Smarty the penguin launches NHS Tayside’s winter campaign

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NHS Tayside has launched a new campaign to help patients, local communities and staff prepare for winter.

Winter is always a very busy time for health services and, over the past few months, Tayside’s doctors, nurses and other clinical staff have been working hard to make sure that health and social care services are ready for the winter months.

As part of the winter campaign, a new Winter Zone page has been launched on Staffnet to give staff information over the winter months.

The Winter Zone page will continue to be updated over the coming weeks and will feature links to everything staff need to know this winter. This will include information on plans to maintain services during the busy winter period, out-of-hours contact details, festive opening hours for primary care services and local and national winter campaigns.

You can find the Winter Zone in the Hot Links section on the front page of Staffnet.

We have also launched a new ‘Keep Well in Winter’ public campaign fronted by Tayside’s only winter health and wellbeing guru, Smarty the Penguin.

MAIN Smarty the penguin launches NHS Tayside_s winter campaign (2)Smarty the Penguin has been created as a fun and engaging way of sharing advice with the public about how to look after their own and their family’s health and wellbeing over the winter months.  A special thanks goes to 11-year-old Ruaridh Duncan from Dundee who chose Smarty’s name.

Ruaridh said, “I decided to call him Smarty because he’s smart, he knows best and everyone should listen to his advice.”

Smarty appears in various images as a health ‘spokespenguin’ giving advice on topics including getting the flu jab, looking after yourself at home and warning about wintry weather.  Smarty will also be sharing information on where to access the right treatment at the right time over the festive period and the winter months.

The ‘Keep Well in Winter’ campaign has a dedicated website, which is packed with information to help people keep themselves well this winter.

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Consultant in public health Dr Daniel Chandler and Dr Elaine Henry launched the Keep Well In Winter campaign

Consultant gastroenterologist Dr Elaine Henry, who is clinical lead for winter planning, said, “We know that winter has its own challenges, particularly for our frail, elderly populations and patients with chronic conditions, and we have tried to work differently this year to best prepare.

“Winter is a time when people’s health and wellbeing can be affected by seasonal illnesses such as flu, norovirus, and nasty coughs and colds. These and other illnesses and viruses can especially affect the frail and elderly over winter, who can often need hospital care. More people fall and injure themselves during spells of wintry and icy weather and GP practices close over the holidays. All of these things come together to make winter a very busy time of year for us.

“Our plans have been developed by doctors, nurses, clinical teams and managers alongside our partners, to make sure we can provide the best service to our communities and manage the increased demand we experience over the winter period in our hospitals.

“Our ‘Keep Well in Winter’ website is a one stop shop where people can go for information about how to look after common winter illnesses at home, where to access the best care for your health issue, GP and pharmacy opening times over the festive holidays and tips on staying safe during the party season.

“Our new friend Smarty also has some great advice about how to walk like a penguin to avoid falling on icy surfaces!”

Smarty will also be sharing winter messages on NHS Tayside’s social media sites.

NHS Tayside received £738,000 in winter funding from the Scottish Government to help deliver its winter plan, which was developed in partnership with Angus, Dundee and Perth & Kinross Health and Social Care Partnerships and the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).

Some of the key things that we are focusing on this winter include:

  • Care at home or close to home – an ‘assess to admit’ model with improved support available in communities
  • A new 12 bed acute medicine for the elderly assessment unit at Ninewells to improve the care pathway for older people
  • Additional beds in Ninewells and Perth Royal Infirmary
  • Extra out-of-hours GP sessions and advice calls to reduce pressure on our emergency departments at Ninewells and Perth Royal Infirmary
  • Increased mental health support
  • Improved planning and communication between services to allow people to go home as soon as they are ready
  • Raising awareness of the range of services provided locally by community pharmacies


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