NHS preparing for winter

Minister views resilience arrangements at NHS distribution centre

NHS boards across Scotland are finalising plans to ensure resilience over winter this year - and prepare for the extra pressures that the season can bring.

Today, during national ‘Resilience Week’, Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell visited the NHS National Distribution Centre to hear how the central logistics team for the NHS manages the delivery of essential supplies over winter.

Each year NHS National Services Scotland Logistics (NSS Logistics) delivers 47 million domestic and medical items to hospital wards, departments and community health centres across Scotland.

During peak winter periods the volume of deliveries can increase by 20% per week, with severe weather also impacting on the service.

All frontline health boards are required to have their final winter plans in place by November and the Scottish Government published guidance for the NHS on how to prepare in August. These plans must also take in to account the impact of severe weather on services.

The Public Health Minister said that the NHS was preparing to be on the ‘front foot’ this winter and encouraged members of the public and local communities to do the same.

She said: “We are working hard to ensure the NHS is as prepared as it can be for the extra demands on our services over the winter. Our winter guidance for health boards published in the summer and we have invested £9 million in emergency and unscheduled care this year, as well as £30 million in reducing delayed discharge - which will support boards to manage winter pressures.

“Winter weather can also pose additional challenges for the NHS and social care and, as we have seen today, detailed preparations are in place to ensure our services remain resilient – even in the most severe conditions.

“While it is important that our health service is resilient, it is also incumbent upon all of us to ensure we are doing what we can to prepare ourselves for winter. Whether that is getting your flu jab if you are eligible, ensuring you are have sufficient stocks of medicines at home or knowing which local health services to turn to if you fall ill – we can all play our part in being resilient over winter.”

Jim Miller, Director NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) said: "During peak winter periods, there can be a 20% increase in the volume of goods required to treat patients.

“Through collaboration with health boards, careful forward planning, strategic investment and, not least, the hard work and commitment of our staff, NSS Logistics maintains the highest levels of resilience to ensure vital supplies reach hospital wards, departments and community health centres throughout Scotland."


Resilience Week runs from 7-11 November 2016. The campaign aims to create and share information about anything and everything that helps make individuals, families, communities or businesses better prepared for the events which create a significant disruption to daily lives. This includes:

  • What to do in the event of severe weather.
  • How to ensure your health is resilient.
  • Businesses thinking about how to deal with events that impact on smooth operations.
  • Reducing the potential risk from cyber crime.
  • What are the simple steps we can take to prepare.
  • The information sources which can used to highlight there is a potential risk.
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