A hospitals trust in Lincolnshire is asking people not to visit A&E departments unless it is an emergency.
The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) says its services, such as the A&E department at Grantham Hospital, are very busy.
The trust says people can help by using the alternative urgent care services available in the county.
Dr Suneil Kapadia, medical director for ULHT, said: “I urge everyone to think twice before they go to A&E. If it’s not serious or life threatening, you shouldn’t be there. If you go there when you don’t need to, this puts more pressure on hard-working staff and already stretched resources.
“Many illnesses can be better treated by visiting your local pharmacy, calling 111, visiting your local GP or GP out of hours services, or attending a walk-in centre or a minor injuries unit. Remember A&E is for accidents and emergencies only.”
Dr Kevin Hill, chair of NHS South Lincolnshire CCG, added: “I echo the advice given by ULHT. Our local hospitals, along with our ambulance service EMAS, are already experiencing high demand, which will lead to delays for anyone visiting A&E. Please help us by not going to A&E unless you have a serious or life threatening condition. Instead take advantage of the other sources of advice available locally, including pharmacies, NHS 111, GPs and GP out of hours, walk-in centres and minor injury units”.
Dr Phil Mitchell, medical director at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “There are lots of people in Lincolnshire who have long term health conditions. It can be hard in the winter and in the busy run-up to Christmas to find time to look after yourself, but asking your GP practice to issue a repeat prescription could make all the difference.
“Every year some people feel that they have to visit a minor injury unit, a walk-in centre or even A&E for their regular medication because they have left it too late to get their prescription. Please remember to order your prescriptions for your medicines in good time and remember to collect from your local chemist too. Many pharmacists will also order your medicines for you. Just discuss with your pharmacist or GP practice around what is the best time to order before Christmas”.
More information on non-emergency healthcare services is available at www.choosebetterlincs.co.uk or go to www.nhs.uk for a list of pharmacies.