NHS leaders in South West London are urging people to get vaccinated for the flu this winter and so help ease the burden on the health service during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

More people than ever are being offered a free flu vaccination this year as the NHS looks to free up hospital space for Covid patients that might otherwise be taken up by those with more serious cases of the flu.

Last week, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for South West London released a statement urging people to seek the NHS care they need despite the ongoing national lockdown against Covid-19:

"While everyone is being told to stay at home, it can be hard to know what to do if you are unwell, but delaying seeking help or getting treatment can have long-term effects, which is why I want to make sure people know that the NHS is still here for you.

"Whether you are worried about a new or unusual symptom, you are pregnant and think something isn’t right, or you are feeling lonely or isolated, there are many ways the NHS can help you, including safe and convenient support online, by phone, video link or asking you to come in for assessment," Dr Andrew Murray, local GP and chair of South West London CCG, said.

He added that the free flu vaccine on offer was a key part of NHS services that remained vital to residents in South West London and across the country.

"As well as seeking help it is vital that everyone continues to go to maternity appointments, cancer screenings and to get their flu jab as they usually would.

"Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff have worked hard to put in place measures to keep patients and staff safe and I want to reassure the people of south west London that the NHS continues to be here for you," Dr Murray said.

Current NHS guidelines during the current lockdown include:

If someone feels unwell help can be accessed in a number of ways:

• For urgent medical help – use the NHS 111 online service or call 111 if you are unable to get help online.

• For help from a GP – use your GP surgery's website, use an online service or app, or call the surgery.

• For life-threatening emergencies – call 999 for an ambulance.

If you are advised to go to hospital, it is important to go.