Scotland’s largest Health Board is putting in place a range of innovative measures to help ensure that local health services cope with expected increases in demand over the winter period.
Central to dealing with the added stresses on health services during this notoriously busy time is a drive to prevent people becoming ill in the first place, avoid hospital admissions wherever possible and deal effectively with those who do require hospital treatment.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) began planning for winter in the early part of this year and a comprehensive plan, building on good practice developed in previous years, has been put in place to deal with anticipated peaks in demand during the next few months.
DR Linda de Caestecker, NHSGGC’s Director of Public health, said: “As ever our winter planning includes more hospital beds and staff and increased capacity in our acute hospitals during the coming busy months but being prepared for winter is increasingly about preventing admissions. We are taking a system wide approach, including GPs, out-of-hours primary care services and Pharmacies, to try to achieve admission avoidance.
“Central to this is ensuring the public are prepared for the winter season and know what to do if they feel unwell. Many common winter ailments, such as colds and flu, can be treated without going to GPs or local hospitals as pharmacists often provide the best help. By using healthcare services appropriately at this time of year, relieves pressure and allows us to direct key help to where it is needed most.”
In order to achieve this NHSGGC has put in place a wide range of innovative measures designed to help ensure that where possible hospital admissions and GP visits are avoided.
Some of these include:
• Expanded hours of opening of Primary Care Emergency Centres (PCECs) in Glasgow will see all six of the centres remain open till midnight on Christmas Day. Traditionally three of the six closed at 6pm.
• Increased capacity has been created to support Glasgow’s busiest PCEC which is at the Victoria Infirmary. In addition to the expansion of the Victoria Infirmary PCEC, the PCEC for the south west of the city has been relocated to the Southern General Hospital and will work alongside the A&E Department there offering a more joined up service for patients. Increased capacity will also be created to cope with the increase in demand at other Primary Care Emergency Centres across Glasgow and Clyde.
• A new mental health crisis service to provide 24-hour seven-day-a- week services which will assess patients for admission and discharge. These services will be in place over the festive period and will receive referrals from primary care, liaison Psychiatry and acute services.
• Community teams will provide a rapid response for vulnerable older people at risk of hospital admission over the holiday period.
• Pharmacy Direct Referrals to Primary Care Emergency Centres. This initiative allows pharmacists to discuss more serious situations that may present in the pharmacy with the duty doctor at the Primary Care Emergency Centre. They can then jointly determine the most appropriate referral point for that patient, thus minimising the risk of any further delay in accessing care and help manage the demand for NHS24 services.
• A series of measures will also be established to increase capacity within acute hospitals. These include extended hours working from 26th December 2008 to 28th February 2009 and increased provision for diagnostic testing at our main hospital sites.
• The use of discharge lounges will be maximised, where patients ready to go home can wait for prescription medicines or transport and thus free up a bed for another patient.
To ensure that Greater Glasgow and Clyde residents stay healthy and know how to use their health services over the festive period NHSGGC has been running its own local ‘Stay well, plan ahead’ information campaign linked to the major national ‘Be ready for winter’ campaign.
The Heath Board has taken out a series of press adverts and produced an essential winter guide. The 16-page guide is being distributed widely throughout GP surgeries, health centres, clinics, pharmacies and opticians. It includes vital information such as the opening hours of pharmacies throughout the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area and advice on how to access out of hours services.
For those who don’t manage to pick up a copy of the winter guide, an electronic version is available on a dedicated ‘winter zone’ on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s website. The winter zone is also full of helpful tips about keeping warm and well throughout winter.
Notes for Editors
Copies of the booklet that details health and social care services available over the Christmas and New Year period can be found on the NHS Greater Glasgow web-site’s Winter Zone - www.nhsggc.org.uk/winter.
For more information contact the Press Office on 0141 201 4429.