THE NHS has stated all of its urgent and emergency care services are continuing to run as normal across the North-East, but are “extremely busy”.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is also experiencing pressures and is asking people to consider carefully whether they need to dial 999.

Paul Liversidge, chief operating officer at NEAS, said: “As an emergency service, we don’t stop for any weather and in the past 36 hours we have attended 1,286 incidents and answered 1,638 emergency 999 calls and 2,785 NHS 111 calls.

“Our priority right now is the safety of our staff and patients travelling in adverse weather conditions.  We are prioritising our resources to those patients who are critically ill – please bear with us if it takes us a little longer to access areas with heavier snow or traffic disruption.

“We have cancelled some scheduled patient transport bookings for patients with routine hospital appointments so that we can ensure our service for critically ill patients and hospital discharges is undisturbed.”

Different parts of the region experiencing worse weather than elsewhere is affecting the ability of some NHS staff to travel to hospitals, practices or other services.

Disruption has been caused through staffing, impacting on some non-urgent hospital outpatient appointments and non-urgent operations or procedures being delayed.

Affected hospitals are contacting patients as soon as possible, however any patient who is unsure whether their appointment is going ahead should call the hospital to check.

Anyone in need of urgent medical help or advice can call the NHS 111 number.