Appeal not to overstretch services as NHS is at 'extreme levels' in North East

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Patients across Hartlepool are being urged not to overstretch health services amid reports of ‘extreme levels’ of demand.

Anyone who is ill is being asked not to call 999 or visit A&E unless their condition is ‘a threat to life or limb’.

And there are warnings of long waits for less urgent cases as services focus their attention on those most in need.

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Dr Neil O'Brien is executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board: "In common with the health and care system across the country, our A&E and ambulance services are under huge pressure,” he said.

Patients are being urged not to overburden the systemPatients are being urged not to overburden the system
Patients are being urged not to overburden the system

Risk of flu

"We are working hard to ensure patients who need emergency care are seen as quickly as possible and are prioritising patient care as best we can based on their need.

Levels of hospital admissions due to flu and Covid were increasing so it was more important than ever to get vaccinated: "The risk of serious illness and hospitalisation from catching flu is very real,” said Dr O’Brien.

"Hospitals and critical care units across our region are currently seeing a worrying number of patients being admitted due to the flu virus.

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Health bosses say services are facing extreme demandHealth bosses say services are facing extreme demand
Health bosses say services are facing extreme demand

"It's not too late to have your flu jab and doing so will protect against severe illness and hospitalisation.

‘Please think about other services’

"Young children who are not likely to have come across the flu virus before, and could, therefore, become much more unwell, can be protected with a free flu nasal spray that is available for all children aged two and three from your local GP practice. Flu vaccination reduces the chance of kids and adults spreading flu to vulnerable loved ones.

"If it's not an emergency, please think about other services first, like your local pharmacy, GP or NHS 111 online."

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Anyone with life-threatening conditions such as chest pains, breathing difficulties or severe loss of blood, should still seek emergency help.

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If you need advice for an everyday illness or injury, contact your local pharmacy or look at the self-care advice at

You can also check your symptoms at, which will redirect you to a health professional if you need treatment. Parents and families can also find valuable information from the Healthier Together website or app.