Keep Healthy This Winter – Local Health Information and Advice for the Festive Period

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 doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, will be working across Forth Valley and GP cover has been arranged to support the out-of-hours service. Additional hospital beds will also be available, if required, throughout the winter period.

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.

Pharmacies across Forth Valley will operate a rota-system over the festive period to ensure local people can access over the counter medicines, prescriptions and speak to a pharmacist for health advice. Details of the opening times can be found by contacting NHS 24 on 111 or visiting the winter zone on the NHS Forth Valley website

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 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.

People across Forth Valley are also being encouraged to take the following simple steps to help keep healthy this winter:

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 children aged between 2 and 11 years 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.
Avoid Spreading Norovirus

Anyone with diarrhoea and vomiting is asked to wait at least 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped before visiting places such as hospitals, care homes, schools and nurseries. This will help avoid the infection spreading to vulnerable children and older people.

 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 the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 8587 (6.00pm to 2.00am).