PEOPLE across the district are being urged to only use A&E in genuine emergencies over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

NHS bosses say bank holidays are often busy times for hospitals.

And they warn that although Accident & Emergency departments are open 24/7 and staffed by experts trained to deal with any situation, large numbers of people through the doors can put additional pressure on services.

Anyone seeking urgent medical advice, but unsure whether to go to A&E, is encouraged to consider other avenues of help – such as the NHS 111 service or, in some cases, by making a GP appointment.

Professor Chris Gray, a medical director for the NHS in the north-east and Yorkshire, said: “We want people to enjoy their weekend, and not spend it in A&E if it can be avoided.

“Many GPs have extended hours of opening and pharmacists across the region are open for business over the bank holidays, but please make sure you order your prescriptions before the holiday weekend.

“Whilst everyone likes to have fun on the long weekends, we would ask people to please do so responsibly, especially if you are drinking. Don’t let a night of fun become a night at your local A&E.

“If people need advice for something serious, the NHS 111 service provides guidance from qualified clinicians and in some cases can even make a GP appointment direct. For most people, this will mean quicker treatment than attending an A&E department.”

People can call their GP outside normal surgery hours, but will usually be directed to an out-of-hours service.

The out-of-hours period is 6.30pm to 8am weekdays, and all day at weekends and on bank holidays.

Anyone with a minor health concern is advised to visit a pharmacy as a first port of call.

Pharmacists can offer expert information and advice on common medications, illnesses and injuries. Details of pharmacy bank holiday opening hours can be found at

People can also use NHS walk-in centres and minor injury units, which deal with the likes of infections and rashes, blood pressure checks and lacerations.

Anybody who experiences a genuine life-threatening emergency – such as loss of consciousness, fits that are not stopping or persistent chest pain – should call 999 immediately.