Health Information And Advice For The Festive Season

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.

Additional medical, nursing staff and AHPs will be working in local hospitals and in the community to provide healthcare treatment and support. Doctors, nursing and support staff will also be working to support the GP out-of-hours service. Throughout the winter period, extra contingency beds will be available, if required, at local hospitals.

This year, GP surgeries will be closed on Monday 26th December 2016 and Tuesday 27th December 2016, re-opening on Wednesday 28th December 2016. Over the New Year period they will be closed on Monday 2nd January and Tuesday 3rd January 2017, re-opening on Wednesday 4th January 2017. However, a number of pharmacies in Forth Valley will be open on a rota system during this holiday period to ensure that local people can access medicines and talk to a pharmacist for health advice. Details of the opening times for the festive period (including Christmas and New Year’s Day) can be found on the Winter Zone of the NHS Forth Valley website  Many pharmacists will also be open as normal on Saturday 24th December 2016 and Saturday 31st December 2016.

 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.

NHS Forth Valley’s Medical Director Miss Tracey Gillies explained: “Winter is a very busy time for the NHS and it’s important to remember that the Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital is for people who have serious illnesses or injuries which require urgent care.

“You can help avoid putting extra strain on hospital and emergency services by making use of the Minor Injuries Unit at Stirling Community Hospital or seeking advice from a local pharmacist if your condition is not urgent. Patients will also be still be able to see a GP if they need to when their surgery is closed by contacting NHS 24 free on 111.”

Local people aged 65 or over and their families can also call ALFY (Advice Line For You) – a local health advice line 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 for tests or assessments or arrange for a community nurse to visit an older person at home, day or night, if required. The service can be accessed 24hrs, 7 days a week by calling 01324 567247 and is provided in partnership with Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils.

Anyone eligible for a free flu vaccination who hasn’t yet been immunised is urged to contact their local GP to arrange an appointment.  This includes everyone aged 65 and over, people with a chronic illness such as heart disease and asthma, pregnant women and carers. All nursery and primary school aged children are also eligible for a free flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray.