A&E pressure leads to plea from NHS in Northumberland

Wansbeck General Hospital.
Wansbeck General Hospital.

Northumberland’s NHS has experienced significant pressures in hospital A&E departments over the Christmas weekend, causing long waiting times and some cancelled operations.

High numbers of poorly older people with respiratory illnesses are seeing increased admissions into hospital. A&E departments are reporting long waiting times.

Icy conditions will likely lead to slips and trips therefore broken bones meaning additional A&E attendances.

The NHS is calling on the public to help by only attending A&E or using the 999 service for serious health emergencies, which include: A major accident; broken bones; breathing problems; severe chest pains; unconsciousness; suspected stroke; severe blood loss.

Remember your GP practice is open every day apart from New Year’s Day. They are also open on Friday, January 2, with some open on Saturday, January 3. Check your GP practice website for details.

If you need medical advice, call NHS 111. They can advise on alternative local NHS services available. If NHS 111 gives you advice, then please follow it – by doing this you are helping the NHS make the best use of resources.

If you are normally healthy and have a winter illness such as a cough or a cold, then visit your pharmacist for advice and stock up on over-the-counter medication. For a guide to self-care, go to www.keepcalmthiswinter.org

Dr Alistair Blair, Morpeth GP and chief clinical officer for Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, speaking on behalf of the region’s NHS services, said: “Our hospitals and A&E departments are under severe pressures and we need to make sure that only the people who need emergency medical help attend.

“The public can help us make sure that NHS services are available for those people most in need by thinking about what other local NHS services might be better placed to help them that mean that 999 and A&E stay free for those more in need of emergency care.

“Remember your GP practice is open this week, there are walk-in services open and NHS 111 can give quick advice.

“Most normally healthy people with a winter illness do not need to see their GP, do not need to attend A&E and absolutely do not need to call 999. Colds, sore throats, head-aches, hangovers, upset stomachs, coughs, aches, pains, and winter vomiting should all be treated at home or with the advice of your local pharmacist, with pain killers, rest and plenty of fluids.

“By doing this, not only are you helping to reduce the spread of winter viruses to other vulnerable patients in NHS waiting rooms – you are also keeping appointments available for people who have serious health conditions that must see a doctor or nurse, or have severe or life-threatening conditions that need emergency care immediately.”