Hinchingbrooke Hospital has urged members of the public to think carefully before attending its A&E department due to “extreme pressures”.

The hospital has seen a high level of attendance over the festive period, and admits "despite its best efforts" patients have experienced delays in being assessed and treated.

This has been compounded by a significant number of patients who did not need emergency treatment and who could have sought medical help from other NHS services.

Phil Walmsley, the hospital's chief operating officer, said: "Like many hospitals in the region, we have seen a real peak in demand over the festive period. It's at these times we especially need people to make the right decision about where best to choose their place of treatment. We have had a significant number of attendances where people did not need A&E care, and they could have been seen faster at a walk-in centre or

even sought advice from their local pharmacist.

"Our concern is that those patients might prevent our clinicians from seeing a patient with more urgent needs in a timely way. It is vital that people understand when to use A&E and when to try other services."

The hospital has issued the following advice for various alternative NHS services.

A pharmacy can provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and complaints without having to wait for a GP appointment.

NHS 111: This service has been introduced to make easier to access NHS healthcare services in England. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free.

GP: This is particularly important if a person is suffering from an underlying health condition.

Walk-in-centres can treat those who have minor injuries and ailments.

INFO: The public can find out more on how to keep well and where to get expert advice at

www.nhs.uk/staywell.