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NHS Fife is encouraging people to look after their own health this winter.

It is part of a nationwide campaign to help remove some of the pressure on hospitals over the festive period by urging people to follow some simple steps to avoid illness.

'Be Healthwise' is fronted by Dr Owl and features tips advising people to stay on top of their repeat prescriptions over the holidays and know their GP surgery opening hours, which  can help deal with the most common winter ailments.  Being prepared for common winter illnesses, or knowing where to get help if ill health does strike, means that hospital staff can help those most in need at one of the busiest times of the year.

NHS Fife Medical Director, Dr Frances Elliot, said: “Winter can be a busy period and whilst we are prepared for increased pressure, people across Fife can play an important role in ensuring we keep our emergency departments free for those who need them most.

“Making sure you are on top of your prescriptions and even making sure you have access to over the counter remedies such as aspirin or paracetamol can make a real difference if illness strikes. Not only does it mean people are being proactive in supporting their own health needs but it also allows our dedicated NHS staff to focus on those who may require additional care.

"We would also remind people of the wide range of health information available at NHS Inform which also now includes a self-help guide to enable people to understand their symptoms and make a choice about how they deal with it. Using these services, rather than turning up at A&E, will keep our emergency departments free for those who really need them.”

The campaign was launched today by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison MSP, who was joined by health and medical staff at the New Victoria Hospital in Glasgow. The Cabinet Secretary said:

“We know winter months can put additional pressures on our hospitals and GPs’ surgeries, which is why we have been working to provide additional support to health boards over winter to ensure people get the care they need.

“But we can also all do our own bit to look after our own and our family’s health, and help preserve our frontline services for those most in need. The Be Healthwise campaign helps to remind people about the excellent range of services available. For example, people who run out of medicines or dressings can speak to a pharmacist about an urgent supply, rather than going to their A&E or GP out-of-hours service.

“In addition, those who can protect themselves early should do so. Every year in Scotland, thousands of adults and children are hospitalised for treatment of flu and its complications. The flu vaccination provides the best defence against flu, so I would encourage everyone who is eligible to take up the offer of the free flu vaccine.”