Health chiefs in South Tyneside are urging people to stay away from the borough’s accident and emergency unit unless its vital.
Staff at South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields say they are relying on people to ease pressure this winter by choosing the right level of care.
In a bid to ease numbers, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive Steve Williamson wants people to ‘Think Pharmacy First’.
The campaign is aimed at encouraging people to get advice and medicines to treat common or less serious illnesses, such as coughs, colds, upset stomachs and skin problems, by going to a pharmacy.
Mr Williamson said: “During the winter months, demand for NHS services traditionally increases and each year we put plans in place to deal with this. Last winter, however, hospitals throughout the country, including South Tyneside District Hospital, experienced unprecedented, sustained, heavy demand on emergency services over a number of months.
“A&E departments are for patients whose condition is critical or life-threatening.”
The campaign has been developed by NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group.