As flu arrives with a vengeance, the NHS in the North East and
North Cumbria is appealing to people with flu-like symptoms to stay
away from hospitals in the region.
Emergency departments and 999 services across the North East and
North Cumbria are already extremely busy with the colder weather
affecting people with long-term health conditions and the over 65s
During the festive break, hospitals across the region have seen
a surge in the number of people who are seriously ill requiring
hospital admission due to seasonal flu and this has put additional
pressure on services. Some Trusts have also been experiencing
severe outbreaks of the winter vomiting bug 'norovirus'.
Healthcare leaders have today thanked NHS staff across the
region who have been working tirelessly to provide safe patient
care during what has been one of the busiest Christmas and New Year
periods on record with unprecedented levels of demand.
Between 23 December and January 1, The North East Ambulance
Service took more than 40,000 NHS111 calls and more than 16,000 999
calls - compared to around 28,000 NHS111 calls and 15,000 999 calls
in the same period last year.
As a result of this, combined with pressures felt throughout the
rest of the NHS system, NEAS has raised its operational alert to
four - extreme pressure - to ensure it is able to maintain an
effective and safe operational and clinical response for
The system is continuing to cope well despite the relentless
pressures facing frontline staff, however the region's NHS is now
appealing to the public as follows:
A joint statement on behalf of all NHS providers in the region,
"There is a lot of flu out in the community at the moment and
over the past week we have seen a rise in the number of people who
are seriously affected by the virus and have required hospital
admission. This includes some patients needing ventilation and help
with their breathing.
"The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against
the seasonal flu virus which can cause severe illness and even
deaths for those who are most vulnerable. It is really important
that everyone who is eligible, including all frontline NHS staff,
get the flu jab ASAP to protect themselves and others.
"For everyone else, although flu is a nasty virus it will get
better without the need to attend hospital. Flu is highly
infectious and we are urging people with symptoms to stay away from
hospital to help ease the pressure on our busy teams and stop the
Meanwhile to help ensure that patients who really need emergency
care receive the quickest possible treatment, members of the public
should only dial 999 or attend emergency care for serious medical
emergencies. Medical emergencies include:
Severe loss of blood;
Severe allergic reactions
Members of the public should be prepared for long waits in
emergency departments across the region if they attend with any
minor illnesses or ailments as NHS staff focus on keeping patients
safe and treating those with the most urgent medical needs.
People should call NHS 111 first if they think they need urgent
medical advice and before attending any NHS services. Detailed
information of all available services is also online at www.urgentoremergency.co.uk.
Despite the significant pressures facing the NHS, the region
remains one of the top performing areas in England with most NHS
providers in the top 20 nationally for making sure patients are
seen and treated within four hours of arrival in the emergency
Published 3rd January 2018
'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly,
efficiently and professionally with full explanations and
compassion from all staff involved'.
Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital