Improving health and social care service resilience over public holidays: report

Report from a review of the resilience of health and social care services over public holidays and in particular, the Christmas and Easter festive periods.

5 Promoting Best Use of Health and Social Care Services

5.1 Background

The nature and availability of all OOH services may be poorly understood often resulting in people finding it difficult to know where to go with or seek assistance for urgent care requirements. This may be amplified over public holiday periods and by winter demands.

This is particularly important for people with specific needs. The Primary Care OOH Review examined and made recommendations on palliative care, mental health needs, frail and older people, the care of children, those with special access requirements and health inequality issues. These still hold good and are amplified here.

5.2 Available Resources

NHS 24 already delivers the national winter health campaign ‘Be Healthwise’ on behalf of NHS Scotland. This is a multi-channel campaign including national TV and radio advertising focused on supporting the public over the festive period in particular. Core messages include:

  • Checking GP surgery opening times over festive periods and reminding people to make sure they have adequate supplies of repeat medication
  • Information on opening hours, contact methods, and location of all services available to all Primary and Social Care Partners and all Acute Hospital Sites and Minor Injuries Units.
  • Promotion of self-help guides on NHS Inform [30] as the reliable and trusted source of health, care and wellbeing resources in Scotland.
  • Seeking support from A such as community pharmacies.

This service should be enhanced with NHS 24 and Boards supporting visibility of the national winter health campaign. NHS 24 ensures the most critical messages and up to date resources are included to support the whole health and social care system.

Particular emphasis should be placed on use of the National Services Directory [31] as an on-line resource for the public and for all health and social care professionals to find out what services are available locally.

Each Board area will need to determine how best to engage its local population including use of the Know Who to Turn To resource. [32]

The national winter health campaign should be enhanced to ensure the most critical messages and up to date resources are included to support the whole health and social care system. NHS 24 and local Board should support visibility of the national winter health campaign, delivered by NHS 24 on behalf of NHS Scotland.

Recommendation 5 covers how we can better manage communications with members of the public, promoting self-help and raising awareness of services that are available over a holiday period to minimise unnecessary access to urgent care (see Section 7 and Appendix 2).


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