Although cases of the virus are continuing to fall, senior medics at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust say they still face chllenges posed by the pandemic including pressure on space in hospital.
In Hartlepool there were 110 new cases of Covid-19 in the seven days up to Monday, March 8.
That is 34 fewer than the previous week or a fall of 23.6%.
But Deepak Dwarakanath, medical director at the North Tees and Hartlepool hospital trust, said: “Although the number of COVID-19 cases in our communities and our hospitals is continuing to decline, we still face challenges posed by the pandemic which includes adhering to social distancing and infection control precautions.
“This means the space available to care for people and allow our staff to work safely still remains reduced by between 30 and 50 per cent and we know this will continue for some time to come.
“At the same time, we know that many people who come into our A&E department could have been dealt with much more quickly and safely by an alternative healthcare service.”
Mike Stewart, chief medical officer at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals including James Cook in Middlesbrough, echoed the calls.
He said: “This is why we are continuing to urge the public to think pharmacy, GP and 111 first and to only attend A&E or call 999 if you have serious or life-threatening emergencies.
“Those who do turn up to our A&E department will of course be assessed clinically by a member of our team but will be re-directed to a more appropriate service for their needs if they don’t need emergency care.”
Professor Chris Gray, clinical lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System, added: “The support for the NHS has been amazing over the past year so we would like to thank all our communities for all they have done to help us.
"Please keep this up – there are brighter times ahead if we all do our bit.”