Public Asked to Avoid Putting Pressure on A&E Services

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 on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (re-opening on Wednesday 27th December) and on Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd January 2018 (re-opening on Wednesday 3rd Jan 2018). GP practices which normally open for extended hours will continue to operate these arrangements on the Wed, Thurs and Friday after Christmas and New Year.

A number of pharmacies in Forth Valley will be operate a rota system during this holiday period to ensure that local people can access medicines and talk to a pharmacist for health advice. Many pharmacists will also be open as normal on Tuesday December 26th and Tuesday January 2nd 2018.

In addition, local pharmacies across Forth Valley provide a service called Pharmacy First which enables them to provide treatment for a range of common conditions including urine infections, skin conditions, conjunctivitis and thrush, without the need for a prescription. Details of the pharmacy rota and Pharmacy First service can be found on the Winter Zone of the NHS Forth Valley website

 The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Stirling Community Hospital will remain open every day 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 Mr Andrew Murray 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. We have already seen an increasing number of people turning up for treatment due to falls in icy weather.

“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.”

Local pharmacist Hollie Graham, said: “Remember your local pharmacist can provide treatment and advice for a wide range of common health problems, including many which previously required a prescription from your GP. There will also be a rota system in place over the Christmas and New Year holidays to ensure local people across Forth Valley can access medicines and talk to a pharmacist if they require health advice.”