Health services in the region are currently experiencing very high levels of demand and NHS leaders are asking for support through people ensuring they use the right service for their need.
Emergency and other urgent walk-in departments are extremely busy, with patients warned that they may face long waits. Staff are doing everything they can to manage this and ensure people are seen as soon as possible, but the public can support this process though by not attending A&E for less serious issues.
Dr Neil O’Brien, accountable officer for South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) said: “The NHS is here to care for people and people should not delay seeking medical advice and help if they need it, but we ask them to think carefully about which service they access. Our emergency departments need to focus on treating patients with life-threatening conditions.
We understand it can be hard to navigate the system and if you need emergency care for a life-threatening condition or injury always call 999, but for other issues, please go online to NHS 111 or contact your local pharmacy for expert advice on self-care.
Demand for services from GP practices also remains extremely high and they continue to work hard to ensure patients can access services in a number of different ways from face to face appointments, online and over the phone.
Local GP and clinical chair of North Tyneside CCG, Dr Richard Scott, from Marine Avenue Medical Centre added: “Due to the levels of demand, this is a difficult time for everyone and we know there can be delays, but we also know that lots of people are still trying to make GP appointments for very minor ailments.
“To support GP practices people should please consider if a pharmacist can help deal with their health need or give advice in the first instance. They can also use the practice’s online consultation option which can be found on practice websites and NHS 111 online is a comprehensive and trusted source for healthcare advice.
“In primary care, we do need to triage patients so that we can see those most in need and for many patients, things like virtual or telephone appointments will also be more convenient for and appropriate for their needs.”
He added: “We know that waits can be frustrating, and we apologise for any inconvenience, but please respect and be kind to our colleagues working across the NHS and in social care, who are doing what they can to provide the services the public needs.”