THE emergency department at the Northumbria hospital is under ‘severe’ pressure, patients have been warned.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said the number of people attending the emergency department at the Cramlington hospital had hit record levels – far in excess of even winter pressures.

The trust said on a daily basis, staff were having to deal with patients arriving for urgent care who did not need to be seen in an emergency department. People were being urged to use pharmacies, their GP or urgent care centres in non-urgent cases.

“It’s vital that people understand the emergency department is designed for people in need of the most urgent or life-saving care – it isn’t meant to be a walk-in for any and all ailments,” said Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at the trust.

“If people need help but it’s not urgent or life threatening then they should seek alternative options such as a pharmacy, their GP or our urgent care centres and minor injuries units. These services often have much shorter waits and deliver the same outstanding care; including tests and x-ray.

“Our staff do an amazing job dealing with the demands placed upon them but we really need the public’s help.

“People must understand that if they continue to attend the emergency department with non-urgent conditions than it is inevitable that they will face a very long wait as we will always prioritise patients based on clinical need.

“So before you turn up please ask yourself: is this really an emergency that needs to be dealt with immediately?”