Help us to help others this winter

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NHS 24 is urging people in the Western Isles to look after their health this winter with a few simple steps that can help to avoid illness and take the pressure off busy NHSScotland services over the festive holidays.

The advice is being shared as part of the national ‘Be Healthwise’ campaign launched by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison MSP.

The Minister was joined by a group of health and medical staff at the New Victoria Hospital in Glasgow to highlight to the public, the importance of looking after their own and their families’ health.

The ‘Be Healthwise’ campaign is fronted by Dr Owl and advises people that stocking up on over the counter medicines, checking any repeat prescriptions and ordering only what is needed to cover the holidays can help to avoid or deal with the most common winter ailments.

It’s also a good idea to know GP surgery and local pharmacy opening hours over the festive break.

Being prepared for common winter illnesses, or knowing where to get help if ill health does strike means that dedicated NHSScotland staff can help those most in need at one of the busiest times of the year.

NHS Western Isles Medical Director, Dr Angus McKellar said: “Our out of hours GPs and other healthcare staff will be working across the Western Isles throughout the festive break to ensure that people who become ill and need urgent care will be seen. We appreciate the dedication and hard work of all our staff who will be working over Christmas and New Year.

“Please help them by finding out your local surgery’s opening hours, making sure that you have enough medicine to see you through the festive period, don’t leave the ordering of your repeat prescriptions until the last minute, stock up on simple remedies – and don’t forget to get the flu jag if you are eligible for it.”

NHS 24’s Medical Director Professor George Crooks added: “Winter can be a busy time, especially over the festive holidays, and the NHS across Scotland prepares for this additional pressure. Last year NHS 24’s 111 service took almost 76,000 calls over the 8 days of the festive break.

“That’s 28% more calls than we’d normally expect and almost half of those calls were about medicines.

“Being prepared by having enough repeat medication to cover you and having some simple home remedies available can make all the difference if illness strikes.

“It means people can not only look after their own health but also support our dedicated NHS to focus on people who may need additional care.

“We would also remind people of the wide range of health information available at NHS Inform which also now includes a self-help guide to enable people to understand their symptoms and make a choice about how they deal with it.

“Using these services, rather than turning up at A&E, will keep our emergency departments free for those who really need them.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “We know winter months can put additional pressures on our hospitals and GPs’ surgeries, which is why we have been working to provide additional support to health boards over winter to ensure people get the care they need.

“But we can also all do our own bit to look after our own and our family’s health, and help preserve our frontline services for those most in need. The Be Healthwise campaign helps to remind people about the excellent range of services available.

“For example, people who run out of medicines or dressings can speak to a pharmacist about an urgent supply, rather than going to their A&E or GP out-of-hours service.

“In addition, those who can protect themselves early should do so. Every year in Scotland, thousands of adults and children are hospitalised for treatment of flu and its complications. The flu vaccination provides the best defence against flu, so I would encourage everyone who is eligible to take up the offer of the free flu vaccine.”