Monday, 1.35pm: Hospitals in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire are facing record levels of demand from the public, health chiefs have warned.
The alarm has been sounded by the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is urging people with medical problems to think before visiting hospital emergency departments.
Dr Neil Modha, the group’s chief clinical officer, warned: “We’re seeing unprecedented demand at our hospitals across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
“Attendances at emergency departments in particular are up in every hospital and all hospitals have patients who are awaiting discharge but require health or social care in the community.
“Social care and community health services are also under pressure as they support increasingly more complex patients in the community to enable people to retain their independence and avoid hospital admissions or leave hospital earlier where clinically appropriate.”
According to figures released by the CCG, the total number of people who have visited A&E departments across all county hospitals this month up to Sunday, is 17,141. That is up from 15,504 for the same period last year - a surge of 10.56 per cent.
The figures show the pattern has been the same for each month from May this year. In May, the number of people visiting A&E departments across the county was 26,433 - up 10.47 per cent from 23,928 in May last year.
Dr Modha added: “This is a challenge for the NHS under huge stress – but we want to reassure patients that all NHS leaders are working together to manage this exceptionally busy time and ensure that patient care remains high quality throughout.
“We are asking that the public consider where they go when they are feeling unwell and only use A&E or 999 when they are acutely unwell or have a life-threatening condition.
“The public can see their GP, or use the local Minor Injury or Illness units or walk-in centres.
He said: “If their GP practice is closed they should contact the Out of Hours GP service first (by calling 111), or seek advice from a local pharmacist who are also there to help.
“If people are not sure where best to go they should call NHS 111 and will receive advice and direction about the best place to be seen.”
A spokeswoman for Peterborough City Hospital said: “We have been extremely busy but the pressures have eased a bit today.
“However, we do think pressures on the hospital will increase during Christmas and New Year.”
Last month the hospital was put on black alert and some planned operations were cancelled after a surge in the number of emergency admissions.