A&E teams across the North East and North Cumbria are appealing to the public to only attend emergency departments or call 999 if you have serious or life-threatening emergencies.
Deepak Dwarakanath, medical director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “Although the number of covid-19 cases in our communities and our hospitals are continuing to decline, we still face challenges posed by the pandemic which includes adhering to social distancing and infection control precautions
“This means the space available to care for people and allow our staff to work safely still remains reduced by between 30 and 50 per cent and we know this will continue for some time to come.
“At the same time, we know that many people who come into our A&E department could have been dealt with much more quickly and safely by an alternative healthcare service.
Dr Jo Hughes, consultant in emergency medicine at Northumbria Healthcare added: “We are continuing to urge the public to think pharmacy, GP and 111 first and only attend A&E or call 999 if you have serious or life-threatening emergencies.
“Those that do turn up to our A&E department will of course be assessed clinically by a member of our team but will be re-directed to a more appropriate service for their needs if they don’t need emergency care.
“By thinking of alternative services people will be doing their bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus, keep people safe and keep A&E for those that really need it.
“Please remember that NHS 111 online or telephone can make direct appointments at surgeries, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres. They can also send an ambulance for serious or life-threatening issues.”
Staff across the region are also reminding people to remember:
• If you are visiting any of our healthcare settings, please remember to wear a face covering and use our handwashing and alcohol gel facilities.
• Please attend appointments on your own, where possible, to limit the number of people on site and reduce the risk of infection to other patients and hospital staff.
• If you suspect you have Covid-19 stay at home and get a test. You cannot access testing through A&E.
And as restrictions start to ease in the coming months and with warmer weather on the way, the NHS is also asking people to use services sensibly.
Clinical lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System, Professor Chris Gray: “Over the coming months as restrictions start to ease and the weather improves we are asking people to act responsibly, follow the rules and consider carefully the impact alcohol and other behaviours can have on NHS services such as emergency care.
“The support for the NHS has been amazing over the past year so we would like to thank all our communities for all they have done to help us. Please keep this up, there are brighter times ahead if we all do our bit.”