Local 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 Forth Valley Royal Hospital and Falkirk and Stirling Community Hospitals.

This year GP surgeries will be closed for four days over Christmas (from Fri 25th December 25th re-opening Tuesday 29th Dec 2015) and four days over New Year (from Friday 1st Jan re-opening Tues 5th Jan 2016) 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 Christmas Day and New Year’s Day can be found on the Winter Zone of the NHS Forth Valley website www.nhsforthvalley.com/winter  Many pharmacists will also be open as normal on Saturday 26th December and Saturday 2nd January 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.

A new short video has also been produced to highlight the type of injuries which be treated at the Minor Injuries Unit. It features a number of Emergency Nurse Practitioners who work at the Unit and documents the experience of Chris Hughson a patient who attended the Unit after he injured his finger on a car door. Chris, who had an X-ray which showed his finger was actually broken, spoke highly of the care and treatment he received at the Unit. He said: “The service I received was excellent and the nurses were absolutely brilliant. I only waited around 10 minutes to be seen so I can’t complain and I would encourage anyone with a minor injury to come here as it really is an excellent facility.” The video, along with other winter health information and advice, can be found on the Winter Zone of the NHS Forth Valley website www.nhsforthvalley.com/winter

NHS Forth Valley’s Medical Director 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 on 111.”

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. 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.