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Greenwich GPs are encouraging local people to plan ahead for Ramadan ­to stay healthy and fast safely.

This year, Ramadan is due to start on the evening of Tuesday 15 May, and as it is the summer, the longer, warmer days can bring an increased risk of dehydration.

This can particularly affect people with existing medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease (CKD), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Dr Ellen Wright, a local GP and chair of NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Ramadan is an important time for all Muslims and many will choose to observe the fast during the daylight hours.

“However, it is also important to stay healthy and fast safely. Anyone with a long-term condition or taking regular medication, who is thinking about fasting this Ramadan, should discuss their options with their GP, specialist nurse or healthcare professional.

“If you are taking prescribed medicines, you should continue taking them during Ramadan.

“Also, make sure to check on others in your community who may be at greater risk and keep an eye on children and young people to ensure they are having a safe and healthy Ramadan.”

To stay healthy during the 30 days of Ramadan, it is important to:

  • avoid long periods of time in the sun

  • drink plenty of water during non-fasting hours

  • cut back on all types of caffeinated drinks

  • Eat a balanced diet during non-fasting hours to keep your body functioning properly during the day. Foods that release energy slowly, including carbohydrates and protein, will help you maintain your energy levels. For healthy meal ideas, visit www.nhs.uk/LiveWell

People with diabetes, particularly those with significant kidney, eye or heart problems, are advised by GPs to avoid fasting.

Dr Ellen Wright added: “If you think you have a health problem during Ramadan, please don’t hesitate to seek medical help. It is also really important that you attend all your regular or pre-arranged medical appointments.

“If you feel you are unable to attend your appointment, you should call your GP or hospital to reschedule the appointment as soon as possible after Ramadan ends (on the evening of 14 June).”

If you are unable to see your GP and need to see a doctor urgently during Ramadan, you can book GP appointments at one of two evening and weekend GP access hubs in Greenwich. These can be booked through your normal GP practice or by calling NHS 111.

The NHS 111 number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and advice can be given on the most appropriate health care.

For further information about where you can access health services in your area, visit www.nhs.uk

Please remember: fasting is not considered compulsory for many groups – including people with diabetes on insulin therapy; people who are unwell or have a long-term condition; people with learning difficulties; people who are travelling; and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating.  For further information about health during Ramadan, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyramadan