NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are reminding local people to make preparations for the two four-day holiday breaks over Christmas and New Year when GP surgeries will be closed.
The Be Ready for Winter campaign, which was launched in November by television personality Sarah Heaney and Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon, wants people to beat the winter bugs by self-caring; knowing when and how to access Scotland’s NHS services and planning ahead for the two four-day closures.
Dr George Crooks, NHS 24 medical director and spokesman for the Be Ready for Winter campaign, teamed up with Sarah and 10-year-olds Connor McNeil and Kaitlin McCoo to remind people that although surgeries will be closed for four days from December 25-28 and again from January 1-4, out-of-hours services across Greater Glasgow and Clyde are fully prepared for the festive break with out-of-hours GPs and clinical staff working hard to deliver services during the holidays.
As well as knowing the holiday opening times of your local surgery and pharmacy, the Be Ready for Winter campaign advises people to self-care over winter by restocking their medicine cabinet and planning ahead for repeat prescriptions.
The national campaign urges Scots, particularly parents and older people, to be prepared for the cold winter months and advises them on what to do should they or a relative become ill.
The Scotland-wide health drive is being taken forward by NHSScotland in partnership with NHS 24, the Scottish Ambulance Service, all 14 Scottish health boards, Scotland’s pharmacies and out-of-hours services.
Be Ready for Winter encourages people to ask pharmacists for help in treating common winter ailments such as colds, coughs and flu; seek help from a pharmacist; use routine doctor’s appointments where possible and only rely on out-of-hours services when they can’t wait to see their own doctor.
The campaign also urges everyone who relies on repeat prescriptions to hand in any prescription requests by Friday, December 19 if possible.
Dr Norrie Gaw, Clinical Director of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Out-of-Hours Service said: “We want to reassure everyone that we are fully geared up and prepared for the break. Although there will be two lots of four-day public holiday closures this year, our dedicated staff will be working hard to ensure that local out-of-hours services are available and that people can access them when needed.
“It is particularly important that families or older people know when local GP practices and pharmacies are open, particularly if they are visiting family or friends in different places or are likely to need a repeat prescription.
“Pharmacists can now deal with many of the minor ailments that people would normally go to see their doctor about, which means they are helping take the pressure off other services and offering patients a convenient alternative.”
Dr Crooks said: “Every year thousands of people make doctors’ appointments that they might not need or go to their local Accident and Emergency departments with relatively minor ailments, because they are unsure of what else to do.
“The Be Ready For Winter campaign aims to save many of these people a journey by making sure they know about all the services available to them in the community.
“If you are unlucky enough to get a cough, cold or flu, visiting your local pharmacist, buying over the counter medicine, staying at home and keeping warm will make you feel much better. Of course, if your symptoms worsen, you should seek a routine doctor’s appointment or contact out-of-hours services through NHS 24 if it can’t wait until your GP surgery re-opens.”
The four-month long campaign uses a simple four-step guide to publicise what actions people should take if they feel unwell. They are:
• Step One – Self-care and visit a pharmacist
• Step Two – Contact your GP for a routine appointment
• Step Three – For urgent care when your GP practice is closed, use out-of-hours 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 free treatment for minor ailments or illnesses (if they do not normally pay for prescriptions), 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 in plenty of time so you don’t run out! If you need repeat medicines urgently contact your local pharmacist.
4. Know when your GP surgery will be open
Most GP surgeries are shut from 6pm on Friday night until 8am on Monday morning. GP surgeries are also closed on public holidays. Your GP practice will be open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
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 NHSScotland has run the Be Ready for Winter campaign, however 2008/09 is set to be the biggest and most high profile campaign to date. 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.
Issued on behalf of NHSScotland by The BIG Partnership. For more information, contact:
Josie Saunders on 0141 333 9585 / 07881 816283 or email [email protected]
Kim Munro on 0141 333 9585 / 07966 224910 or email [email protected]