NHS ready for winter challenges

Public health minister Aileen Campbell (right) recently visited NHS Scotland's national distribution centre.
Public health minister Aileen Campbell (right) recently visited NHS Scotland's national distribution centre.
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The NHS in Scotland is preparing to be on the “front foot” this winter and the public and local communities are being encourage to do the same to do the same.

NHS boards across the country are now putting their final plans in place to prepare for the extra pressures winter presents.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell visited the NHS National Distribution Centre recently to hear how the health service’s central logistics team will manage the delivery of essential supplies over winter, and she also called on the public to play its pare in the smooth delivery of services.

Each year NHS National Services Scotland Logistics (NSS Logistics) delivers 47 million domestic and medical items to hospital wards, departments and community health centres across Scotland.

Deliveries can increase by as much as 20 per cent during peak winter periods, with severe weather also impacting on the service.

All frontline health boards are required to have their final winter plans in place by November and the Scottish Government published guidance in August for the NHS on how to prepare. These plans must also take in to account the impact of severe weather.

Ms Campbell said: “We are working hard to ensure the NHS is as prepared as it can be for the extra demands on our services over the winter. Our winter guidance for health boards published in the summer and we have invested £9 million in emergency and unscheduled care this year, as well as £30 million in reducing delayed discharge - which will support boards to manage winter pressures.

“Winter weather can also pose additional challenges for the NHS and social care and detailed preparations are in place to ensure our services remain resilient – even in the most severe conditions.

“While it is important that our health service is resilient, it is also incumbent upon all of us to ensure we are doing what we can to prepare ourselves for winter. Whether that is getting your flu jab if you are eligible, ensuring you are have sufficient stocks of medicines at home or knowing which local health services to turn to if you fall ill, we can all play our part in being resilient over winter.”

Jim Miller, NSS director, said: “Through collaboration with health boards, careful forward planning, strategic investment and, not least, the hard work and commitment of our staff, NSS Logistics maintains the highest levels of resilience to ensure vital supplies reach hospital wards, departments and community health centres throughout Scotland.”