It's never too soon to get ready for winter. Here are some tips to help you be prepared and avoid placing extra demands on hospital and emergency services:
General advice and information on how to stay healthy this winter can be found at www.nhsinform.co.uk/winter or contact NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88.
Support is also available for people with mental health or psychological problems by phoning NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24, Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 8587 (6.00pm to 2.00am).
It's important to get the right treatment, in the right place, in the shortest possible time. In many cases this will be your local GP practice, pharmacy or Minor Injuries Unit.
Doctors surgeries will be closed for two days onTuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 December 2012. They will close again on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd January 2013. If you need to see a GP out-of-hours or when practices are closed, contact NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24.
Pharmacies across Forth Valley operate a rota-system over the festive period to ensure you can access over the counter medicines, prescriptions and speak to a pharmacist for health advice.
Although based at Stirling Community Hospital, the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) offers treatment to patients across Forth Valley. It is open every day throughout the festive period from 9am - 9pm and no appointment is necessary. The MIU is able to treat adults and children over the age of one for a wide range of minor injuries including suspected broken bones, sprains and strains, cuts and scratches, minor burns and infected wounds.
Please don't attend the Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital with minor, non urgent health problems as this could divert staff time and resources from seriously ill patients who need them most. However, children with minor injuries under the age of one should be taken to the Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
If you or someone you care about is in one of the 'at risk' groups for flu then contact your GP for a free flu jab. GPs are offering free flu vaccines to everyone currently aged 65 and over.
Vaccines are also free for anyone who has a chronic illness such as heart disease and asthma, chronic renal and liver disease and those with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
Pregnant women and unpaid carers are also eligible for vaccination.