Devon health bosses reveal plans to tackle another busy winter amid long A&E waiting times

Emergency Department waiting times in parts of Devon are already worse than expected for this time of year as health bosses prepare for another busy winter.

Today hospital trusts, pharmacists and GPs unveiled their plans for coping with the expected increase on demand and what some are calling a potential 'winter crisis'.

Two of the region's largest hospitals, Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and Torbay Hospital, are starting a pilot project to try to prevent ambulances queuing outside the front door.

This is one of a number of initiatives in planning for the winter - including only allowing one per cent of leave for ambulance staff over the Christmas period.

Read more: Top doctor's warning over 'long delays' at Derriford Hospital emergency department in Plymouth

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital has one of the region's busiest emergency departments. Credit: ITV News

Flu jabs could be another key to easing winter pressures. In Devon this year all primary school children will be offered flu vaccines as well as younger children.

At the peak of winter there will be up to 3,000 999 calls for ambulances per day, and the public are being asked to make sure they make the right call.

Patients are being urged to use other services and not rely on emergency departments. Credit: ITV News

Read next: 'He couldn't breathe, it was really scary' - Cornwall mum's terror as eight-year-old son is rushed to hospital with flu

Alternatives to A&E

Patients are instead advised to consider visiting a minor injury unit, a pharmacist or their local GP.

The NHS’ 111 number is also available for people who urgently need medical help or advice but are not in a life-threatening situation.