People in Greater Glasgow and Clyde were urged to Be Ready for Winter by popular TV presenter Sarah Heaney and Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon when they launched a major NHS Scotland campaign today (November 3) to help Scots fend off the winter bugs.
The pair joined forces to unveil the Be Ready for Winter campaign, which highlights how and when people can access NHS services during winter and what they can do to keep well during the cold months ahead.
The national campaign encourages Scots, particularly parents and older people, to be prepared for the winter period and advises how they can look after themselves if they catch a cough or cold.
By stocking up the medicine cabinet now, ordering repeat prescriptions before to cover weekends and holidays, and finding out the opening times of the local GP practice throughout the festive period, people can ensure they are not caught out.
This year, GP practices and a number of pharmacies will be closed for four days over the Christmas period (December 24 to 27) and four days over New Year (December 31 to January 3).
The four-month health drive, launched today, encourages people to ask pharmacists for help in treating common winter ailments such as colds, coughs and flu, to use routine doctor appointments where possible and only rely on out of hours services when they can’t wait to see their own doctor.
Supporting the campaign, Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The last couple of weeks have seen Scotland’s first taste of winter, so it’s a timely opportunity to remind everyone to prepare themselves for the colder weather so that they don’t fall ill.
“I would particularly encourage everyone eligible – those over 65 and people with chronic illnesses such as breathing and heart problems – to arrange to get their free flu jab from their GP. This is the most effective way of protecting yourself from the flu, which can hit these groups especially hard.
“People should also make sure they’re stocked up on medicines to combat coughs and colds, particularly older people who may have mobility issues. It’s worth remembering that a pharmacist can advise you on which medicines you may need, meaning you don’t have to wait to see a doctor. But of course, if you think your condition is serious, don’t hesitate to visit your GP. “
The Scotland-wide campaign is being spearheaded by NHS Scotland in partnership with NHS 24, the Scottish Ambulance Service, all 14 Scottish health boards, Scotland’s pharmacy counters and out-of-hours services.
Dr Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We're pleased to be lending our support to the Be Ready for Winter campaign again this year. Self-caring during winter can help people to fend off common winter illnesses, and enables local health services to provide help where it is most needed.
"We are encouraging people to ask pharmacists for help in treating coughs, colds and flu, using routine doctor's appointments where possible, and only relying on out of hours services when they can't wait to see their own doctor. By doing so, we hope to free up Scotland's health service to deal with the more serious cases."
Mum-of-two Sarah said: “I am delighted to be able to support NHSScotland’s Be Ready for Winter campaign because as a mum I know how important self-caring is, particularly during winter.
“Knowing when to stay at home and making sure you have over-the-counter medication for coughs, colds and flu will make you feel better. It is also important to know when and how to access help and Be Ready for Winter highlights when to use pharmacists, GPs and the out-of-hours services.”
Be Ready for Winter promotes self-care as the first step when dealing with minor winter ailments. However, the campaign uses a simple four-step guide to advise what actions people should take if they still feel unwell. They are:
• Step One – Self-care and visit a pharmacist
• Step Two – Contact your GP for a routine appointment
• Step Three –If your GP surgery is closed and you are too ill to wait until it re-opens, use out-of -hour services. These are accessed through NHS 24 on 08454 242424
• Step Four – For serious emergencies go to A&E or call 999.
NHSScotland and its partners have produced five top tips to help people get ready this winter. They are:
1. Restock your winter medicine cabinet
Many winter illnesses can be treated at home with basic medicine, so make sure you restock your medicine cabinet.
2. Use your local pharmacy
Your local pharmacy is an accessible health resource for you and your family. Everyone can get advice from their local pharmacist and buy medicine for a minor ailment or illness, from acne to allergies, coughs to cold sores, hangovers to headaches.
3. Make sure you have your repeat prescription
If you take medicines regularly on prescription, make sure you order and collect your repeat prescription so you don’t run out!
4. Know when your GP surgery will be open
Your GP practice will be closed for four days during the Christmas period and also for four days over New Year.
5. Be prepared
One of the best things you can do this winter is to try to keep fit and well.
This is the fourth year that NHS Scotland has run a winter campaign aimed at encouraging people to self care for minor winter ailments.
This year’s campaign is being supported by tv, radio, print and outdoor media across Scotland throughout November, December and January. In addition, some 270,000 leaflets will be distributed across the country during the next four months.
For further information on keeping well this winter and pharmarcy opening times, visit www.nhs24.com or call the NHS Helpline on 0800 22 44 88.
For further information contact:
Josie Saunders, The BIG Partnership, on 0141 333 9585 / 07881 816283 or email [email protected]
Kim Munro, The BIG Partnership, on 0141 333 9585 / 07966 224910 or email [email protected]