Health and social care: winter overview 2021 to 2022

Outlines the range of actions we are taking to support our health and social sector care throughout the winter period.

Supporting the public through clear and consistent messaging to make sure they access the right care, in the right place, at the right time

COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, a huge impact on people’s lives and our social care services continue to experience unprecedented demand and challenges. We will empower, inform and reassure the public so they can access health and care services in the most appropriate way, helping them to get the best level of care while also alleviating pressures on the health care system.

Key Public Messages

  • Scotland’s NHS and care systems will experience significant levels of demand and pressure during winter.
  • Together we need to do everything we can to access the care we need in the right place at the right time, so we don’t put unnecessary strain on other services.
  • In order to deliver a more efficient and safe service for staff and patients, the way health and social care operates has changed.
  • Some services may be delivered digitally and these provide benefits around speed, convenience, ease and safety. Face-to-face appointments are always available to people who need them.
  • Both General Practice and other primary care services remain open and safe, and have capacity to treat people, including face-to-face appointments for those who need it.
  • Do not to put off going for routine appointments and potentially creating longer-term health problems, and always contact your GP if you have any symptoms that are causing you concern.
  • For a life threating emergency, continue to call 999 or go to your local A&E.
  • If you have still not been vaccinated against coronavirus, it is not too late, and our booster programme is now running alongside the seasonal flu vaccination programme for those who are eligible.

How We Will Deliver This

  • We will deliver a campaign to encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated against seasonal flu, which in turn will reduce the pressure on health services.
  • We will continue to roll out public messaging to encourage COVID-19 vaccine uptake – the single most effective thing people can do to decrease their risk of serious illness from coronavirus.
  • We will deliver a campaign relating to key safer behaviours, such as face coverings and ventilation, and use of Test & Protect.
  • We will work to raise awareness of the ongoing availability of GP services, so that people continue to use their local GP when they need to.
  • We will deliver the annual winter marketing campaign, run by NHS24. Encourage people to take simple steps to prepare for winter and inform the public how and when to make use of resources like NHS Inform and community pharmacists.
  • We will create materials will be distributed to health and care services to discourage violent and aggressive behaviour to staff, and make it clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • We will promote options and services which can be used for less serious conditions as an alternative to general practice, including self-care, and Pharmacy First.
  • We will provide local communications activity by health boards to support urgent care and signpost to local services.



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