Get the Right Care in the Right Place to Help the NHS This Winter

NHS Forth Valley is preparing for its toughest winter yet as health and social care services across the area continue to face exceptional high levels of demand.

As we head into the festive period local people are being asked to help by ensuring they get the Right Care in the Right Place during the busy winter period.

The Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital is exceptionally busy at this time of year and is there to treat patients with serious illnesses and injuries, like suspected heart attacks, strokes and breathing difficulties, who require emergency care. Anyone with a non-life-threatening condition, who requires urgent healthcare or advice, should call NHS 24 on 111, day or night, to access healthcare advice and treatment as quickly as possible.

Patients who attend the Emergency Department with minor or non-urgent conditions may, where appropriate, be safely redirected to other more appropriate services in or out with the hospital. This could be the Minor Injuries Unit at Stirling Health and Care Village, your local pharmacist or GP practice or the Urgent Care Centre within Forth Valley Royal Hospital. A number of one stop medical and surgical clinics are also being developed to provide rapid, same day access to tests and treatment to help avoid the need for hospital admissions.

GP Practices will be open as normal on Friday 23rd December 2021 and Friday 30th December 2022 and will only be closed for two days at Christmas (Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th December 2021) and two days at New Year (Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd January 2023). Please ensure you check any repeat prescription you rely on and order only what you need before the festive break. A number of local pharmacists across Forth Valley will be open for periods of time on the festive public holidays, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. As part of a national service called Pharmacy First, all local pharmacists are able to provide free treatment for a range of common conditions without a GP prescription. These include urine infections, conjunctivitis, skin conditions (such as eczema, dermatitis and reactions to insect bites) skin infections (such as cellulitis and impetigo) and thrush.

The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Stirling Health and Care Village will remain open every day over the festive period, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It can treat adults and children over the age of one for cuts and grazes, minor burns, sprains and strains. It can also help with minor eye and ear injuries and X-ray and treat broken bones including broken ankles and wrists. People are asked to phone NHS 24 on 111 before attending the MIU so they can speak direct to a local healthcare professional which may avoid the need to travel to the Unit. They can also be given a priority appointment if they do need to be seen so that they don’t need to wait when they attend.

Local opticians across Forth Valley can provide advice and treatment for a wide range of common eye conditions such as blurred vision and eye infections or refer you directly to hospital if the problem is more serious.

NHS Forth Valley’s Medical Director, Andrew Murray, explained: “Winter is always a very busy time for the NHS, but this year all parts of the health service are facing unprecedented pressures due to exceptionally high demand across hospital, community and primary care services. We are therefore asking local people to ensure they access the local health services and advice available to help them get the right care in the right place as quickly as possible this winter.

“This will also help avoid long waits and prevent our Emergency Department from becoming overcrowded and free up staff to deliver care as quickly as possible to those patients most in need of our help.

“It’s also important to remember that Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and we are starting to see an increase in cases of flu along with other respiratory illnesses. I’d therefore encourage anyone who is eligible to ensure they get their Covid-19 booster and flu vaccinations ahead of the festive period when many people will be socialising more with friends and family.”

More information on local health services, including details of pharmacy opening times over the festive period and links to other useful sources of information and advice, can be found on the Winter Zone of NHS Forth Valley’s website