THURROCK residents are being urged to only go to A&E in emergencies over the festive period, to help hospitals cope.
NHS chiefs have said people should treat themselves at home and only go to A&E if “absolutely necessary” during the holiday period – when demand tends to be at its highest.
Although patients are unable to access community services such as GPs, they have been advised to use alternatives such as the NHS 111 phone line and pharmacies if possible.
NHS England is also advising everyone to keep homes properly heated and to watch out for neighbours and elderly relatives.
Doctors have also asked people to stock up on painkillers and cough syrups to avoid needless trips to the hospital.
The advice comes as hospitals have been struggling to cope with demand. Last year the NHS responded to the highest ever number of A&E attendances, 111 calls, ambulance calls, and emergency admissions in NHS history, according to official NHS data.