Your NHS needs you! Emergency departments remain under severe pressure

Posted on Fri, 13/12/2019

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

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 needs first.

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 toilet.

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 complications.

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 Yorkshire, said:

“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 illnesses.

“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.

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 or visit for advice about where to get the right treatment.

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 shorter waits.

If people have an urgent health need that cannot wait, but not sure if you should go to your local emergency department, contact 111 services via the website or by calling 111 (available 24/7).

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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