People in Northumberland are being urged to stay away from A&E unless they are seriously unwell or in need of critical or life-saving care.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is reminding people who are not seriously ill to seek alternatives wherever possible and make use of local pharmacists, NHS 111 and urgent care centres.
The plea follows a surge in demand for services at The Northumbria hospital near Cramlington and high numbers of very sick patients requiring treatment.
As a result, people attending with minor illnesses and injuries are likely to face a long wait as teams prioritise those with most immediate needs.
Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are currently experiencing intense pressure at The Northumbria hospital and are appealing to the public for their help.
“Please only come to A&E if you seriously unwell or in need of critical or life-saving treatment to enable our teams to concentrate on caring for those who need our help most.
“There is plenty of help readily available for those who are not in immediate need. Your local pharmacist has a wealth of knowledge and NHS 111 is always a good port of call for urgent medical advice.
“It’s also worth remembering that waiting times are considerably shorter at our urgent care centres, with patients being seen much sooner for non-life threatening conditions than if they went to The Northumbria hospital.”