Published on: 30 July 2021

Frontline NHS teams in South Tyneside and Sunderland are urging people to do their bit and use health services sensibly, as they continue to deal with significant pressures from COVID-19 and high numbers of people attending emergency care.

Over the past few weeks, South Tyneside and Sunderland have seen some of the highest rates of community infections of COVID-19 in the whole country. Although these are now reducing, they still remain high, as does the number of people in hospital with confirmed COVID-19. In addition, the Trust is also seeing record numbers of people coming into its two emergency departments at South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is asking people to support its staff during this challenging period by not coming into its emergency departments unless they have a serious or life-threatening condition. Alternative services, such as local pharmacies, GP practices and 111 online should be the first port of call for minor illnesses or injury.

Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director at the Trust said: “We are always here if people need us but we are seeing people in our emergency (A&E) departments that could have been cared for more appropriately elsewhere. So we would urge people to think pharmacy, GP and 111.

“Those that do turn up to our emergency departments will of course be assessed clinically by a member of our team, but will be re-directed to a more appropriate service for their needs or face a very long wait if they don’t need emergency care.

“By thinking of alternative services people will be doing their bit to keep emergency services for those that really need it. You will also be supporting our fantastic teams, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

“Please remember that NHS 111 online or by calling NHS 111 you can make direct appointments at GP surgeries, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres with additional GP appointments available during evenings and weekends. Your GP or nurse practitioner may ask to speak to you over the telephone in the first instance, but will make a face to face appointment with you if they feel you need to be seen.”

STSFT is also urging people to get their COVID-19 vaccination and continue to wear a mask in busy indoor spaces, such as shops and on public transport. Regular handwashing and social distancing also helps to reduce the spread of the virus.

The public has shown amazing support for the NHS during the pandemic and can continue to do so by remembering:

  • To think pharmacy, GP and 111 online or telephone first. Only attend A&E or call 999 if you have serious or life-threatening emergencies.
  • If you suspect you have COVID-19 stay at home and get a test by calling 119 or visiting You cannot access testing through A&E or GP surgeries.
  • If you are visiting any of our healthcare settings, please remember to wear a face covering, use our handwashing and alcohol gel facilities.
  • Please attend appointments on your own, where possible, to limit the number of people on site and reduce the risk of infection to other patients and NHS staff.
  • Please keep your hospital, clinic or GP appointment. If you can’t make it, do let us know so we can offer that appointment to others.