Hospital chiefs in South Tyneside are calling on patients to choose the appropriate service as sustained pressure falls on emergency care due to plummeting temperatures this winter.
South Tyneside NHS FoundatioN Trust is appealing for people’s support to help them deal with sustained pressure on emergency care as temperatures drop this winter.
The trust experiences higher numbers of very ill patients in their emergency departments and bosses are urging people to choose the right service for their needs and only come to hospital if they have a serious of life-threatening illness or injury.
With flu circulating in the community, the trust is also urging those in at risk groups who are eligible for the free flu vaccine on the NHS to have the vaccination.
In addition, people with flu, or other infectious illnesses such as Norovirus, are being asked to stay at home and not visit family or friends in hospital to prevent the spread of infection to vulnerable patients.
Dr Sean Fenwick, director of South Tyneside NHS Foundation and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation trusts, said: “Winter is always a very testing time for the NHS and we really appreciate the support of people in our local communities in helping our emergency teams to treat patients with urgent and life-threatening illness and injury as quickly as possible.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing large numbers of people attending our emergency department at South Tyneside District Hospital who should be using other services as they do not require urgent treatment.
“This can lead to longer waiting times and delays in treating those in most need.”
Bosses say that self-care and visiting a pharmacist are options in the first instance for ailments which are common at this time of year, such as coughs and colds, upset stomachs and general aches and pains.
GPs are providing more convenient appointment times for patients outside the standard working day by offering extended opening hours in the evenings and at weekends.
If in doubt, the free NHS 111 number is available 24/7 for expert medical advice.
For details of opening times for local GPs and pharmacists, go to http://urgentoremergency.co.uk/