Emergency Departments across Northern Ireland are currently experiencing very high levels of pressure, a joint statement from the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency has revealed.
In a statement released this afternoon, a spokesman for the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Public Health Agency (PHA) said: "Emergency Departments across the north of Ireland have been experiencing high levels of pressure for several days.
"The public can assist by only attending an Emergency Department if their condition is urgent, so helping to ensure that the sickest patients get the care they need.
“The HSCB and PHA are urging the public to consider other care options available to them such as their GP, nearest Minor Injury Unit or local pharmacy if their symptoms are not urgent or life threatening.
"By choosing the most appropriate service, patients will receive the right treatment in the right place and will help alleviate pressures on other urgent care services at this very busy time.
“Emergency Departments provide the highest level of emergency care for patients, especially those with sudden and acute illness or severe trauma. Patients who present at Emergency Departments will always be dealt with in order of clinical priority, so more acutely ill patients will be seen first."
The spokesman added that is was "regrettable that some people are having to wait longer to be treated in Emergency Departments or to be admitted to hospital at this time".
"The HSCB and PHA are currently working closely with all Health and Social Care Trusts to optimise the flow of patients within hospitals and will continue to monitor the situation," he added.
Further information about health and social care services in your area and the ‘Stay Well’ campaign can be found at www.nidirect.gov.uk/stay-well