NHS organisations across the North East and North Cumbria have
come together to issue a stark warning to the public as hospitals
and emergency ambulance services are already seeing the impact of
the change in seasons and first serious cases of flu.
The warning comes from staff working within emergency
departments (ED) across the region who are seeing a significant
increase in attendances on top of already record levels. On 1
October alone for example, more than 4,500 people attended the
region's emergency departments often for conditions that should be
seen elsewhere or (increasingly) for illnesses like flu which can
be managed or avoided through vaccination and self-care.
People are being reminded that EDs and 999 should only be used
if a patient is in immediate need of critical or life-saving care.
In all other cases alternatives should be used.
There are a wealth of NHS services people can use to treat
less serious injuries and illnesses. For instance, many ailments
can be treated using over-the-counter medicines and expert advice
from a pharmacist with people urged to 'talk before you walk'. GPs
can deal with a range of conditions with out-of-hours appointments
available. Equally, urgent care / treatment centres offer
high-quality care for a broad range of problems; often with much
If people start to feel unwell, they're urged not to wait until
they get worse but instead to ask a pharmacist for expert
confidential advice, visit www.nhs.uk for advice about
where to get the right treatment or call NHS 111.
NHS leaders are also urging those people who are at risk
from flu to take up their offer of a free vaccination as soon as
possible or risk putting other people - including NHS staff - at
risk. Those eligible for a free NHS flu jab, including people aged
65 and over, those with certain medical conditions and pregnant
women, should contact their GP practice to arrange their
The advice comes from every NHS organisation in the region -
from provider trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to
regional teams of national organisations.
Dr Stewart Findlay, chief officer for the five CCGs across
Durham and Tees Valley, said: "We need to be honest with people
about the consequences that their decisions lead to. For instance,
not getting your flu jab will almost certainly mean more pressure
on our nurses and doctors - even if you never get 'sick' you can
still carry it and infect others. Equally, attending ED when you
don't need it inevitably means a longer wait for someone else; with
potentially dire results.
"To continue to cope the NHS needs a hand from the general
public - with that help we can ensure that everyone gets the care
they need when they need it."
Published 3rd October 2019
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