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Public urged to use emergency health services wisely this New Year weekend

People in the North East are being reminded to please only call 999 or visit A&E if their condition is a threat to life or limb as services continue to face high demand over the New Year weekend.

Following the Christmas period, New Year is traditionally known as one of the busiest weekends and as we head into the extended bank holiday, emergency services are once again asking for the public’s support to ensure resources are available for those who need them most.

Deputy chief operating officer, Victoria Court said: “The winter period is extremely busy and demand for emergency services increases. We want everyone to enjoy ringing in the New Year but we also urge the public to please think before picking up the phone to 999 or 111 and think about other services first including 111 online and pharmacies and GP when they are open.

“We would always advise someone who thinks their condition is life threatening to call us but please think before you pick up the phone – do you really need an ambulance or is there another way of you getting help?

“Please always consider 111 online first and if you do think you need to go to hospital, consider whether you’re able to make your own way there, if it safe to do so. We also ask that anyone waiting for an ambulance please only call back if their condition worsens or to cancel if it is no longer required. Delays can bring harm to patients so it’s important that we take every measure we can to reduce them.

“Please ensure your medicine cabinet is stocked up with any regular medication you require as well as essentials like a first aid kit, thermometer, paracetamol, ibuprofen, antihistamines and plasters.”

“Finally, if you’re out celebrating, please have a good time but look out for each other and don’t ruin your fun by ending up in the back of an ambulance.”

Dr Neil O’Brien, executive medical director for the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, said: “This is traditionally the busiest time for the NHS and our emergency services will be stretched; and following several days of industrial action, our hospitals will still be managing long waits and prioritising the most urgent cases.

“We want everyone to enjoy the New Year celebrations, but I urge people to do so safely by reducing your drinking to help avoid unnecessary incidents.”

The Safe Haven van in partnership with Northumbria Police will be in operation in Newcastle City Centre during these busy periods as well as Medicar in Cleveland which is supported by Cleveland Police.

Victoria Court continued: “These services are available to protect vulnerable members of the public by providing them a place of safety, whilst reducing the impact on front-line policing and ambulances. This also helps relieve pressures on local hospitals and provide a secure environment to pass on safety information and give medical assistance to anyone who might need it.”