Health chiefs from across the region have confirmed that
emergency departments remain very busy and some patients may
experience very long waits as frontline teams prioritise serious
emergencies and those in greatest clinical need.
People who do not need emergency care are being urged to think
about alternatives to hospital - including using NHS 111 which is
available 24/7 for urgent medical advice either by calling or going
online at 111.nhs.uk.
Members of the public who attend an emergency department with
any minor illnesses should be prepared for long waits as NHS staff
will rightly focus on treating those with the most urgent medical
The ambulance service is also very busy with long waits for
non-life threatening calls and people are being urged to only
contact 999 for emergencies.
People with vomiting and diarrhoea are being asked to stay away
from hospitals and GP surgeries until they are at least 48 hours
symptom-free so they don't pass on their bugs and put staff and
patients at risk. People are advised to take sensible steps
to protect themselves and their loved ones by washing their hands
regularly with soap and water, especially after going to the
The NHS across the region is also seeing high numbers of people
suffering from flu and health chiefs are urging those at risk*,
including all frontline NHS staff, to take up their offer of a free
vaccination as a matter of urgency. Vaccination is the single
most effective way to prevent catching the flu and to protect
yourself and others, especially those at risk of serious
On behalf of all NHS providers in the region, Professor Chris
Gray, medical director professional standards and system
improvement at NHS England and Improvement in the North and
"If you are symptomatic of diarrhoea and vomiting the main thing
is to stay away from hospital unless you are in immediate need of
urgent, critical care.
"Simple steps, like washing your hands regularly and getting the
flu vaccine are the best protection we have against the seasonal
"It's important to remember that your local emergency department
should be reserved for people in immediate need of critical or
lifesaving care. There are a range of high-quality alternatives to
choose from. If you are unsure which is right for you, you can
contact NHS 111 online or by telephone.
"The NHS will always be here for you when you need us but we
need your help to relieve the pressure on our doctors and nurses
who are busy treating those who need it the most.
"We would like to say a huge thank you to all our teams who
always go that extra mile and work tirelessly to provide the best
care, no matter how busy we are. We would like to say thank you to
the public for their continued support."
Members of the public should also be aware that all GPs now have
extended opening times and they should consider this option and
contact them to make an appointment.
'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been
excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very
thankful and relieved patient'.
Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital
of North Durham