Health leaders in North Yorkshire and York are urging patients to only visit hospital A&Es “in genuine life and limb emergencies”.
A&Es across the region are currently under intense pressure and some patients are waiting longer to be seen than might ordinarily be the case.
Ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend, the NHS says patients who have an urgent care need should contact NHS 111 – online at www.111.nhs.uk, via the NHS App or over the phone.
In many cases, patients with relatively minor health complaints may also be able to get the help and over-the-counter medicines they need from their local community pharmacy.
Ed Smith, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Deputy Medical Director at York and Scarborough Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Operational pressures are being felt across the entire system and our hospitals and emergency departments in York and Scarborough continue to be extremely busy.
“Please only use our emergency department if you need emergency care and attention and leave this service for those that need it most.”
Dr Charles Parker, the Clinical Chair of NHS North Yorkshire CCG, said: “There are still really high levels of COVID circulating in our communities and this is not just having an impact on the numbers of patients with COVID in our hospitals, it’s also affecting staffing levels in all healthcare settings.
“As a result, GP practices and hospitals are under extraordinary pressure to meet patient demand and we’re seeing more people turn to A&Es with minor illnesses and injuries that could be treated elsewhere.
“We would ask patients to think carefully before attending A&E this Easter – and if it’s not a genuine life and limb emergency to contact NHS 111 if it’s urgent, or visit a local pharmacy if it’s a problem that could be resolved with simple over-the-counter remedies.”
Michelle Carrington, Executive Director of Quality and Nursing at NHS Vale of York CCG, added: “If you have a relatively minor health issue and you choose to attend A&E rather than use other more appropriate alternatives, it may mean a longer wait for someone who genuinely needs emergency care.
“When our A&E departments are under extreme pressure it means ambulances waiting to handover patients, may not be able to do so. That means those ambulances cannot get back out onto the road to respond to serious emergencies.
“It is important that you access A&E or ring an ambulance if you have a serious or life-threatening emergency.
“However, hospital emergency departments are not the right place for minor health issues and we would ask patients to think NHS 111 if they’re unsure where to turn for help.”