THE NHS in the North-East is urging people to use A&E and emergency services for serious and life-threatening illnesses or injuries only.

Figures for the region, covering the North-East and North Cumbria, show A&E departments see a spike in patients with minor ailments and injuries.

Most common illnesses or injuries seen are sunburn, coughs and colds, sickness and diarrhoea, sprains and strains, and bites and stings which can be dealt with at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet or with a trip to a pharmacist.

Professor Chris Gray, medical director for NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said:

“Most people would be surprised to know that A&E departments are just as busy, sometimes busier, over summer than winter.”

In 2016 A&E attendances across County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust stood at 11,688 in July compared to 10,548 in January this year.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust saw 8,210 patients in July 2016 compared to 7,079 in January this year, while figures for South Tees NHS Foundation Trust stood at 11,692 and 9,843 in the same time periods.

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For further help call NHS 111 or, for persistent illness, make an appointment with a GP.