People across Greater Glasgow are being encouraged to take a few small steps to avoid illness ruining their winter, as part of a national health drive launched this week by NHS Scotland, in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
The ‘Be Ready for Winter’ campaign highlights how and when people can access NHS services during winter and what they can do to help fend off the illnesses which typically take hold at this time of year, such as colds, coughs, sore throats and flu.
This year, GP surgeries will be closed for four days over Christmas (December 25 to 28) and for four days over New Year (January 1 to 4). However, many GPs will be working be working throughout this period supporting out of hours services across Scotland.
The campaign encourages people to ask pharmacists for help in treating common winter ailments such as colds, coughs and flu; to make an appointment with their GP if they have an illness or injury that just won’t go away and to only use out of hours services when they can’t wait to see their own GP. People are being advised to check pharmacy opening times and make sure they have the necessary medication to see them through the festive period in particular.
The five simple steps to preparing for winter and treating common illnesses at home include:
§ ensuring medicine cabinets are restocked to deal with minor ailments
§ understanding the services and advice local pharmacists can provide if people are unwell
§ making sure repeat medicines are ordered to avoid running out during weekends or holidays
§ finding out the opening times of local GPs and pharmacies, particularly over the festive season
§ one of the best things you can do this winter is to be prepared and try to keep fit and well
Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), said: “Self-caring during winter can help people to fend off common winter illnesses and enables local health services to provide help where it is most needed.
"Common colds, coughs and seasonal flu can be treated by keeping warm, resting and drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. Paracetamol and ibuprofen which are available without a prescription can reduce high temperatures and ease aches and pains.
"It’s also worth remembering that a pharmacist can also advise you on which medicines you may need, meaning you don’t have to wait to see a doctor. But of course, if you think your condition is serious, don’t hesitate to visit your GP.
"I would particularly encourage everyone eligible to arrange to get their free seasonal flu and H1N1 flu vaccinations from their GP. This is the most effective way of protecting yourself from the flu.
"Everyone can also play a part in minimising the spread of flu-like illness by washing their hands and catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue."
NHS 24 Medical Director, Dr George Crooks, said: “We always encourage people to help themselves fend off the usual winter illnesses by being well prepared at this time of year. By adding a few extra items to your shopping list, by making sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked and by knowing when your GP surgery will be closed, you can ensure you and your family are well prepared for winter.
“This year, as we are all aware, we also have H1N1 circulating within communities. It is therefore even more important to follow the Be Ready for Winter advice, as well as maintaining hygiene standards, such as washing your hands regularly and using and disposing of tissues appropriately.”
The campaign, which is now in its fifth year, is being led by NHSScotland in partnership with NHS 24, the Scottish Ambulance Service, all Scottish NHS health boards, Scotland’s pharmacy counters and out of hours services.
For further information on keeping well this winter, pharmacy opening times and telephone numbers, visit www.nhs24.com or call the NHS helpline on 0800 22 44 88.
For further information:
Nicola McArthur/Lucy Hewitt at Consolidated PR
0131 240 6420
07900 804 720 /07877 531 407
Notes to editors:
§ This year’s campaign will utilise TV, radio, print and outdoor media across Scotland throughout the winter months to February.
§ In addition, around 260,000 leaflets offering winter health advice will be distributed across the country.
Be Ready for Winter - Top Five Tips
1. Restock your winter medicine cabinet
Many winter illnesses can be treated at home with basic medicine, so make sure you restock your medicine cabinet with items such as pain killers, sore throat remedies and anti-histamines.
2. Visit your local pharmacy
Everyone can get advice from their local pharmacist. A pharmacist can recommend the most appropriate treatment for you and you can also buy medicine for a wide range of minor ailments or illnesses, from acne to allergies, coughs to cold sores and hangovers to headaches.
3. Get your repeat prescription on time
If you take regular medication, make sure you have enough to cover holiday periods such as Christmas and New Year and order your prescriptions in plenty of time.
4. Know your GP surgery opening times
This year, GP surgeries will be closed for four days over Christmas and for four days over New Year. Many GPs will be working be working throughout this period supporting out of hours services across Scotland but it is important to know when your GP surgery will be open.
5. Be prepared
One of the best things you can do this winter is to try and keep fit and well. Taking the simple steps as outlined above and maintaining good hygiene standards is important in stopping the spread of flu-like illnesses. Making sure to cough and sneeze into a tissue, disposing of tissues appropriately and making sure to wash hands thoroughly and regularly are all important steps to take.