Health and social care: winter preparedness plan 2023-2024

This winter plan represents a whole system approach to responding to a surge in demand for health and social care services and sets out the actions to help relieve pressure points across the system. The measures outlined are applicable throughout the year when we may face increased pressures.

Priority Two. Consistent messaging to the public and our staff that supports access to the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

To ensure that people receive the most appropriate care and are empowered to support themselves and those they care for, the Scottish Government is continuing to invest in making high quality healthcare information accessible. A multi-agency communications group provides an expert forum to agree key messages and develop national and local communications plans to ensure the public is well-informed.

How we will jointly deliver this priority:

  • All Boards, Local Authorities, Primary Care Contractors, and Partnerships to redirect and signpost people to the appropriate service for their needs, through national and local communications.
  • Ensure the public are aware of key sources of information that will support them with their care needs, whether that information is delivered in person (for example, through social workers, community pharmacy or their local General Practice), via the telephone (NHS 24 on 111 for physical or mental health concerns) or digitally (, the NHS 24 online app, Care Information Scotland or local council websites).
  • Messaging will focus on what a service is for rather than seeking to direct people away from a particular service.
  • Self-management and self-care using the guides on nhsinform provide the public with an accessible resource to treat many of the common winter illnesses without the need to interact with a health professional. Communications will aim to increase awareness of these resources.
  • Communications activity will be based on insight that has been gathered from evaluation of campaigns from previous years.
  • Continue to build preventative messaging into health and social care communications activity for Winter (eg the vaccination programme, Mind to Mind, Healthy Know How) and throughout the year.
  • Collaboration across national and local messaging by all stakeholders to ensure consistent messaging.
  • Resources will be developed by Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland and NHS 24 that will be available online for any stakeholders to use through their own communications channels such as social media accounts, e-newsletters or in-venue signage to support local activation.
  • Undertake scenario planning to identify the communication actions which can be implemented based on the level of system pressure being faced in order that appropriate messaging can be activated nationally or locally.
  • Raise awareness nationally of the technology hubs that are located throughout Scotland where people accessing and delivering services can go to see technology in a home setting.
  • Raise awareness that assessments for longer-term care needs should be undertaken at home whenever possible to ensure individuals get the correct level of support to maintain independence and reduce unintended harm.



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