Increased out-of-hours GP services and a new assessment unit for the elderly at Ninewells Hospital have been unveiled by NHS Tayside as part of its winter plan.
A new 12-bed acute medicine for the elderly assessment unit is also to be introduced in a bid to cope with the demands on the NHS over the coming months.
Additional beds in Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary will be made available and the health board is promising improved planning and communication between services to allow people to go home as soon as they are ready.
A spokeswoman said the health board has received £738,000 in winter funding from the Scottish Government to help deliver its winter plan, which was developed in partnership with Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross health and social care partnerships and the Scottish Ambulance Service.
She said: “Winter is always a very busy time for health services and, over the past few months, Tayside’s doctors, nurses and other clinical staff have been working hard to make sure that health and social care services are ready for the winter months.
“Other key things we are focusing on this winter include care at home or close to home – increased mental health support and raised awareness of the range of services provided locally by community pharmacies.”
NHS Tayside has also launched a new Keep Well in Winter public campaign – fronted by Smarty the Penguin – with a website for people to go for health advice and information on where to access health care.
Consultant gastroenterologist Dr Elaine Henry, who is clinical lead for winter planning, added: “We know that winter has its own challenges, particularly for our frail, elderly populations and patients with chronic conditions, and we have tried to work differently this year to best prepare.
“Our plans have been developed by doctors, nurses, clinical teams and managers alongside our partners, to make sure we can provide the best service to our communities and manage the increased demand we experience over the winter period in our hospitals.”