents including slips and trips and road accidents

The NHS is here to help when you need it - and there are lots of things you can do to help yourself stay well this winter.

Advice on staying well

Winter vaccinations

If you have cancer, you may be eligible for vaccinations against winter viruses including flu, COVID-19 and pneumoccal viruses (e.g. pneumonia and meningitis). Your GP practice will know if you are eligible or you can ask your consultant. You will usually receive an invitation if you are eligible. If you haven't been invited and think you may be eligible, don't hesitate to ask. You can find out more about booking winter vaccinations on the website. (Scroll down on that page to Vaccines for Adults.)

COVID-19 treatments

People at the highest risk of becoming very unwell with COVID-19 are eligible for certain treatments if they test positive using a lateral flow test. This includes people on many cancer treatments. If you are eligible and test positive for COVID-19 on a lateral flow test:

  • Contact your GP, hospital specialist or NHS 111 to let them know
  • They can then refer you if they think you need treatment

Find out more on the website.

Advice on keeping warm and keeping safe at home

There is some really useful advice in this handy leaflet on staying well this winter. It includes guidance on keeping your house warm and safe (e.g. gas safety and reducing the risk of slips, trips and falls at home).

Financial hardship and benefits

Find out what help is available and find tips on reducing your bills in the Help for Households section of the website. Our Cancer Information and Support Centres can signpost you to advice and support in your area - we have centres in our three main hospitals (Aintree, Liverpool and Wirral). There is also lots of advice on the Age UK website aimed at people aged 60 and over.

Urgent advice and care from your cancer team (incl our Hotline)

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre Hotline

Our Hotline team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you are a patient currently being treated by The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre - or who completed treatment in the last six weeks (or immunotherapy in the last 12 months) - and you need urgent advice or care related to your cancer treatment or diagnosis.

Our Hotline is staffed by specialist cancer nurses who can provide expert advice. They are specially trained to help with complications of cancer and any side-effects from your treatment. They can also access any information they need from your cancer health records so they can provide the right advice.

You can call them for free any time on:

0800 169 5555

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call our Hotline using the Relay UK service.

If our Hotline team think you need further assessment, they will refer you to the right place. This could be:

  • Our Clinical Decisions Unit - more information below
  • NHS 111
  • Your GP
  • Community services in your local area - for example, an urgent community response (UCR) service or walk-in centre
  • Your local Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) unit
  • A hospital emergency department (sometimes known as ED or A&E)

Clinical Decisions Unit

Our Clinical Decisions Unit (CDU) specialises in urgent and emergency cancer care. The unit is open during the day from Monday to Friday and is based on Level 2 of Clatterbridge Cancer Centre - Liverpool (CCC-Liverpool).

Patients must be referred to the CDU by our Hotline team, their cancer care team, another team within The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre or their GP. (Please don't come directly to CDU.) It provides urgent assessment and initial treatment for people with cancer who have become unwell or developed complications that need urgent clinical assessment. These include:

  • Serious side-effects from treatment
  • Serious deterioration in their health related to their cancer diagnosis
  • Suspected or confirmed neutropenic sepsis
  • Suspected or confirmed metastatic spinal cord compression
  • Other complications from cancer or cancer treatment

Once patients have been assessed and had any immediate care needed, the CDU team will monitor their condition and arrange next steps. For example:

  • Discharging people home if well enough
  • Admitting them to one of our inpatient wards
  • Discharging them to community-based care or intermediate (step-down) care
  • Transferring them to another hospital if they need care for conditions other than cancer

How we work with other hospitals and heathcare providers

Working with other hospitals and healthcare providers

We work closely with other hospitals and healthcare providers across Cheshire and Merseyside so people with cancer get the right care in the right place. This includes:

  • People who need inpatient cancer care may be transferred from their local hospital to our inpatient wards at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre - Liverpool (CCC-Liverpool), where clinically appropriate. This means people can receive specialist cancer care in a hospital specially designed for people with cancer instead of in an emergency department or acute general ward.
  • Acute oncology - Clatterbridge consultants lead acute oncology services in all local hospitals that have an Emergency Department / A&E. They provide specialist cancer advice and support to staff in other hospitals, supporting inpatients and reducing the likelihood of people with cancer being admitted to hospital unnecessarily. Patients can ask to be seen by the local acute oncology service (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm). Staff in emergency departments and general wards across Cheshire and Merseyside have rapid access to expert oncology advice from our teams.
  • We work closely with our colleagues next door in the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. People on our wards who need urgent assessment or care by experts in other areas of medicine (e.g. heart disease, kidney disease, intensive care) can be seen by their specialists.

Cheshire and Merseyside - Stay well this winter

The NHS Cheshire and Merseyside website has loads of advice and guidance on staying well this winter and how to access local health and care services if you need help.