Patients have been asked to stay away from Northumberland emergency departments unless absolutely necessary as hospitals face unprecedented demand.
Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments at Wansbeck, Hexham and North Tyneside general hospitals are experiencing significant pressures this week, resulting in long waiting times for patients.
Now Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospitals, is pleading with the public to only go to A&E for serious health emergencies, such as a major accident, broken bones, breathing problems, severe chest pains, unconsciousness, suspected stroke or severe blood loss.
Those who do turn up are asked to be patient as there will be delays for cases that are not life-threatening or serious.
For medical advice people can call the NHS on 111, and for winter illnesses, such as coughs and colds, they should visit their local pharmacy.
For a guide to self-care log on to www.keepcalmthiswinter.org.uk/self-care-advice