Winter information

Get the Right Care in Right Place This Winter

Health and Social Care services in Forth Valley are preparing for the toughest winter yet as services faces large numbers of patients along with high rates of coronavirus in local communities, including the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant.

This combined with higher than usual levels of patients experiencing delays in being discharged from local hospitals has placed unprecedented pressures on local health services as we head into the festive period. To help address this local people are being asked to help by ensuring they get the Right Care in the Right Place during the busy winter period.

The Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital is exceptionally busy at this time of year and is there to treat patients with serious illnesses and injuries, like suspected heart attacks, strokes and breathing difficulties, who require emergency care. Anyone with a non-life-threatening condition, who requires urgent healthcare or advice, should call NHS 24 on 111, day or night, to access healthcare advice and treatment as quickly as possible.

Patients who attend the Emergency Department with minor or non-urgent conditions may, where appropriate, be safely redirected to other more appropriate services in or out with the hospital. This could be the Minor Injuries Unit at Stirling Health and Care Village, your local pharmacist or GP practice or the Urgent Care Centre within Forth Valley Royal Hospital. A number of one stop medical and surgical clinics are also being developed to provide rapid, same day access to tests and treatment to help avoid the need for hospital admissions.

NHS Forth Valley’s Medical Director, Andrew Murray, explained: “Winter is always a very busy time for health service, but this year we face extra pressures due to the ongoing pandemic and the worrying emergence of the new Omicron variant which is spreading rapidly across the country. We are therefore asking local people to take a few simple steps to ensure they are prepared in the run up to the festive period and access the health services and advice available to help them get the right care in the right place this winter.

“This will help keep avoid long waits and prevent our Emergency Department from becoming overcrowded. It will also free up our ED staff to deliver care as quickly as possible to those patients most in need of our help.”

GP practices will be open as normal on Friday 24th December 2021 and Friday 31st December and will only be closed for two days at Christmas (Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th December 2021) and two days at New Year (Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th January 2022). Please ensure you check any repeat prescription you rely on and order only what you need before the festive break.

The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at Stirling Health and Care Village will remain open every day over the festive period, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It can treat adults and children over the age of one for cuts and grazes, minor burns, sprains and strains. It can also help with minor eye and ear injuries and X-ray and treat broken bones including broken ankles and wrists. This year, people are being asked to phone NHS 24 on 111 before attending the MIU so they can speak direct to a local healthcare professional which may avoid the need to travel to the Unit. They can also be given a priority appointment if they do need to be seen so that they don’t need to wait when they attend.

A number of local pharmacists across Forth Valley will be open for periods of time on the festive public holidays, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. As part of a national service called Pharmacy First, all local pharmacists are able to provide free treatment for a range of common conditions without a GP prescription. These include urine infections, conjunctivitis, skin conditions (such as eczema, dermatitis and reactions to insect bites) skin infections (such as cellulitis and impetigo) and thrush.

Local opticians across Forth Valley can provide advice and treatment for a wide range of common eye conditions such as blurred vision and eye infections or refer you directly to hospital if the problem is more serious.

More information on local health services, including details of pharmacy opening times over the festive period, can be found on the Winter Zone of NHS Forth Valley’s website