NHS Forth Valley Prepares For Busy Winter Period

Extra beds, a new short stay ward and 7 day access to specialist services for lung conditions and mental health difficulties are among some of the additional measures being put in place to help ease pressures in NHS Forth Valley this winter. Additional support is also being provided to provide more care at home.

A new short stay winter ward at Forth Valley Royal Hospital will open in early December 2018 and additional winter contingency beds will also be available, if required. The introduction of an extended seven day specialist nurse COPD service is designed to help prevent people with the condition having to be admitted to hospital. And although the festive season is, for many, a happy occasion, it can also become stressful and lonely for some, resulting in higher demand for mental health support. This year mental health nurses will be working with GPs in NHS Forth Valley’s Primary Care out-of-hours service, offering help and support at night and weekends.

Another major initiative is the expansion of the frailty service to provide comprehensive assessments for the elderly and frail which can often allow people to remain in their own home with follow up care and treatment rather than being admitted to hospital. The Day Medicine Department is also relocating from the first floor to the ground floor at Forth Valley Royal, making it easier for people to access.

NHS Forth Valley’s Medical Director, Andrew Murray, said: “Winter is the busiest time of year for the NHS and it is vital to have plans in place to cope with the increase in demand. Local people can also avoid putting extra pressure on the Emergency Department by making use of other local health services for minor illnesses and injuries.

“I would also encourage everyone who is entitled to a free flu jab to ensure they get vaccinated as this is the best way to protect yourself and your family this winter.”

Pharmacists across Forth Valley can provide advice for common winter illnesses such as coughs and colds and are also now able provide free treatment for a range of 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 Centre at Stirling Health and Care Village will be open every day throughout the winter period from 9am – 9pm. It offers treatment to patients from across Forth Valley over the age of one for a wide range of minor injuries including suspected broken bones, sprains and strains, cuts and scratches, minor burns and infected wounds.

Local opticians across Forth Valley can also provide advice and support for a range of eye conditions such as blurred vision and eye infections and can refer you directly to hospital, if required.  GP and dental surgeries will be closed for a few days over Christmas and New Year however anyone who is concerned about symptoms and don’t feel they can wait until their surgery re-opens should call NHS 24 free on 111.

Details of local health information and advice, including pharmacy opening times over the festive period, can be found on our Winter Zone www.nhsforthvalley.com/winter .  You can also contact NHS inform free on 0800 22 44 88 for health information and advice