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Use A&E and 999 for life threatening conditions only

NHS urgent appeal to public to use A&E and 999 for life threatening conditions only

Emergency and urgent care centres in the North East and North Cumbria will remain open as industrial action takes place by Royal College of Nursing staff on Tuesday 20 December and by GMB, Unite and Unison ambulance staff on Wednesday 21 December and by GMB ambulance staff on 28 December.

NHS leaders are reminding the public to only use accident and emergency and 999 if their condition is life threatening.

Dr Neil O'Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, said: "Please only use 999 and accident and emergency departments for life threating injuries and illnesses. If you need advice for an every-day illness or injury, please either contact your local pharmacy for help or look at the self-care advice that’s available on-line from the NHS at www.nhs.uk.

"You can also check your symptoms, using the on-line symptom checker available at www.111.nhs.uk, which will re-direct you to a health professional if you need to be seen by someone. If your symptoms persist and you are not getting better, please contact your GP practice for advice."

"We do have plans in place during the industrial action with support being prioritised for those who are most poorly. We are expecting services to be busy, and this is likely to lead to long delays for non-urgent treatment – please use NHS services sensibly."

Patients are encouraged to attend appointments unless they hear otherwise ahead of the second nurses strike (20 December) which is affecting three NHS hospital trusts in the region.

Industrial action by the Royal College of Nursing will affect three NHS hospital trusts in the region - Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Newcastle Hospitals and those run by Northumbria Healthcare.

For further guidance on the industrial action, visit the NHS England website.

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