Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon today praised NHS staff who are working flat out and often above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the smooth running of the health service in the worst weather conditions Scotland has experienced at this time of year since 1965.
The Health Secretary said she recognises the difficulties that some health boards face in delivering a comprehensive programme of services during the current cold snap. The weather has forced some non-essential operations and out-patient clinics to be postponed but patients who have appointments or procedures scheduled are being asked to turn up at hospital as planned, unless contacted by hospital staff.
NHS Tayside, Lothian and Forth Valley are currently experiencing the most disruption due to the inclement weather, with Borders and Fife also facing challenging conditions.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“We have put in place every preparation that we can to help health boards handle the current conditions, but we have to be realistic and accept that the NHS, like the rest of the country, will face difficulties during this time.
“At the moment, Scotland’s NHS is doing a good job of coping with the added pressure this kind of weather brings and that is primarily down to the dedication and commitment of staff.
“I know that one nurse is doing a four hour round trip on foot every day to get to work at Ninewells Hospital, another consultant at Stirling Royal Infirmary gave up her house to allow nurses who live further afield to stay closer to the hospital and an intrepid administrator from NHS Forth Valley is travelling to work on her father’s milkfloat. Others are working extra hours and staying overnight at work to ensure they don’t miss the start of their shifts. All of their efforts are greatly appreciated.
“We all know the weather can be unpredictable so it is important we all do our bit to help keep things running smoothly. That means avoiding non-essential calls to hospital switchboards and making sure patients turn up at hospital for any planned procedures.
“Some of the health boards worst affected by the weather are postponing non-essential operations but unless you are told otherwise, our message is please turn up for any scheduled hospital appointments.
“If anyone due to attend an appointment finds that the weather makes it impossible for them to travel, they should contact their hospital.
“We can all play a role to help keep our hospitals going during the cold weather.”
Dr Harry Burns, the Chief Medical Officer, has also offered timely advice to help vulnerable Scots cope during the severe weather. He urged people to keep their homes warm, have adequate supplies of medication and look out for neighbours in need.
Dr Burns said:
“People need to make sure that they keep warm, particularly elderly people. They should remain active wherever possible. Even if the weather is too bad to venture outside, household tasks like hoovering keep you moving about and that’s better than sitting in front of the televison for hours at a time.
“Watch out for slippery steps paths and pavements – if elderly people fall they are more likely to break a bone. It’s a good idea to have a supply of grit or salt to clear these areas.
“Be a good neighbour – check up on people living nearby. Offer to go shopping for them or make sure they have plenty of food in the house. Check your supplies of medicine. Make sure you have enough prescription medicine to see you through the holiday period. It’s all about prudent preparation for the times that the shops are closed or the weather is too bad to go outside.”