Northamptonshire hospitals are urging the public to avoid attending unless “absolutely necessary” and to use other NHS services where possible.
The appeal from Northampton and Kettering General Hospitals following a surge in demand across local health providers.
A rise of up to 20 per cent in attendances at both hospitals in the last week along have put a serious strain on A&E departments.
An NHS spokeswoman said that a large number of patients go to A&E departments with minor injuries and illnesses which could be treated elsewhere.
Dr Matthew Davies said: “Over the last week winter-related pressures on the local health service have been building.
“The most serious impact has been an increased need to admit people with significant medical problems to hospital for specialist care.
“This has put pressure on hospital beds at a time when all NHS services are also very busy.
“The public play a very important role though in the appropriate use of NHS services. They can help us to ease pressure on hospitals by only using A&E when there is a real emergency.
“For anything less they should be looking to get advice from their local GP, by using the Corby Urgent Care Centre, by using NHS 111 or by asking their local pharmacist for advice.
“The next 48 hours are likely to be very busy at local hospitals and we would urge people not to use them unless this is absolutely necessary.
“By acting appropriately people will help hospitals to concentrate their attention on the currently large numbers of people who need urgent hospital care.”
County health organisations are urging local people to do their bit to ease pressures by:
- Only attending hospital A&E departments if their condition cannot be seen by a GP or pharmacist and is clearly very serious.
- Not attending or visiting hospitals with stomach bugs or colds or flu symptoms – there is currently norovirus circulating in the local community which can spread quickly and impact on hospital capacity.
- When in doubt about whether you need NHS support start by using health advice services such as the helpline and website NHS 111.
- Treat common colds, flu and minor illnesses with advice and support from local pharmacists.
At Kettering General Hospital some routine outpatient appointments and at both hospitals operations will be rescheduled over the next two days. Affected patients will be contacted. Emergency operations and cancer appointments will not be affected.