Festive break advice for patients

NHS SHETLAND is reminding people to make preparations for the two four-day holiday breaks over Christmas and New Year when doctors’ surgeries will be closed.

The “Be Ready for Winter” campaign, launched in November by television personality Sarah Heaney and Scottish health minister Nicola Sturgeon, wants people to beat the winter bugs by self-caring – knowing when and how to access health services and planning ahead for the closures.

NHS 24 medical director and campaign spokesman George Crooks teamed up with Ms Heaney and 10-year-olds Connor McNeil and Kaitlin McCoo to remind people of the situation. Although surgeries will be closed from 25th to 28th December and from 1st to 4th January, out-of-hours services across Shetland are fully prepared for the break with GPs and clinical staff working hard to deliver services during the holidays.

NHS Shetland director of pharmacy Chris Nicolson said: “We want to reassure everyone that we are fully geared up and prepared for the break. Although there will be two lots of four-day public holiday closures this year, our dedicated staff will be working hard to ensure that local out-of-hours services are available and that people can access them when needed.

“It is particularly important that families or older people know when local GP practices and pharmacies are open, particularly if they are visiting family or friends in different places or are likely to need a repeat prescription.

“Pharmacists can now deal with many of the minor ailments that people would normally go to see their doctor about, which means they are helping take the pressure off other services and offering patients a convenient alternative.”

NHS Scotland and its partners have produced five top tips to help people get ready this winter. They are: ? Restock your winter medicine cabinet. Many winter illnesses can be treated at home with basic medicine, so make sure you restock your medicine cabinet.

  • Use your local pharmacy. Your local pharmacy is an accessible health resource for you and your family. Everyone can get advice from their local pharmacist and free treatment for minor ailments or illnesses (if they do not normally pay for prescriptions), from acne to allergies, coughs to cold sores, hangovers to headaches.
  • Make sure you have your repeat prescription. If you take medicines regularly on prescription, make sure you order and collect your repeat prescription in plenty of time so you don’t run out! If you need repeat medicines urgently contact your local pharmacist.
  • Know when your GP surgery will be open. Most GP surgeries are shut from 6pm on Friday night until 8am on Monday morning. GP surgeries are also closed on public holidays. Your GP practice will be open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
  • Be prepared. One of the best things you can do this winter is to try to keep fit and well.

This is the fourth year that NHS Scotland has run the campaign but this winter is set to be the biggest and most high profile to date. For further information on keeping well this winter and pharmarcy opening times, visit www.nhs24.com or call the NHS Helpline on 0800 224488.


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