Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

NHS Winter health briefing

Member winter health briefing: 8 December 2022

As ever winter finds the NHS working at full stretch to keep the public healthy and, if needed, moving through health and care services safely and efficiently.  

A number of key situations and offers have arisen in the past few weeks which we’d like to make you aware of and let you know what current advice and messaging is:

Strep A i(GAS) and scarlet fever in children 

In colder weather lots of people get sore throats, colds and coughs, and most of these should get better without medical help. 

However, there are also some bacterial infections circulating which benefit from treatment with antibiotics. One of these infections is called scarlet fever and there is a higher than normal rate of this going around now. 

Scarlet fever is caused by a bacteria called Group A Strep which can cause breathing problems and skin infections. 

It’s usually a mild illness, but it can be easily passed between people, so making sure everyone washes their hands carefully and regularly is important to stop the spread.

Signs to look out for include:

  • a sore throat
  • headache
  • fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a ‘sandpapery’ feel

Contact NHS 111 or a GP if you think your child has scarlet fever, because early treatment with antibiotics will reduce the risk of health complications. 

If a child has scarlet fever, keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatments to avoid spreading the infection to others. If the child seems seriously unwell, parents should trust their own judgement.

Advice for parents:

Contact NHS 111 or a GP if:

  • your child is getting worse
  • your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration 
  • your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39°C or higher
  • your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • your child is very tired or irritable.

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • your child has difficulty breathing: you may notice grunting noises, or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • there are pauses when your child breathes
  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue ( and search’ blue skin or lips’)
  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.

More information on scarlet fever and Group A strep is available on the government website: UKHSA update on scarlet fever and invasive Group A strep 

We will share any further updates from UKHSA throughout or you can find out more 

You can download an ICB leaflet, poster and digi slide advising parents about what to do and how to best help their child should they become unwell: 

Winter vaccine toolkit

The local NHS has launched an online toolkit to promote flu and booster COVID-19 vaccinations among local communities.  The toolkit includes print ready posters and leaflets, translated material, social media images and key messages. 

These resources are freely available for use by community and resident groups, charities, patient representatives, outreach and health workers to encourage eligible people to have the free jabs to help protect them this winter. 

Resources include links to information booklets about the COVID-19 vaccine in Urdu, Polish, Farsi and Romanian, and messaging about the vaccines aimed at pregnant women, parents of two and three year olds who can have the nasal spray flu vaccine, those with health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart conditions and people aged 50 and over. 

The toolkit also provides publicity posters so local community groups can promote the ‘Health on the Move’ van, which brings the COVID-19 vaccine to communities across the patch. It also has a link to locations and dates of local walk-in COVID-19 clinics, which are not pre-booked. 

COVID Mass Vaccination Site opening in Aylesbury imminently

Buckinghamshire New University, Aylesbury Campus will become the Mass Vaccination Site for Bucks. It is expected to open in the next few days.

Initially opening one day for adults and one day to vaccinate children and young people, it is a welcome addition to the COVID vaccination offer in the county.

Also offering COVID Autumn Boosters are the outreach pop-up clinics that are walk-in so people don’t need to book an appointment. These are cropping up for a single session or several days in lower uptake areas where we really want to bring the offer back into communities. 

You can support the effort to encourage anyone who hasn’t had their autumn booster by sharing links to the ICB webpage: Autumn COVID-19 booster and flu vaccines | BOB ICB and reposting our social ads on Twitter and Facebook.

Flu vaccination 

We are continuing to vaccinate people against flu this winter but have reached somewhat of a slowdown with specific groups, despite a concerted effort to engage and encourage take up of the offer.

Groups that Buckinghamshire are particularly struggling to get vaccinated include:

  • 2 and 3 year olds – It is important that we encourage this group as they can be particularly affected by scarlet fever and Strep A (iGAS) if they are unvaccinated against the flu.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding mums
  • Those aged 50+ and under 74
  • Those with underlying health conditions 
  • Those of Pakistani, Black African, and Black Caribbean heritage

Please continue to encourage your constituents to take up the flu vaccine offer. We share many social media posts via ICB social channels mentioned earlier or you can signpost to the new winter vaccine toolkit which also has lots of options.

Please note that community pharmacies are still booking flu jab appointments although this will be slowing down soon: Book or manage a free NHS flu vaccination at a pharmacy – NHS (

Thank you for your continued support.


Back to top