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Public reminded how to access urgent help this winter

Wednesday, 30 November, 2016
Public reminded how to access urgent help this winter

Leaders at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are reminding people living in North Tyneside and Northumberland how to access services if they need urgent help from their local NHS this winter.

From 00:01hrs on Thursday 1 December, the opening times of the trust’s three urgent care centres at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals will change from 24 hours a day, to become 8am to midnight, seven days a week.

The temporary overnight changes to urgent care centre opening times are part of proactive winter resilience planning across the NHS as local health leaders prepare for another exceptionally busy year, and as demand on NHS services continues to rise across the country.  The short-term measure means that the skills and expertise of vital nursing staff can be concentrated where they are needed most by patients. 

Northumbria Healthcare is very keen to stress that all three urgent care centres will continue to be open every day, including weekends, from 8am until 12 midnight, when most people already access services.  There is also a medical presence with doctors on each site from 9am until 10pm seven days a week.  The trust’s urgent care centres offer walk-in services for minor problems including:

  • Minor head, ear or eye problems
  • Broken nose or nose bleed
  • Sprains, strains, cuts and bites
  • Children’s minor injuries and ailments
  • Minor fractures or broken bones
  • Abscesses and wound infections

The public are also being reminded to ‘think GP first’ and to contact their local GP practice as the first port of call for the majority of healthcare needs and urgent medical problems. People should not attend urgent care centres unless they absolutely need to and only if their needs cannot be met by practising good self-care, visiting a pharmacy for over the counter medication or by first seeking GP advice.

If people need urgent medical advice overnight they should call the free NHS 111 which is available 24/7 and will direct people to the most appropriate service including the out-of-hours GP service Northern Doctors Urgent Care.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “The NHS is gearing up for its busiest winter yet and we really need people to act responsibility and think about how they access local services if they have an urgent need this winter.

“Our urgent care centres will continue to be open every single day, from 8am until 12 midnight, which is when we know most people access services, but we would also urge people to really think about whether they need to come to hospital at all.

“A lot of the patients we see in our urgent care centres arrive with very common and easy-to-treat winter ailments such as cough and colds, upset tummies or for ongoing problems such as back ache – all of which can be best looked after at home with no hospital-based intervention or by visiting a pharmacist or GP.” 

The trust is also calling on the pubic to keep The Northumbria hospital and 999 free for those with serious, life-threatening emergencies:

  • Suspected stroke
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Persistent and severe chest pain
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe blood loss

Dr Rushmer added: “People should not attend The Northumbria hospital for minor problems which can be best looked after in primary care by visiting a pharmacist, booking a GP appointment, or indeed by simply looking after themselves well at home.  If people do attend The Northumbria with minor problems they will need to be prepared for a long wait as our teams will be extremely busy caring for serious and life threatening emergencies.”

Northumbria Healthcare is backing the national NHS national Stay Well This Winter campaign to urge people to look after themselves well over the colder months and use local pharmacies and GPs for advice.  There are a number of steps everyone can take to help ease pressure on the NHS this winter:

  • Make sure you get your flu jab if eligible
  • Keep yourself warm – heat your home to least 18 degrees C (or 65F) if you can
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious
  • Make sure you get your prescription medicines before GP surgeries and pharmacies close for the Christmas holidays
  • Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter.

For more information about the campaign visit or about services in Northumberland and North Tyneside visit