Winter is a very busy time for the NHS however you can help avoid placing extra demands on hospital and emergency services by making the best use of your local pharmacy, GP practice or the minor injuries service. Your pharmacist can provide advice and medicines for many common conditions such as coughs and colds, fever, sore throats and stomach upsets without having to see your GP. Remember to restock your medicine cabinet and, if you are a parent, make sure you have remedies suitable for children.
Use our Know Who to Turn To section to find out who you should be seeking advice from when you are ill.
In an emergency you should always dial 999
Minor Injuries Unit – Open 7 Days
The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Stirling Community Hospital offers treatment to patients across Forth Valley, including those from Clackmannanshire and Falkirk. It is open every day throughout the festive period from 9am – 9pm and no appointment is necessary. The MIU is able to treat adults and children over the age of one for a wide range of minor injuries including suspected broken bones, sprains and strains, cuts and scratches, minor burns and infected wounds.
It’s also really important to avoid attending Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital with minor, non urgent health problems as this could divert staff time and resources from seriously ill patients who need them most. However, children with minor injuries under the age of one should be taken to the Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
If you need to see a GP out-of-hours or when practices are closed, contact NHS 24 on 111. The can provide advice and arrange for you to attend a local GP out-of-hours centre, if appropriate.
Listen to the MIU Advert
Speak to A Local Pharmacist
A number of pharmacies in Forth Valley will be open on a rota system during the festive holiday period to ensure that local people can access medicines and talk to a pharmacist for health advice. Pharmacists can also provide advice and treatment for many common winter illnesses including coughs and colds. If you run out of your usual medicines or dressings they can speak to a pharmacist who may be able to arrange an urgent supply.
Stay Well This Winter
If you or someone you care about is in one of “at risk” groups for flu then contact your GP for a free flu jab. GPs are offering free flu vaccines to everyone currently aged 65 and over. Vaccines are also free for anyone who has a chronic illness such as heart disease and asthma, chronic renal and liver disease and those with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Pregnant women, carers and children aged between 2 and 11 are also eligible for a free vaccination (children are offered the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray).
Remember flu is much more than a bad cold and in the most serious cases it can even lead to pneumonia which can result in death. The vaccine doesn’t contain a ‘live’ virus so it is impossible for you to catch flu as a result of getting the jab. It will also but give you protection against swine flu and the other more common seasonal flu viruses.
If you are in one of the higher risk groups and you catch flu before you have been vaccinated you should get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and take over-the-counter medication (your pharmacist will be able to advise. If you have concerns or your symptoms are getting worse, you should contact NHS 24 on 111 or your GP. Once you have recovered you should still have the flu vaccination as there are usually several strains of flu circulating each winter.
Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is also very common in winter months. So, another key step in looking after your health this winter is to avoid visiting anyone in hospital if you feel unwell. If you have diarrhoea and vomiting wait at least 48 hours after these symptoms have stopped before visiting.
General advice and information on how to stay healthy this winter can be found at www.nhsinform.co.uk or contact NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88. Support is also available for people with mental health or psychological problems by phoning NHS 24 on 111, Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 8587 (6.00pm to 2.00am).
Listen to the Winter Services Advert
ALFY – Helping You Remain Well at Home
A new service, supported by NHS Forth Valley and our three council partners, has been introduced to help older people to remain well at home.
The service, which consists of a round-the-clock advice line known as ALFY (Advice Line For You), is currently available to anyone aged 65 or over across Forth Valley. The advice line is operated by experienced nurses who are able to listen to callers’ concerns, and make sure they receive the right help and support. This could range from offering general reassurance and advice on a wide range of health issues, to signposting callers to relevant emergency social work, voluntary or local services. Staff are also able to book appointments to attend a rapid access frailty clinic at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where a number of tests or assessments can be carried out or arrange for a community nurse to visit an older person at home, day or night, if required.
The service, which can be accessed by calling 01324 567247, is provided in partnership with Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils.
Find out more and watch the video about ALFY.
Listen to the ALFY Advert
Learn How to Save on Your Fuel Bills
Home Energy Scotland from the Scottish Government is the only source of clear and impartial advice on making your home cheaper to heat. They offer advice to everyone and already, over a third of Scotland’s households have already been offered free help. You could even get a new boiler, heating system or insulation free – helping you use less energy and save money on fuel bills. So, whatever your circumstances and wherever you live in Scotland, we’ll be able to help you too. Just make one call to the hotline or visit homeenergyscotland.org – that’s all it takes to find out more.
Further Information and Resources
- NHS Inform Flu Zone – information and useful resources about flu and the flu vaccination.
- Read more about the vaccination on the Immunisation Scotland website.
- NHS inform Winter Zone
- Ready Scotland – Preparing for Emergencies
- Stirling Council
- Falkirk Council
- Clackmannanshire Council
- Living It Up Winter Zone
- Home Energy Scotland
- Police Safety Information
- Pharmacy Opening Times for the Festive Period