A MAJOR nursing union has urged patients to think twice before attending busy hospital emergency wards.
The Royal College of Nursing Northern Region, which represents around 18,000 members, says Accident and Emergency departments are facing significant pressure due to a range of factors, including a rise in patients with winter vomiting symptoms.
And the union is urging members of the public to choose wisely when considering which health services are most appropriate for their needs to avoid putting further unnecessary strain on the system.
RCN Officer Greg Canning said: “Nurses have been contacting us from across the region to say that A&E departments are experiencing unprecedented demand on services. Virtually every hospital in the North East and Cumbria seems to be affected.
“Although it is typical at this time of year for services to experience winter pressures, it appears that a range of factors, including a rise in the number of patients reporting with winter vomiting type symptoms, are adding to the strain on services.
“It is absolutely vital that the public only attend A&E departments or call 999 if the situation is a genuine emergency. The first choice for the majority of patients should be to contact their local GP, NHS walk-in centre, or to call NHS Direct.”
People can check symptoms online at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or call 0845 4647.