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People urged to think before using A&E this Christmas

Photo: ITV Border

People are being urged to only use casualty departments for genuine emergencies this Christmas.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, says Christmas puts increasing pressure on hospitals so unnecessary visits to A&E should be avoided.

“Winter is our busiest time of year in our Accident & Emergency departments therefore we would to take this opportunity to remind people that A&E is for serious or life-threatening emergencies only.

"There are other routes we encourage patients to use for non-emergency health issues, such as seeing a pharmacist, GP or by calling 111, over the Christmas and New Year period. In most cases, this will mean they receive the advice and care they need much quicker.

“We want to ensure our attention is focused on patients who really need emergency care so they can receive the quickest possible treatment. We also do not want people who can be cared effectively elsewhere waiting in our A&E departments.

“We would also ask anyone who is feeling unwell to please avoid visiting relatives or friends who are in hospital.”

– Dr Jim Shawcross, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust

Pharmacists can provide instant, confidential advice and treatment for minor illnesses,without the need to make an appointment.

NHS England is also encouraging people to ensure that their medicine cabinet and first aid kits are well stocked before the festive period and that repeat prescriptions are collected well before Christmas and New Year.

Anyone who needs medical advice or guidance can call NHS 111 where they will be directed to the right type of service, including CHOC – Cumbria’s out of hours doctor service.