South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is asking the public for its support this winter by using NHS services ‘sensibly’ and wearing a face mask in all of its buildings.
The Trust, which is currently experiencing significant pressures in both its emergency departments and seeing a large number of patients admitted into its hospitals, has issued a plea to only seek emergency care if members of the public have a serious, life threatening illness or injury.
Those coming into hospital are also asked to follow Covid measures which include wearing a face mask while indoors, washing hands regularly and keeping a distance from others.
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As the Trust comes into one its ‘busiest periods’, staffing and services are ‘increasingly stretched’ after more than a year of managing the pandemic and vaccination roll out.
Patients attending emergency departments with more minor conditions will face a long wait to be seen as the service is seeing higher numbers of patients than before the pandemic.
The Trust says those who don’t need emergency life-saving treatment will be seen but will be directed to another appropriate service if they do not need immediate care.
Similarly, patients on wards who no longer need to be treated in hospital are being discharged or moved to another community bed to free up hospital beds for those who need them most.
Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director at the Trust, said: “As we come into our busiest time of the year, we are once again asking the public for their support.
“The NHS will always be here for anyone who needs it, but we really need the public to think about which service can best help their needs.”
"Unfortunately we are still seeing regular abuse of our staff as a result of patients being directed to another service, advising patients that they no longer need a bed in hospital or simply asking patients to wear a face mask.
“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We are here to care for you, so care for us and help us to keep patients safely flowing through the hospital so we can make sure everyone gets the care they need.”