People across the North East are being asked to help ease the pressure on NHS accident and emergency services over the Easter holiday weekend.
To help ease the pressure at a very busy time of year for A&E departments, the NHS is asking people with non-emergency health issues to call 111 to make a GP appointment or to visit a local pharmacy.
In most cases, this will mean they receive the most appropriate advice and care much quicker.
Although some GP practices and pharmacies are closed over Easter, the NHS has been working to ensure people will be able to access a GP appointment or pharmacist should they need one.
Chris Gray, medical director for NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said: “If people have a non-emergency health problem over the Easter weekend, they should please call 111 to make an appointment with a GP.
“By doing this, they will receive the most appropriate care and advice and, in most cases, will be seen quicker than if they go to an A&E department. Pharmacists can also provide instant, confidential advice and treatment for minor illnesses, without the need to make an appointment.
“This is a plea for people to use our NHS services responsibly to make sure that NHS staff, who work incredibly hard around the clock, can provide appropriate care to patients.
“Our A&E departments can get extremely busy over bank holidays and we want to ensure that patients who really need emergency care receive the quickest possible treatment they need.”
Meanwhile, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been named the best trust in the country for improving patients’ experiences of care, winning the overall best trust award at the Patient Experience Network National Awards.
The trust also won an award and was runner-up in another category for a maternity initiative, and was runner-up in a further two award categories for enhancing staff’s psychological health and setting up a training programme for those who work with older people.