ACCIDENT and Emergency Departments (A&E) across Cheshire and Merseyside are experiencing a challenging week following the May bank holiday weekend, with higher than normal levels of demand for care.

As staff continue to work through this busy period, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside is urging people to consider their options carefully when seeking urgent care, and to do their bit to help keep hospital Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments free for those who need them most.

Dr Fiona Lemmens, Deputy Medical Director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside said: “Our hospitals can often become very busy during, and immediately after, a bank holiday weekend when some other services are closed, and in the month of May we have two in quite close succession.

“The NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside has tried and tested plans to help manage these periods of high pressure, and we are working closely with all of our local NHS Trusts and other partners across health and social care to help improve hospital flow and reduce current delays to care. “Hospital staff are continuing to work exceptionally hard to ensure people get the treatment they need as quickly as possible – but they will always prioritise those with the highest clinical needs first, so we would ask for people’s patience at this time.

“The public can also help us by choosing the right service when they need help or advice. Please remember that our busy ambulance services and hospital A&E departments should only be used for life-threatening illnesses and injuries, when you think someone’s life may be at risk.

“For conditions which are less urgent, please use NHS 111 or consider visiting a local pharmacy, urgent treatment centre, or GP practice for support and advice instead.”

NHS 111 offers advice and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 111 or online at:

The NHS is also reminding patients to start planning now, ahead of the next bank holiday which falls at the end of the month (Monday 27 May), by taking three simple measures including:

• checking your medicines supply if you take any regular medication for a long-term condition, and ordering any repeat prescriptions at least seven working days before the bank holiday

• supporting the safe and timely discharge of loved ones who are ready to leave hospital, which in turn will allow someone else who needs to be admitted to get the care they need more quickly

• knowing where to go for help if you or a loved one suddenly becomes unwell over the bank holiday weekend, when your GP practice is closed – make NHS 111 your first point of call for advice.

If you need to see a health professional for advice or treatment for any minor health concerns, you can also use an NHS walk-in centre or urgent treatment centre, or drop into a local pharmacy. But do remember to check their bank holiday opening hours.

You can search for your nearest pharmacy and opening times at:

Parents and carers are also reminded that if a child is unwell, you can visit Alder Hey’s online symptom checker for advice on how to treat your child at home, and when to seek further medical help. Go to:

More information about options for urgent care is available at: