Published on: 4 January 2023

The region's NHS warns that pressures across A&E, urgent care and ambulance services are still at extreme levels at the start of the New Year. 

The message to patients in the North East and North Cumbria is to only call 999 or visit A&E if their condition is a threat to life or limb. Patients can expect long waits as services focus their attention on the most urgent cases.

Levels of hospital admissions due to flu and Covid are increasing so it is more important than ever to get vaccinated.

Dr Neil O'Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said:

"In common with the health and care system across the country, our A&E and ambulance services are under huge pressure.

"We are working hard to ensure that patients who need emergency care are seen as quickly as possible and are prioritising patient care as best we can based on their need.

"The risk of serious illness and hospitalisation from catching flu is very real. Hospitals and critical care units across our region are currently seeing a worrying number of patients being admitted due to the flu virus,

"It's not too late to have your flu jab and doing so will protect against severe illness and hospitalisation.

"Young children who are not likely to have come across the flu virus before, and could therefore become much more unwell, can be protected with a free flu nasal spray that is available for all children aged 2 and  3 from your local GP practice.

"Flu vaccination reduces the chance of kids and adults spreading flu to vulnerable loved ones.

"If it's not an emergency, please think about other services first, like your local pharmacy, GP or NHS 111 online."

For life-threatening emergencies like chest pains, breathing difficulties or severe loss of blood, come forward for the emergency help you need.

If you need advice for an everyday illness or injury, contact your local pharmacy or look at the self-care advice at

You can also check your symptoms at, which will re-direct you to a health professional if you need treatment.

Parents and families can also find valuable information from the Healthier Together website or app.