Media release: NHS campaign encourages Scots not to be caught out this winter

A MAJOR NHSScotland campaign to encourage people to prepare for the winter period was launched today (Monday, 22nd November) as it was revealed only one in ten Scots have a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

Says a spokesperson: “Research carried out on behalf of the Be Ready for Winter campaign has revealed that many people are not as well prepared as they could be to look after themselves or their families if they have coughs or colds this winter.

“Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon, today joined forces with NHSScotland to highlight the simple steps that people, particularly parents, carers and the elderly, can take to keep themselves and their families well during the cold months.

“Launching the national campaign in Glasgow, the Health Secretary was joined by Eunice Muir, executive nurse director with NHS 24, as they visited a mother and toddler group at Bellcraig Community Centre in Maryhill.

“Independent research shows that only 13 per cent of Scots have the most common remedies – including items such as paracetamol, cough mixture, throat lozenges, and cold and flu treatments – in their medicine cabinet.”

Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Planning ahead can help ensure that coughs, colds and minor ailments don’t become a big problem this winter. That’s particularly important over Christmas and New Year when access to GPs and pharmacists will be limited.

“As well as making sure you have sufficient supplies of regular medication you should make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked with things like painkillers, cough bottle and antiseptic.

“Nobody can promise that Christmas will be stress-free, but a little preparation can really pay off to make sure that minor health problems don’t become a major headache for you and your family.”

The spokesperson added: “The research into winter remedies showed that more than a third (37 per cent) of people have just one or two of the usual items, with paracetamol being the most common remedy stocked at home. The survey also revealed that elderly people are least likely to be well stocked with home remedies for winter health.”

Commenting on the findings, Eunice Muir from NHS 24 said: “This is the ideal time of year for everyone, particularly elderly people, to take a few simple steps to make sure they are prepared for any coughs, colds or common winter ailments that may strike this winter.

“You can also visit your local pharmacist for advice on re-stocking your medicine cabinet and if you need to visit your GP, try to schedule an appointment before the festive period. You can also access out of hours GP services through NHS 24.”

The four key steps that Be Ready for Winter is recommending everyone should take in preparation for the winter are:

Restock your winter medicine cabinet

Many children and adults pick up common winter ailments such as a cold or flu-like illness. These can often be effectively treated at home with readily available medicine. Parents are reminded to restock their medicine cabinet with remedies suitable for children.

Use your local pharmacy

Your local pharmacy is an accessible resource for you and your family. Your pharmacist can offer advice or help if you have run out of any prescribed medication. You can also collect medicine for minor ailments or illnesses.

Make sure you have repeat prescriptions.

If you or someone you care for requires medicines regularly, make sure you order and collect repeat prescriptions in good time to ensure you or your family have enough medicine to last over the Christmas holiday period.

Know when your GP surgery will be open

Your local doctor’s surgery will be open on Friday 24th December, then closed for four days during the Christmas period and it will reopen on Wednesday 29th. The surgery will be shut from 1st-4th January at New Year, and reopen on Wednesday 5th January.

Many GPs will be working hard throughout the festive period supporting local Out of Hours services and the campaign also has the backing of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland.

Dr Dean Marshall, chair of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said: “Winter is the time of year when a lot of people will get a cold or flu and the best way to manage these ailments is to ensure that you have a stock of the remedies that are available in pharmacies and supermarkets. For those who are eligible, it’s important to get the annual flu vaccination from your GP surgery.

“While it’s important to be prepared, patients should be reassured that over the holiday season, even if their GP surgery is closed, they will be able to see a GP if they need to. Anyone experiencing health problems during the holidays should contact NHS 24 for advice.”

The national Be Ready for Winter campaign is supported by NHSScotland in partnership with NHS 24, the Scottish Ambulance Service, all 14 Scottish Health Boards, Community Pharmacy Scotland.

The campaign also includes television, radio, print and outdoor media across Scotland. Leaflets offering information about health services and how to treat common winter ailments are being distributed across the country during November and December.

General advice and information on how to stay healthy this winter can be found at or contact NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88.


Issued on behalf of NHSScotland by The BIG Partnership. For more information, contact:

Kim Munro on 0141 333 9585 / 07966 224910 or email

Josie Saunders on 0141 333 9585 / 07881 816283 or email

Notes for editors

TNS carried out 998 interviews between the period 27th October to 4th November 2010. The sample of adults, who were interviewed at home in 71 constituencies throughout Scotland, were asked which of the six most common remedies – paracetamol, cough mixture, vitamin C, throat lozenges, cold and flu treatments and tissues – they currently had in their medicine cabinet.

The research also showed respondents were less likely to have cold and flu remedies capsules (35 per cent) in their medicine cabinet. Just six per cent of people aged 65 or over had all six of the common remedies.

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Contact: Nicola Macnaughton