NHS Tayside prepares for winter challenges

Nice adult man sneezing

NHS Tayside has launched its 2019/2020 winter plan to help patients, local communities and staff prepare for the season ahead.

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

SIDE NHS Tayside prepares for winter challenges - Elaine Henry
Dr Elaine Henry

Consultant gastroenterologist Dr Elaine Henry, who is clinical lead for winter planning, said, “We know that winter has its challenges, particularly for our frail, elderly populations and patients with chronic conditions.

“We want 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.”

NHS Tayside’s winter plan was developed in partnership with Angus, Dundee and Perth & Kinross Health and Social Care Partnerships and the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) and focuses on the whole system of healthcare across Tayside. It aims to prevent as much illness as possible, and ensure that services are prepared to manage any issues which arise during winter.

Some of the key area of focus this winter include:

  • Care at home or close to home – an ‘assess to admit’ model with improved support available in communities to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions
  • Additional beds in Ninewells and Perth Royal Infirmary to help manage capacity
  • A new frailty unit at Perth Royal Infirmary – this follows the success of the new dedicated assessment unit for the elderly (AME) at Ninewells which looked after more than 400 of our most frail patients last winter and focused on early assessment and planned discharge
  • Extra out-of-hours GP sessions and advice calls to help patients manage minor illnesses at home and reduce pressure on our emergency departments at Ninewells and Perth Royal Infirmary
  • Effective planning of elective procedures to help manage increased demand for emergency care
  • More clinical and social care staff available at weekends and on public holidays to allow people to go home as soon as they are ready
  • Increase staff flu vaccination to prevent the spread of flu in our hospitals, healthcare facilities and local communities and to maintain staffing levels during busy periods
  • Raising awareness of the range of services provided locally by community pharmacies and promotion of our Keep Well In Winter and Know Where To Go For Healthcare campaigns

Elaine added, “The success of last year’s winter plan directly led to improvements for patients over the challenging period. By investing in additional services and beds, improving access to the right care in the right place, and changing the ways in which patients are assessed, admitted and discharged, we were able to maintain services and respond to any challenges quickly.

“One of our great success stories last winter was the large reduction in the number of patients waiting for beds, which was achieved due to the huge amount of planning which happened over 2018 and we have taken all the lessons we learned last winter to improve our plans for this year.”

Last week NHS Tayside also launched it’s public campaign ‘Keep Well in Winter’ which will see Smarty the Penguin sharing advice about how to look after your own and your family’s health and wellbeing this winter.

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.

Find out more at http://www.keepwellinwinter.scot.nhs.uk

SIDE NHS Tayside prepares for winter challenges - Smarty

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