1. ITV Report

People urged to turn up for treatment

Operations have been delayed. Credit: PA Images

People in the North East and North Yorkshire with medical treatment booked have been told to turn up for it unless they hear otherwise.

This call has come after NHS trusts across the UK deferred thousands of operations, when told they could do following government advice.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has apologised after winter pressure on the NHS led to the postponements.

It is estimated that up to 55,000 operations in the UK could now be put off though there is no information available on how many could be affected in the Tyne Tees region.

Each trust is set to work out its own response. One, the Northumbria Healthcare Trust has issued a statement saying there will not be a 'blanket' cancellation of procedures and where possible it will be running an unchanged schedule.

Dr Stuart Findlay, co-chairman of the North East and Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network, which represents all NHS organisations, said: "The guidance advises that trusts can delay planned, non-urgent operations to release staff and resources and capacity to deal with more urgent cases, ensuring that those patients in the greatest immediate need get the support they require.

"Each hospital is different so they can choose how they do this and our region’s hospital trusts will try to minimise disruption to those patients with non urgent planned operations when making their decisions."

"It’s very important that patients with planned operations, procedures or outpatient appointments should attend as normal unless they are specifically contacted by their hospital and asked not to," he said.

"Only those patients contacted directly will have appointments delayed and these will be rearranged. Cancer diagnosis and treatment appointments will not be delayed.

"Any patients who do have a hospital appointment delayed, and feel their condition is getting worse, should contact their GP in the first instance for support.”

Dr Findlay also thanked NHS staff for their work and said people could help reduce pressure on the NHS by having their flu jab, keeping a well-stocked medicine kit at home, using local pharmacists for advice and treatment for common illness or by calling NHS 111 for urgent advice.

He also emphasises that "normally healthy" young people or adult who have symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, or symptoms of flu should not go to hospital. Advice on self-care can be found online.

Extra GP appointments have been made available for people who do need to see a doctor or nurse, and 999 calls or hospital emergency department visits should only be used in emergencies.

Mr Hunt told ITV News the seasonal pressure was predicted and echoed NHS chiefs in saying hospitals had been "better prepared" for this year's conditions.

But he said: "That doesn't mean there isn't huge pressure."

When asked if he would apologise to patients, he said: "Of course".

Mr Hunt added: "If yours was the hip replacement that was cancelled and you could have to wait another month for that you could be in pain and that is unacceptable and I apologise wholeheartedly for that."