Medics are urging people to only attend hospital in an emergency as the NHS continues to face ‘severe pressure’ to services.
The message to ‘be prepared and stay well’ over the holiday period encourages people most at risk to take action.
Our staff will be working incredibly hard over the Easter period to deliver an excellent service but we need the public to help – please don’t come to A&E unless it is a genuine emergency. And please do not visit our sites if someone you know has symptoms of diarrhoea and sicknessNick Roper
It includes those with long-term health conditions and the over-65s, to prepare for the Easter holiday period and to know what to do if they get ill.
The message encourages people to seek advice from a pharmacist as soon as possible and before any illness gets more serious, and ordering prescriptions in advance.
Dr Nick Roper, clinical director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are still facing severe pressure following the cold weather.
“Our staff will be working incredibly hard over the Easter period to deliver an excellent service, but we need the public to help – please don’t come to A&E unless it is a genuine emergency. And please do not visit our sites if someone you know has symptoms of diarrhoea and sickness.”
Dr Jonathan Slade, NHS England’s deputy medical directorin Cumbria and the North East – and a practicing GP –said: “Simple steps can be taken to stay well over the Easter period and reduce the chance of serious illness.
“Pharmacies offer convenient, expert advice to people who have the first signs of illness. If you feel your illness is more urgent and need advice about where to go for medical treatment, then you should call NHS 111 – advice is available 24/7.
“Please order your prescription medicines in advance and make sure you are stocked up for the holiday period.”
The ‘be prepared’ call comes at a time when the NHS has faced increased, sustained pressure and unprecedented demand following severe cold weather. There is also a spike in demand on NHS services during the Easter holiday.
Norovirus is continuing to affect NHS trust sites across the region. The virus, which usually starts with a sense of ‘feeling sick’ followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, is highly contagious.
Anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should stay away from hospital sites, unless their visit is absolutely necessary.
Dr Slade added: “General practices will be offering services over the holiday period but you can help ease pressure at a busy time by choosing which service you use wisely.
“For many ailments such as coughs and colds, people don’t need to go to A&E or their local GP practice and are better off taking some paracetamol, drinking plenty of fluids and resting.”
Log onto www.nhs.uk/staywellpharmacy for your nearest NHS pharmacy opening hours.