After an exceptionally busy Christmas weekend for NHS 24 staff, the NHS is encouraging the public to take necessary preparations this Hogmanay – as GP practices will be closed until Wednesday the 5th of January.
Medical Director Dr Laura Ryan said: “We’re now planning for the Hogmanay weekend, which we know will also be busy, so we are urging people to be prepared. GP practices are not open until Wednesday 5th January so people should pick up any regular medications they rely on.
“Home remedies such as simple pain relief, antihistamines or rehydration salts are a good idea and if you think you might need help or advice for simple health matters, please use NHS inform as your first port of call, including all matters related to COVID-19. You may get the answer you need there without having to wait in a queue.
“It’s also important for people to remember that their local pharmacy is a great source of help for a wide range of conditions and many community pharmacies are open over the weekend. They can also help if you run out of your usual medicines.
“If you do need to call us please do be patient – our staff are working as hard as they can and they need your continued support to deliver the best service they can every time, all the time.”
After NHS 24 saw exceptional numbers of people using both its telephone and digital services over the Christmas weekend, the staff have been praised for their hard work and dedication under high-pressure circumstances.
Over the four day festive weekend, 44 000 calls were made to the 111 service with 25% of all calls related to COVID. NHS 24’s online information service, NHS inform, was also busy with 2 million page views across the four days. COVID content accounted for 1.2 million of those views and around 45,000 people completed the COVID self-help guide.
The COVID information-only helpline also saw heavy demand with over 3,000 calls on Monday and Tuesday – up 60% on last year.
Commenting on the efforts of NHS 24 staff working across Scotland, Dr Laura Ryan said the weekend was challenging and that COVID related staff absences had inevitably affected the time it took for calls to be answered: “We knew our 111 service was going to be busy, even before the Omicron variant, but now we have the added challenge of staff affected by COVID, which means we’ve had less available people to answer calls. Higher demand for the service, with fewer staff, meant some people had to wait longer than we would have liked for us to answer their call.
“It also meant those who could work, had to work even harder to help as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. I’m exceptionally proud of everyone for their efforts over the Festive weekend.”