A local MSP is calling on her constituents to help ease the pressure on the NHS this winter.

Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP Elena Whitham is asking residents to help by out seeking “the right care in the right place”.

The SNP politician is reminding people across Ayrshire about the different health services available to them, including NHS Inform self-help guides, local pharmacies, NHS 24, GPs and A&E.

The call comes as the NHS powers through the busy winter season by working to the Scottish Government’s winter preparedness plan, which was published earlier this year.

Ms Whitman said: “We know the winter and festive season puts extra pressure on our NHS. Sickness and accidents often mean our A&E departments see a sharp uptake in patients.

“I am pleased that the Scottish Government recognises these pressures and published its Winter Preparedness Plan earlier this year. This plan takes a whole system approach to responding to a surge in demand for health and social care services and sets out steps that can be taken to relieve pressure.

“While the Government and NHS work to the plan, it is important to remember that we can all play our part in helping the NHS this winter.

"By seeking the right care in the right place, we can ensure that A&E departments are not pushed to breaking point."

Ms Whitman is urging local residents to take time to familiarise themselves with the different services and contacts available to them this winter.

She added: “As always, if you find yourself needing emergency medical treatment call 999 or go to A&E straight away. If it is not an emergency, you may wish to read self-help guides on the NHS Inform website which will give you an idea of what you can do to alleviate your symptoms.

“You can also speak to your local pharmacist who is trained to give advice and can prescribe some medications without needing to see your GP. They will direct you to your GP if need be.

“NHS 24 is also available by calling 111 and will be able to help you with non-emergencies. If we all play our part, we can ensure that the NHS works effectively this winter.”