Wintry launch for national health campaign

PEOPLE in Edinburgh and the Lothians were today urged to prepare ahead for the winter period as part of a major health campaign.

The national Be Ready for Winter campaign highlights the simple steps that people, particularly parents, carers and the elderly, can take to keep themselves and their families well during the cold months.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy, Nicola Sturgeon, was joined by a group of schoolchildren on the ski slopes today (Monday November 21) to launch the campaign which advises people that by re-stocking their medicine cabinet, ordering repeat prescriptions and knowing when their GP surgery is closed, they can ensure they are not caught out.

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 David Farquharson, Medical Director at NHS Lothian, said:

“In these colder months it is important for everyone in Lothian, particularly parents and elderly people, to take a few simple steps so they are prepared if they are unlucky enough to catch a cough or cold this winter.
“Although colds and flu can make you feel really ill, pharmacists can often provide the best help and advice on restocking your medicine cabinet. If you do need to visit your GP finding out when your local practice is open and scheduling an appointment before they close for the festive period is also another way of making sure you are not caught out this winter.
“People can also access out of hours GP services through NHS 24.”

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 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.


For more information or to request an interview, please contact Suzy Aspley at NHS 24 on 0141 337 4506 or Amelia Whittaker at NHS 24 on 07768858927.