Be ready for winter

Posted on 27/11/2013 by


BeReadyForWinterA NATIONAL health campaign highlighting the importance for people in Edinburgh and the Lothians being prepared for winter was launched today. The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil was joined by a group of schoolchildren and NHS 24’s Associate Medical Director Dr Laura Ryan at Edinburgh’s Christmas to launch the Be Ready for Winter campaign. 

The NHS Scotland campaign advises people that by re-stocking their medicine cabinet, checking their repeat prescriptions and knowing when their GP surgery is open, they can ensure they are well prepared for the winter.

Health Minister Alex Neil said: “Edinburgh’s Christmas venue here today is a reminder of some of the fun-filled activities we can take part in at this time of year. It is a busy time of year, especially for families with young children, and it is easy for your health to take a backseat.

“That is why it is important for people in Scotland, especially parents and older people, to take a few simple steps to help make sure they stay healthy. By finding out what services are open and stocking up on winter remedies, we can prevent winter illnesses from spoiling the holiday period. It will also ensure that emergency lifesaving services are kept free for those who really need them.

“Last winter saw increased pressures including an early start to the norovirus season, an increase in respiratory illnesses, and increased pressure on A&E departments, and it is really important that you know who to turn to when you are ill. For some illnesses, your local pharmacist, GP, NHS 24 or minor injuries unit may be a more suitable place to go to rather than A&E.”

This year, GP surgeries will be closed for two days at Christmas (Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 December) and again for two days at New Year (Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 January).  

NHS 24’s Associate Medical Director Laura Ryan said it is important to prepare ahead for this time: “I would urge 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. Your local pharmacist is 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 urgent out of hours GP services through NHS 24.”

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, require medicines regularly, check that you have enough and if you need more remember to order and collect repeat prescriptions in good time to ensure you or your family have enough medicine to last over the Christmas holiday period. Only order what you need.

Know when your GP surgery will be open

Your local doctor’s surgery will be open on Tuesday December 24 and will then reopen on Friday 27 December. This means there are two days when it is closed – Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Doctors Surgeries will follow normal opening hours on Tuesday 31 December and will then reopen on Friday 3 January.

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