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Public advised to ‘choose well’ as A&E attendances rise

Thursday, 10 July, 2014
Public advised to ‘choose well’ as A&E attendances rise

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is reminding members of the public across North Tyneside and Northumberland to choose the right NHS service for the severity of their symptoms to help ease pressure on busy A&E departments.

The message follows a nine per cent rise in A&E attendances across the Trust in December 2012 compared to the same period the previous year.

Local A&E departments are especially busy and people with minor conditions are being advised to consider other options so that A&E teams can concentrate on helping those who are critically ill with serious life threatening emergencies.  

Mike Rickards, A&E Consultant at North Tyneside General Hospital said:  “Our teams have seen a significant increase in A&E attendances over the past month compared to the previous year and we would always ask people to consider the most appropriate service to help them get the right treatment quickly.

“Diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu are all unpleasant but in the majority of cases these illnesses can be treated at home with rest, plenty of fluids and some over the counter medication from your pharmacist.  Attending A&E with these conditions will only spread germs amongst other more vulnerable and seriously ill patients.

“If you are suffering from cold or flu and feel that your symptoms are getting worse and don’t clear up after a few days, then you should call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or telephone your local GP surgery for advice.

“Equally, anyone suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit friends or relatives in hospital until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours as they risk passing on the illness to those who are already unwell.”

The region’s NHS is reinforcing the message that A&E and 999 services are for serious, life threatening emergencies. People are being urged to ‘choose well’ and select the most appropriate NHS service for the seriousness of their symptoms:

  • Self-care – for minor illnesses, combine over-the-counter medicines with plenty of rest
  • NHS Direct – can answer any health questions, around the clock, and help to find services (check online first at or call 0845 4647)
  • Pharmacist/chemist – for advice on illnesses and the right medicines for coughs, colds, flu, stomach upsets, aches and sprains.
  • GP (and GP out of hours services) – for medical advice, examinations and prescriptions for illnesses you can’t shake off
  • NHS walk-in centre/Urgent care centre – for treatment of minor illnesses or injuries, without an appointment
  • A&E or 999 – only for critical or life-threatening situations.

Faced with ever increasing numbers of A&E attendances, from 2015 the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital will treat the most critically ill patients from across North Tyneside and Northumberland, helping ease pressure on local A&E teams who will continue to treat patients with less serious and non life threatening conditions.

The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital at Cramlington will be the first hospital of its kind in the country to have specialists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to see and treat the most critically ill or injured patients.