Accessing the right care in the right place
The winter months can be dark and gloomy, and some of us may experience loneliness and even depression. If you, a family member, a close friend, or a neighbour are feeling distressed or hopeless, please reach out for help. You can visit nhsinform.scot/mind-to-mind for assistance. You can also call Breathing Space at 0800 83 85 87 or the Samaritans on 116 123. For urgent mental healthcare, please call NHS 24 on 111.
If you're unsure about your symptoms, use the online symptom checker tool at nhsinform.scot, which works like our 111 call handlers process. This tool will help you determine the appropriate care you need and where to get it. You can also find a range of self-help guides for common conditions.
For common health issues like colds, sore throats, cold sores, diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion, UTIs, and body aches and pains, your first stop should be your local pharmacy. They can also assist you if you run out of your repeat prescription.
Contact your dental practice if you experience tooth pain, mouth swelling, bleeding or painful gums, or mouth injury. Your dental practice can also provide guidance on oral hygiene.
Most eye conditions can be managed by your local optician, including red or sticky eyes, pain in or around the eye, blurred or reduced vision, and flashes and floaters.
A free emergency contraception and advice service may be available at your local Pharmacy. Sexual Health Fife can also assist you in finding more information on their services.
You can call NHS 24 on 111, day or night, for advice to help you stay well. If your injury or illness is urgent, our call handlers will arrange for you to be seen at the appropriate service.
Your GP Practice
Your GP Practice has a range of clinicians to help with both mental and physical health conditions.
Minor Injuries Service
You may be directed to your local Minor Injuries Unit for painful but not life-threatening injuries such as cuts, minor burns, sprains, strains, and suspected broken bones or fractures.
Accident and Emergency (A&E)
Calling 999 or visiting your local A&E is for emergencies only, such as severe injury, a suspected heart attack or stroke, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding.
Who's most at risk from cold weather?
Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. This includes:
- people aged 65 and older
- babies and children under the age of 5
- people on a low income (so cannot afford heating)
- people who have a long-term health condition
- people with a disability
- pregnant women
- people who have a mental health condition
If you're 65 or over, or in one of the other at-risk groups, it's important to get medical help as soon as you feel unwell.
The sooner you get advice, the sooner you're likely to get better.
Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations
It's important to get your seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccinations if you're at higher risk of getting seriously ill from these illnesses. Find out if you are eligible for vaccination against Flu and COVID-19 on our vaccination pages.
Keeping well over winter
Staying warm during winter is important in preventing colds, flu, and serious health problems like heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, and depression. It's important to heat your home to a comfortable temperature of at least 18°C in the rooms you frequently use, such as your living room and bedroom, especially if you have any health condition. Also, remember to keep your bedroom windows closed at night.
If you want advice and tips for staying positive and healthy during the winter months, you can check out the NHS inform’s 5 Steps guide. It provides valuable guidance on the importance of building and maintaining relationships, staying fit and healthy, and supporting others, which can benefit both our mental wellbeing.
For a list of helpful telephone numbers and contact information for support services in Fife, please see the Fife Council Staying Safe and Keeping Well booklet.
Know your first aid
Every year in the UK, thousands of people die or are seriously injured in incidents. Many deaths could be prevented if first aid is given before emergency services arrive.
If someone is injured, you should:
- first check that you and the casualty aren't in any danger, and, if possible, make the situation safe
- if necessary, dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance
- when it's safe to do so carry out basic first aid
See more about basic first aid at NHS Inform