Video report from Helen Ford
Frontline medical teams are gearing up for a busy Easter weekend, with the message that we should only attend emergency departments if absolutely necessary.
The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington focuses on treating patients with the most serious and life-threatening conditions, across the populations of Northumberland and North Tyneside.
Recently, its teams have seen growing numbers of people coming through its doors, and that volume is expected to rise further this bank holiday.
Consultant Dr Andy Jones says it is vital that people chose the right medical service for their needs and only come to the ED in a real emergency.
He said, "It's always a very high demand time and obviously over the four days, a lot of the normal NHS services are not available so people do tend to come to the emergency department."
"Our plea to them would be to really think about where you want to go before you come to the emergency department."
According to the NHS, emergencies include:
Loss of consciousness
Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
The NHS urges people with less serious conditions to consider GP's, pharmacies and 111 services instead.
The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital is among the sites run by Northumbria Healthcare.
Such is the demand on its emergency facilities that the trust has taken action. A ward at Hexham General Hospital has been temporarily converted from being used for planned surgery to take in emergency patients.
Consultant anaesthetist Dr Eliot Sykes says the move is partly in readiness for extra demand over the bank holiday.
Sykes said, "We felt that we needed additional bed capacity in the organisation to deliver that emergency care. We've done it before, through Covid. We felt now was the time to do it again in terms of the pressures we were feeling and the potential pressures at Easter."
All this comes as the NHS across the region continues to deal with the pressures of Covid, though many of the patients who have tested positive for the virus in the hospital are there to be treated for a separate condition.
Across the North East and North Cumbria health region:
For the teams at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, bank holidays are always busy. This Easter, they say their priority is treating patients with serious and life-threatening conditions and urge us all to help them do that.