Be Ready for Winter Health Advice

NHS Forth Valley is gearing up to cope with extra demands over the festive season and is urging the public to make use of local GP, pharmacy and minor injuries services to avoid putting extra pressure on the Emergency Department at this busy time of year.

More medical and nursing staff and AHPs will be working and additional GP time is also being secured to support the GP out-of-hours service. Throughout the winter period, extra contingency beds will be available, if required, at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and Stirling Community Hospital.

This year GP surgeries will be closed for two days over Christmas (Wed 25th Dec and Thurs 26th Dec 2013) and for two days over New Year (Wed 1st Jan and Thurs 2nd Jan 2014). People across Forth Valley are being encouraged to take a few simple steps to keep themselves well and to use the most appropriate NHS services if they require health treatment and advice.

The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Stirling Community Hospital will remain open everyday throughout the festive period from 9am to 9pm.  This provides treatment for a wide range of injuries, such as suspected broken bones, sprains, minor burns and infected wounds. No appointment is necessary and, while the MIU is based in Stirling, it can be used by any patient from across Forth Valley over the age of one.

Pharmacies across Forth Valley also operate a rota-system over the festive period and details of local opening times can be found on the Winter Zone of the NHS Forth Valley website ( or by contacting NHS 24 on 111.

NHS Forth Valley’s Medical Director Dr Peter Murdoch explained:

 “Winter is a very busy time for the NHS and it’s important to remember that the Emergency Department is for people who have serious illnesses or injuries which require urgent care.

Many people arrive at the Emergency Department with minor injuries or illnesses that could either be treated quickly at the Minor Injuries Unit or be dealt with by their local GP or pharmacist.”

For more winter health information and advice visit the Winter Zone on the NHS Forth Valley website This has details of local health services available over the festive period, plus links to other sources of information and advice to stay well and safe this winter, including interviews with a local pharmacist and a nurse who works in the Minor Injuries Unit.

Other things you can do to help stay well this winter include:

Protect yourself from Flu

If you are eligible for a flu vaccination and haven’t yet been immunised contact your local GP to arrange an appointment.  GPs are offering flu vaccines to everyone aged 65 and over, people with a chronic illness such as heart disease and asthma and those with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Pregnant women and carers are also eligible for vaccination and, for the first time, all two and three year old children are being offered a flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray.

Restock your winter medicine cabinet

Many children and adults pick up common winter ailments such as a cold or flu-like illness. These can often be effectively treated at home with readily available medicine. Parents are reminded to restock their medicine cabinet with remedies suitable for children.

Make sure you have repeat prescriptions

If you or someone you care for requires medicines regularly, check your existing supplies and make sure you have enough to last over the holiday period. If not, please make sure you collect your repeat prescription before the start of the festive period.

Ask your pharmacist

For advice on common complaints including coughs and colds, high temperature/fever, sore throats and stomach upsets. If you have a minor illness, a pharmacist can sell non-prescription medicines or provide them free of charge if you are eligible under the NHS minor ailment service. Check for pharmacy opening times over the festive period.

Know when your GP surgery will be open

Your local doctor’s surgery will be closed on December 25 and 26th 2013 and January 1st and 2nd 2014. If you need to see a GP out of hours or when practices are closed, contact NHS 24 on 111.

Dental Services

A dental helpline staffed by dental nurses is available for patients who are not registered with a dentist. The number for the helpline, which operates between 8.30am and 6.00pm Monday to Friday, is 0844 800 6886. Patients who are registered with a dentist should call their dental practice.

For dental emergencies after 6.00pm, and at weekends and public holidays, all patients should contact NHS 24 on 111.

Get health information and advice

General advice and information on how to stay healthy this winter can be found at 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)