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Wintry launch for National Health Campaign

23rd November 2011

Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon took to the slopes with school children to highlight the importance of being prepared for winter.

The group braved the chill of a snowy winter wonderland at the SNO!zone Scotland centre in Glasgow's Xscape, to encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to ensure they can take care of themselves and their families and have their own "wonderful" festive period this year.

The children were joined by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and NHS 24 Medical Director, Dr George Crooks, to launch the national Be Ready for Winter campaign.

The NHSScotland campaign advises people that by re-stocking their medicine cabinet, ordering repeat prescriptions and knowing their GP surgery opening and closing times over the festive holidays, they can ensure they well prepared to cope with winter health.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "It is important to remember that access to GPs and pharmacists will be limited over Christmas and New Year. Planning ahead can help ensure that coughs, colds and minor ailments don't become a big problem for you and your family this winter.

"As well as making sure you have sufficient supplies of any regular medication you may need, your medicine cabinet should be well stocked with things like painkillers, a cough bottle and antiseptic.

"Last year's winter was one of the most severe ever seen in Scotland so it is important to be prepared. A little preparation can really pay off to make sure that minor health problems don't become a major headache."

This year, GP surgeries will be closed for four days at Christmas (December 24-27) and for four days again at New Year (December 31 - January 3).

Dr Crooks said it is important to prepare ahead for this time: "As we have demonstrated today, the winter period can be a very fun and exciting time, especially for children, when they have the opportunity to take part in activities like sledging, skiing, and snowboarding which the winter weather usually brings. By preparing ahead, people can ensure they can make the most of the festive period, by not allowing winter coughs and colds to spoil their fun.

"I would advise people to take the time now to re-stock their medicine cabinet with items such as paracetamol, cough mixture, throat lozenges and cold and flu treatments, to deal with any winter ailments that may inevitably strike this winter.

"Your local pharmacist is also a good source of information and advice on re-stocking your medicine cabinet. If you need to visit your GP, try to schedule an appointment before the festive period and submit your repeat prescription request in plenty of time. Remember you can also access out of hours GP services through NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24."

Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee said: "Winter is the time of year when a lot of people will develop a cold or flu and the best way to manage these ailments is to ensure that you stock up on the remedies that are available in pharmacies and supermarkets. For those who are eligible, it's important to get the annual flu vaccination from your GP surgery.

"While it's important to be prepared, patients should be reassured that over the holiday season, even if their GP surgery is closed, they will be able to see a GP if they need to. Anyone experiencing health problems during the holidays should contact NHS 24 for advice."

The national Be Ready for Winter campaign is supported by NHSScotland in partnership with NHS 24, the Scottish Ambulance Service and all 14 Scottish Health Boards.

General advice and information on how to stay healthy this winter can be found at www.nhsinform.co.uk or contact NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88.

The four key steps that Be Ready for Winter is recommending everyone take in preparation for their health this winter are:

Restock your winter medicine cabinet
Many children and adults pick up common winter ailments such as a cold or flu-like illness. These can often be effectively treated at home with readily available medicine. Parents are reminded to restock their medicine cabinet with remedies suitable for children.

Use your local pharmacy
Your local pharmacy is an accessible resource for you and your family. Your pharmacist can offer advice or help if you have run out of any prescribed medication. You can also collect medicine for minor ailments or illnesses.

Make sure you have repeat prescriptions.
If you or someone you care for requires medicines regularly, make sure you order and collect repeat prescriptions in good time to ensure you or your family have enough medicine to last over the Christmas holiday period.

Know when your GP surgery will be open
Your local doctor's surgery will be open on Friday 23rd December, then closed for four days during the Christmas period and it will reopen on Wednesday 28th. The surgery will be shut again from December 31st-3rd January at, and reopen on Wednesday 4th January, 2012.

 

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