Healthcare services are busy – here’s what you can do to help

Winter is always a busy time for the NHS with health and social care teams working hard to manage the additional demands of winter illnesses, including flu and COVID-19.

NHS Tayside doctors, nurses and other teams have already taken action to try and get ahead of the demands being placed on health and social care by looking at where staff are needed the most and how services ensure they can keep caring for the people who are most ill, including in our emergency departments.

However, there are some simple things that the public can do to help keep health and social care services running.

Emergency Medicine Consultant, and Clinical Service Director for Winter, Dr Andy Reddick explains how the public can also play their part: “We have the plans in place to help us face the dual challenges of winter and COVID-19, however there are ways every person in Tayside can help support us over the coming busy weeks and months.

“For example, one way the public can really support us is by helping if they have a loved one, friend or neighbour in hospital and they are ready to return home.

“It is a great help if someone can collect the patient from hospital and get them safely home. Maybe a family member, neighbour or a voluntary organisation could help. Also, make sure the person’s heating is on, their cupboards are stocked and they have all the medication they need.

“This helps us here in hospital and out in community services as it means patients can get home as soon as they are well enough and hospital beds are available for these people who are most ill and really need to be in hospital.

“It’s also really important that people know where to go to get the right health care for their needs. This makes sure our GP and A&E services are available for people who really need them. For example, local community pharmacies are a great resource and can help with a range of minor illnesses, such as a cold, an upset stomach or general aches and pains.

“Make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked with over-the-counter medicines. Remember to follow the latest guidance if you are feeling unwell. Socialise in well ventilated spaces where possible. Please help us by staying well and keeping safe this winter .

“And remember, if you think you need A&E but it’s not life threatening, you should phone NHS 24 on 111 who will direct you to the appropriate care. If you need to come to A&E, you will be given an appointment to save you having to wait.”

NHS Inform also has a handy symptom checker for common illnesses with information about what to do about your symptoms. For when your GP surgery, optician or dentist is closed, and you cannot wait for them to reopen, call NHS 24 on 111 where you will be given advice to make sure you see the right health professional.

NHS 24 has also developed a new mobile app where you can find out more about your symptoms, tips on self-care and what to do if your condition worsens. You can download the NHS 24 Online app from Google Play and the App Store.

NHS Tayside has a one-stop-shop for information about how to stay safe and healthy this winter at This includes details of festive GP closures, pharmacy opening times and where to get the right care at the right place and ways to ensure you and your family can be as prepared as possible.

As always the latest guidance is shared on NHS Tayside’s social media channels. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date.