Working with the Angus, Dundee and Perth & Kinross Health and Social Care Partnerships and the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS Tayside is developing a strategy for this winter.
This is to help keep services running and help staff, patients and local communities prepare for the challenges of the season ahead.
Emergency Medicine Consultant, and Clinical Service Director for Winter, Dr Andrew Reddick said, “Winter planning this year is more complex as we also have to continue to respond to the unprecedented demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to make best use of our resources by managing and planning for a big surge in demand for health and social care services in the coming weeks and the next four months.
“In Tayside, we use data from across our health services to build a ‘heat map’ which helps predict periods when we expect our services to be very busy. This heat map gives services a warning of predicted increases in activity and enables them to put their plans in place to respond to challenges and keep services running.
“The winter plan aims to prevent illness and admissions to hospital by supporting the more vulnerable members of our communities to be cared for at home and in the community as much as possible.
“Teams will also continue to use rapid testing for COVID-19, flu and other winter viruses to minimize the risk of spreading viruses and to ensure patients who have to come to hospital are looked after in the most appropriate setting for their care.
“Central to our plans is a flu and COVID-19 vaccination programme for patients and health and social care staff to prevent the spread of infection in our hospitals, healthcare facilities and local communities. This will also help us to maintain staffing levels during busy periods.
“People can do their bit to help us. We’re urging everyone to make sure they can look after themselves at home with the usual winter illnesses such as colds and diarrhoea and vomiting. Make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked with over-the-counter medicines. Your local community pharmacy can also help with a range of minor illnesses, such as a cold, an upset stomach or general aches and pains.”
Over this month NHS Tayside will be releasing information on GP closures, pharmacy opening times, where to get the right care at the right place during the winter.
Chief Executive Grant Archibald said, “All of our teams have prepared meticulously for winter; from the development of the heat map to the escalation and mobilisation of additional beds if they are required, to the flow of patients in and out of our hospitals.
“Our workforce’s unwavering dedication ensures we can keep all of our emergency and urgent care services running alongside COVID-19 pressures for the communities of Tayside.
“We are also asking for the public to play their part in supporting their local NHS over the winter by knowing all of the places they can go for care and treatment and sticking to the latest COVID-19 guidance.”