South west Essex health experts are urging people to stop and think before going to A&E.
A major incident at Southend Hospital on 13 December has led to increased demand at Basildon University Hospital and other hospitals.
Basildon Hospital is continuing to be exceptionally busy and is asking people not to attend their A&E unless their condition is serious or life-threatening.
Basildon and Brentwood CCG is supporting the hospitals by urging people to seek help from their local pharmacy or GP at the first sign of illness, such as a cough or cold, that can lead to more serious symptoms if left untreated.
For anyone unsure of which service is the right one for their illness or injury, the NHS Choices website provides a symptom checker and information on how best to treat a wide range of less urgent problems. NHS Choices also has a search facility for local pharmacies, minor injury units and GP surgeries, including opening hours.
People with minor illnesses and lesser injuries should seek help and advice from their local pharmacist or GP.
Orsett Minor Injuries Unit is also open from 10am-7.30pm, seven days a week with more information on the Minor Injuries Unit available at http://www.nelft.nhs.uk/services-bsbwtk-minor-injuries-unit
NHS 111 is the number to call when you need medical help fast but it is not an emergency.
We would remind everyone that hospital A&E departments are for serious and life-threatening injuries and conditions only. If you are in any doubt, please call NHS 111 – calls are answered by trained advisors who will assess your symptoms and direct you to the appropriate source of support.
Date: 13 December 2016