Dr Owl Takes Flight Across Scotland Offering “wise” Winter Health Tips

PEOPLE in Forth Valley are being encouraged to Be Health-Wise This Winter at today’s (November 26th) launch of a national health campaign.

The Minister for Public Health Maureen Watt was joined by schoolchildren and NHS 24’s Executive Nurse Director Sheena Wright at the National Records of Scotland General Register House in Edinburgh to help encourage people stay healthy throughout the festive period, when many common winter ailments are circulating.

The Primary one schoolchildren –Brodie Dawson (5) and Douglas Stewart (5) from Stirlingshire – were also introduced to the memorable and wise Dr Owl who will feature in the NHSScotland campaign.

The campaign is running throughout November and December and advises people to be health-wise by checking they have cold and flu remedies, making sure they have enough repeat prescriptions and knowing the opening times of their local pharmacy and GP.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “We are surrounded by some of Scotland’s important archival history here at General Register House and what better backdrop to emphasise the importance of taking some time to think about your health at what is a busy time of year for us all. The aim of this campaign is to remind people of the services available to them over the festive period and to urge them to take responsibility for their own health and be wise when it comes to winter health matters.

“Last winter saw increased pressures including an early start to the norovirus season, an increase in respiratory illnesses, and increased pressure on A&E departments, and it is really important that you know who to turn to when you are ill. Unless life threatening NHS 24, the local pharmacy, the GP surgery or minor injuries unit  may be the better place to go rather than a busy A & E unit”

“By finding out what services are open and stocking up on winter remedies, we can prevent winter illnesses from spoiling the holiday period. It will also ensure that emergency lifesaving services are kept free for those who really need them.”

This year, GP surgeries throughout most of the country will be closed for four days at Christmas (25-28 December), before re-opening on Monday 29th December and again for four days at New Year (1-4 January), before re-opening again on Monday 5th January.

NHS 24’s Executive Nurse Director Sheena Wright said it is important to prepare ahead for this time: “Listen to Dr Owl’s wise words and make sure health doesn’t drop off your to-do list. Take the time now to check you have cold and flu remedies in your medicine cabinet and use your local pharmacy for advice on what to have in your medicine cabinet. If you need to visit your GP, try to schedule an appointment before the festive period and submit your repeat prescription request in plenty of time and only order what you need. By taking the time now, you can help ensure you and your family enjoy a healthy festive period.”

Ms Tracey Gillies, Medical Director, NHS Forth Valley, said: “Winter is a very busy time for the NHS however you can help avoid placing extra demands on hospital and emergency services by making use of your local pharmacy and GP services which can provide treatment and advice for a wide range of common health problems. The Minor Injuries Unit at Stirling Community Hospital will also be open every day from 9am to 9pm throughout the winter period, including the festive Christmas and New Year holidays.”

The national Be Health-Wise this Winter campaign is supported by NHSScotland in partnership with NHS 24, the Scottish Ambulance Service, all 14 Scottish Health Boards and the British Medical Association in Scotland.

Dr Alan McDevitt, Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee said “Winter is the time of year when a lot of people will develop a cold or flu and the best way to manage these ailments is to ensure that you stock up on the remedies that are available in pharmacies and supermarkets.  For those who are eligible, it’s important to get the annual flu vaccination from your GP surgery.

“While it’s important to be prepared, patients should be reassured that over the holiday season GPs will still be working, even when the surgery is closed, and they will be able to see a GP if they need to by calling NHS 24.  Anyone experiencing health problems when their surgery is closed should contact NHS 24 for advice by dialling 111.”

General advice and information on how to stay healthy this winter can be found at www.nhsinform.co.uk/winter or contact NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88.