NHS appeal not to overload emergency services in South Tyneside through festive period

South Tyneside residents are being urged not to overload the emergency services through Christmas and New Year.

NHS bosses are asking the public to make sure critically ill or injured patients get the help they need by choosing the right service.

And that means deciding whether an emergency call is the best choice or the problem could be dealt with by a pharmacist or GP.

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Dr Neil O'Brien is executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board. He urged people to think twice before calling 999 or going to casualty: "We'd like to thank people for their support and the way they have used services during this exceptionally busy period,” he said.

‘Services are still extremely busy’

"This has helped us prioritise patient care for those who are most poorly."Our services are still extremely busy, so please only use 999 and accident and emergency departments for life threatening injuries and illnesses. We're working hard to ensure that patients who need emergency care are seen as quickly as possible.

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And he warned patients with non-urgent complaints could face lengthy delays at A+E: "We know no-one wants to stay longer in hospital than they need to so it is our aim to discharge people as soon as they are well enough,” said Dr O’Brien."All our services will respond as best we can in providing treatment and have processes in place to ensure patients are cared for, with patient safety as our top priority. Patients who attend accident and emergency departments with non-emergency conditions are likely to face a long wait for treatment.

Residents across the North East are being urged not to make unnecessary emergency calls

How to find help

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"Given the additional pressures we know some people have had to wait longer than we would like for care and a few people have had planned procedures postponed. I would ask all our public and communities to please continue to lend your support and kindness to our teams working extra hard during these difficult times."For advice for an everyday illness or injury, contact your local pharmacy for help or look at the advice on available online from the NHS at www.nhs.uk.You can also check your symptoms online at www.111.nhs.uk, which will re-direct you if you need to be seen by someone. If symptoms persist, please contact your GP practice for advice.