PATIENTS across Wearside are being urged to choose the right NHS service amid a rise in hospital admissions.
Hospitals are reporting an increase in people suffering from chest pains and breathing problems.
NHS chiefs are asking Wearsiders to ensure they choose the right health service to help treat their condition.
Dr Tricia Cresswell, deputy medical director at NHS North East, said: “Services have been busy since the turn of the new year and we want to remind people across the North East how to access the right help and support from their local NHS so that essential A&E and 999 services can concentrate on serious emergencies.
“GPs, as always, should be the first port of call for treatment if you have an injury or illness that just won’t go away. However, a well-stocked medicine cabinet can deal with many minor ailments and injuries. Local high street pharmacies are also a good source of advice on illnesses and the right medicines.
“People can also check their symptoms online at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or by calling NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
“If you live in County Durham you can now call the new free NHS 111, whatever time of day or night, if they need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency.”
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland said: “This is one of the busiest times of year for hospitals and it is crucial that patients choose the appropriate care, so we are able to deal with our normal workload and the additional emergencies that always arise at this time of year.
“Patients should make use of pharmacies and their own GPs for minor ailments, as well as the local minor injuries units and NHS Direct, so our A&E departments at the Royal and Eye Infirmary are able to handle the more serious cases that require urgent treatment.”