NHS staff across the region are being thanked for their
unwavering efforts caring for patients over Christmas and New Year,
as health services across the North East and North Cumbria continue
to cope well with the annual winter surge in demand.
Despite the festive period being over and many people returning
to work this week, hospitals are bracing themselves for a sustained
increase in pressure throughout January and beyond, as more people
become unwell with seasonal illness, particularly flu, and require
emergency hospital admission.
During the month of December alone, many hospitals across the
region once again saw a rise in emergency care attendances with an
overall increase of four per cent* (over 2,800 more attendances)
when compared to December 2016.
In Sunderland and South Tyneside, almost 15,000 people arrived
through the emergency department doors in December, representing
over a ten per cent increase in activity compared to the same month
last year. Over 6,000 of these attendances were in the
ten days between Christmas and New Year. Sunderland Royal
Hospital's emergency department also saw the second highest number
of ambulance arrivals of all Trusts in the region during the month
Hardworking frontline NHS staff have once again banded together,
often at great personal sacrifice, to focus their efforts on
providing safe care for patients and prioritising those with the
most urgent clinical needs.
Speaking on behalf of all NHS providers in the region, Ken
Bremner Chief Executive of City Hospitals Sunderland and South
Tyneside NHS Foundation Trusts expressed his sincere thanks to
everyone who has played a role in caring for patients throughout
the festive period.
He said: "The last few weeks have been an extremely busy and
challenging time, not only here in Sunderland and South Tyneside,
but across the region as a whole. NHS staff have worked
relentlessly and beyond the call of duty to provide safe patient
care, despite the extreme demands on services. We should all
be extremely proud of the way in which teams are pulling together,
often across organisational boundaries, to effective manage these
pressures together and in the very best interests of patient
"Although the festivities are over, this is really just the
start of the busy winter period for the NHS and for the thousands
of NHS staff who work across the region. All Trusts have
already done a great deal of planning and preparation to make sure
we continue to cope well with the influx of very poorly patients
that we expect to see at this time of year.
"There is no doubt that seasonal flu has started to take a hold
in our communities and we are seeing more patients becoming
seriously ill and needing to be admitted to hospital. I would urge
people who have not yet had their flu jab to do so as soon as
possible and to please stay away from hospital if you are
experiencing any flu like symptoms which can be very easily
Seasonal flu and the winter vomiting big 'norovirus' are now
widely circulating in local communities. Whilst both can be
unpleasant, for people who are otherwise fit and healthy, they will
usually clear up with good self-care, resting, drinking plenty of
fluids and taking over the counter medication.
Everyone can help reduce the pressure on the NHS this winter by
looking after themselves, keeping a well-stocked medicine kit at
home, using local pharmacists for expert advice and treatment for
common illness and ailments or by calling NHS 111 for urgent advice
and before attending hospital.
This year, there are hundreds of extra GP appointments available
for those who do need to see a doctor or nurse and these are
bookable by contacting your practice in the usual way or by calling
NHS 111 which is available 24/7.
Parents can also search for the 'NHS child health' in the app
store to get a free app developed by local doctors and nurses for
advice on common childhood illnesses.
Remember, 999 and emergency care are for serious or
life-threatening conditions such as chest pain, significant loss of
blood, loss of consciousness, suspected stroke or breathing
For detailed information of all available services visit www.urgentoremergency.co.uk.
* Figures below for all Trusts across the
North East and North Cumbria relate to 'type
attendances at the region's major emergency departments for seriously ill
or injured people.
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS
County Durham and Darlington NHS
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation
Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Northumbria Healthcare NHS
North Cumbria University
Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS
South Tees Hospitals NHS
South Tyneside NHS Foundation
- a new urgent and emergency care
system is now in place at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation
Trust which diverts more
minor patients away from the Trust's 'type one' emergency
department. This has
successfully reduced inappropriate attendances at the emergency
department, however the number of emergency admissions to hospital
has continued to increase.
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can
The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get
pain in their ear and appear less active.
How to treat flu yourself
To help you get better more
People eligible for a free flu vaccine
'I cannot commend the clinic enough. It is marvellous we
have this service at all and well done to you all.'
Patient, Coronary Heart Disease / Heart Failure Service, Shotley
Bridge Community Hospital