Health warning issued as North East A&E departments remain under severe pressure

Emergency departments across the region remain under severe pressure as the public is warned some patients may experience very long waits as frontline teams prioritise serious emergencies, say health chiefs.

Friday, 13th December 2019, 3:46 pm
Updated Friday, 13th December 2019, 5:43 pm

People who do not need emergency care are being urged to think about alternatives to hospital – including using NHS 111 which is available 24/7 for urgent medical advice.

It comes as new figures released show not a single A&E department in the country hit the four-hour target for seeing patients.

According to data from NHS England, just 81.4% of A&E patients were seen within four hours in November - the worst figure on record and set against a target of 95%.

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A&E departments in the North East facing severe pressures. Picture by Peter Byrne/PA Wire

There were 88,923 patients waiting more than four hours from a decision to admit to hospital admission, 64% higher than the same month last year when it was 54,373.

Of these, 1,112 patients waited more than 12 hours compared with 258 in November 2018, a 331% increase.

Now people in the North East who attend an emergency department with any minor illnesses should be prepared for long waits as NHS staff will focus on treating those with the most urgent medical needs first.

The ambulance service is also very busy with long waits for non-life threatening calls and people are being urged to only contact 999 for emergencies.

People with vomiting and diarrhoea are being asked to stay away from hospitals and GP surgeries until they are at least 48 hours symptom-free so they don’t pass on their bugs and put staff and patients at risk.

Health chiefs are urging people to take sensible steps to protect themselves and their loved ones by washing their hands regularly with soap and water.

A high numbers of people suffering from flu and health chiefs are urging those at risk to take up their offer of a free vaccination as a matter of urgency.

Professor Chris Gray, medical director professional standards and system improvement at NHS England and Improvement in the North and Yorkshire, said: “It’s important to remember that your local emergency department should be reserved for people in immediate need of critical or lifesaving care.

“There are a range of high-quality alternatives to choose from. If you are unsure which is right for you, you can contact NHS 111 online or by telephone.

“The NHS will always be here for you when you need us but we need your help to relieve the pressure on our doctors and nurses who are busy treating those who need it the most.”