Scotland’s national health helpline NHS 24 handled more than 78,000 calls from people over the Christmas and New Year break, an increase of around 1,100 from the same time last year.
The helpline said its staff at NHS24 centres around Scotland took 74,160 calls from the public and 3,858 calls were also handled by the Scottish Flu Response Centre (SFReC).
The busiest day of the festive season was Monday January 4 when 13,347 calls were received by NHS24 including calls to the flu response centre.
John Turner, NHS 24 chief executive, said NHS 24 worked in partnership with other NHS services cover the Christmas and New Year period to make sure patients’ needs were met and at the peak of demand were receiving 50 calls a minute.
He added: “The NHS 24 service has coped extremely well with the demand and we would like to thank all of the dedicated staff, both at NHS 24 and in our partner health services, for their tremendous efforts to meet the needs of patients.”
Over the four day Christmas weekend the health helpline took more than 38,500 calls compared to 37,590 last year and a further 39,500 calls were handled over the four day new year weekend including 1,430 calls to the SFReC. Call demand over the four day holiday break last year was 39,331.
NHS 24 said many of its staff had also braved extreme weather conditions with some journeys taking many hours to get to work.
Turner said the winter was “not over by any means” and issued advice to patients about self care for minor ailments and using the information about winter health on the NHS 24 website www.nhs24.com/winterhealth .
NHS Direct, the equivalent health helpline service in England, announced last week that it had experienced its busiest Christmas ever with more than 850,000 people accessing its telephone and online services.