NHS bosses are urging people to use their alternative services including pharmacy and GPs over the Easter bank holiday rather that turning up to A&E.
The appeal comes as ward 17 at Scunthorpe hospital closes to new admissions following an outbreak of Norovirus.
People are urged to not turn up to hospital if they are experiencing diarrhoea and/or vomiting symptoms, until at least 48 hours after it has cleared.
Both Scunthorpe and Grimsby hospitals are experiencing high levels of demand with additional staff working over the weekend.
Karen Griffiths, chief operating officer at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have put plans in place to support the delivery of urgent care over the bank holiday period and are working closely with our colleagues in primary care, community care, social care and the voluntary sector. Our plans include rostering additional staff and creating extra capacity on some of our wards.
“We are already experiencing very high levels of demand as some of our neighbouring hospitals are dealing with a surge of patients attending their emergency departments. We would therefore ask people to think carefully about their situation before deciding to go to A&E, which is really only suitable for very serious accidents and life-threatening emergencies.”
Accident and emergency departments should only be used by an individual that:
Has severe chest pain
Has a fever and is persistently lethargic despite having paracetamol or ibuprofen
Has a head injury and vomiting
Has heavy blood loss
Is having difficulty breathing (breathing fast, panting or are very wheezy)
Has severe abdominal pain
Has a cut that won’t stop bleeding or is gaping open
Has a leg or arm injury and can’t use the limb
Has swallowed poison or tablets
Has an object lodged in the nose or ear.
Mr Ajay Chawla, clinical director of accident and emergency at Scunthorpe hospital, said it was also important for people to remember that A&E was not an alternative to seeing a GP: “It is not appropriate for people to turn up at our door simply because they cannot get an immediate appointment with their GP.
“A&E doctors are specialists in accidents and emergencies and they have not had GP training. There is a strong possibility that such patients will be redirected to the GP surgery if that is the place to obtain the best care.”
Mr Oltunde Ashaolu, clinical director of accident and emergency at Grimsby hospital, said: “We constantly work to maintain a very high standard of care for all emergency situations. The community can help by seeking the appropriate point of care provision when the complaint is not serious or life threatening.”
There are many alternatives that people could turn to for example:
A well-stocked first aid and medicine cabinet can deal with grazes, sore throats, runny noses and other minor ailments
For people unsure who to turn to for help, they could contact NHS 111 available at all times throughout the day and night in Goole and North Lincolnshire. Calls to 111 are free from all phones. In North East Lincolnshire people can contact the NHS advice line on (01472) 256222
If someone has an upset stomach, head lice, painful cough or headache then a trip to the local pharmacist or chemist could help as they provide confidential, expert advice for a range of common illnesses and complaints
GPs are the first point of contact for an illness or injury that is getting worse or won’t go away, such as a persistent cough, ear pain or backache
Goole and District Hospital’s minor injury unit is ideal for people with minor injuries like minor cuts, sprains, strains, minor burns and wounds.