Public Urged to Use Alternatives to ED Over Festive Period

Local people across Forth Valley are being reminded that they should only attend the Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert if they have a serious illness or injury which requires urgent treatment.

Anyone over the age of one with less serious injuries such as suspected broken bones, sprains and strains, cuts and scratches, minor head, neck, eye and ear injuries, minor burns and infected wounds are advised to attend the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Stirling Community Hospital, which will be open every day throughout the festive period, including the Christmas and New Year public holidays, from 9am – 9pm. No appointment is necessary and, at this busy time of year, waiting times within the Unit are normally shorter than those at the Emergency Department.

This year GP surgeries across Forth Valley will be closed for four days over Christmas (Thursday 25th December re-opening Monday 29th December 2014) and for four days over New Year (Thursday 1st January re-opening Monday 5th January 2015). Anyone experiencing health problems when their surgery is closed should contact NHS 24 for advice by dialling 111.

The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Stirling Community Hospital will be 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 (children with minor injuries under the age of one should be taken to the Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital ) for a wide range of minor injuries including suspected broken bones, sprains and strains, cuts and scratches, minor burns and infected wounds.

Pharmacists can also offer health advice and treatment for a wide range of common illnesses such as coughs and colds, fever, sore throats and stomach upsets without having to see your GP. Pharmacies across Forth Valley will operate a rota-system over the Christmas and New Year holidays to ensure local people can access over the counter medicines, prescriptions and speak to a pharmacist. Details of the opening times for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and the 2nd January 2015 can be found on the winter zone of the NHS Forth Valley website www.nhsforthvalley.com/winter

Many pharmacists will also be open as normal on Saturday 27th December and Saturday 3rd January 2015.

NHS Forth Valley’s Medical Director Miss Tracey Gillies explained: “It’s important to remember that Emergency Departments are for people who have serious illnesses or injuries which require urgent care. You can help avoid putting extra strain on hospital services at this busy time of year by making use of the Minor Injuries Unit at Stirling Community Hospital or seeking advice from a local pharmacist or the NHS 24 helpline if your condition is not urgent.

“Patients should also be reassured that they will still be able to see a GP if they need to when their surgery is closed by contacting NHS 24 on 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. Local health service information, including pharmacy festive opening times across Forth Valley, can be found at www.nhsforthvalley.com/winter

Support is also available for people with mental health or psychological problems throughout the festive season by phoning the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87