Be Ready for Winter!

The NHS Forth Valley campaign to encourage people across the area to prepare ahead for the winter period got off to a flying start with the help of some four-legged friends.

A Stirling GP, a community pharmacist from Clackmannanshire and a district nurse from the Falkirk area joined forces with a pack of Siberian huskies to help spread the message.

The NHS Forth Valley ‘Be Ready for Winter’ campaign outlines the simple steps that people can take to keep themselves well during the winter months and also highlights where people can access local health treatment and advice over the festive season.

According to Dr Wilson Evans, a GP from Viewfield Medical Centre in Stirling, winter is a very busy time for the NHS and you can do a lot to help avoid placing extra demands on hospital and emergency services by making the best use of your local pharmacy, GP practice or minor injuries services. He said:

 This year GP surgeries will only be closed for two days over Christmas and two days over New Year however if you need to see a GP when practices are closed, contact NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24 and they can direct you to your nearest GP out-of-hours centre.

“It’s also important to remember that the Minor Injuries Unit at Stirling Community Hospital offers treatment to patients from across Forth Valley and will be open every day  throughout the festive period from 9am – 9pm. This includes Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and January 2nd 2014.”

Community Pharmacist, Lynzie Mack who works at the T A Mack Pharmacy in Tillicoultry, also pointed out that pharmacists can play a key role in helping you stay well this winter. She said:

 “Your local pharmacy 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. If you or someone you care for requires medicines regularly, check your existing supplies and make sure you have enough to last you over the festive period.”

District Nurse Tracey McKinstrie, who is based in the Stenhousemuir Health Centre, added:

 “Winter always brings extra challenges in terms of health so it makes sense to be well prepared.  I’d encourage anyone who is eligible for a free flu jab to get vaccinated at their local GP surgery. Community Nurses will also be working throughout the festive period to ensure patients across Forth Valley continue to receive the treatment and support they require at home.”

Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is also very common in winter months. The virus can pass from one person to another very easily so if you experience diarrhoea and vomiting wait at least 48 hours after these symptoms have stopped before visiting anyone in hospital.