HOSPITAL bosses say services have been under ‘intense pressure’ as Hartlepool and East Durham patients took ill over the Christmas period.
The A&E department at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton saw 1,351 attendances last week and 416 people were admitted onto the wards.
The increase from the previous year’s 1,231 attendances is being contributed to the recent spate of cold weather.
However, the influx in patients is placing a huge demand on staff and resources and bosses are urging people to stay away unless its a medical emergency.
Cath Siddle, director of nursing, patient safety and quality at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “The whole of the trust has been under intense pressure for a number of weeks.
“We have had significant emergency pressures across the trust, through our accident and emergency department and admissions onto the hospital wards.”
The minor injuries unit at Hartlepool One Life saw a small decrease in attendances with 257 people needing treatment, compared to 2013’s 259 patients during the same period.
Despite the slight dip in figures hospital chiefs want people to help ease the pressure by turning to their medicine cabinets, local pharmacies and GPs for treatments.
Ms Siddle said: “We do want to remind people that, accident and emergency, as its name suggests is for serious illnesses and injuries. Having things at home so you can take care of minor illnesses or injuries yourself means the doctors and nurses in the department can concentrate on looking after the seriously ill or injured.”
She added: “It’s useful to have a well-stocked medicine and first aid cabinet at home but if you have a minor illness, make an appointment to see your GP, visit a walk in centre or talk to your local pharmacist who will be happy to advise you.”
People are also reminded to call the NHS 111 service for medical advice and a guide for self-caring is available at www.keepcalmthiswinter.org.uk/self-care-advice.