THE ORGANISATION that runs Hampshire's hospitals are urging people to stay away from A&E if their symptoms are not an emergency.

Emergency departments in the region are particularly busy at the minute, according to Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as they try to deal with the rise in demand over the winter months.

The trust, which runs Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, Andover War Memorial Hospital and Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, said in a post on Twitter last night that they have seen a rise in the number of people with sickness, diarrhoea and flu-like symptoms attending A&Es.

Julie Maskery, chief operating officer, said: "Our emergency departments are particularly busy at the moment.

“We have recently seen a lot of people with sickness and diarrhoea or flu-like symptoms attending our emergency departments. In the majority of cases, these symptoms are not an emergency and should be treated at home, using non-prescription medicines available from a local pharmacy.

“By coming into hospital unnecessarily, you not only divert doctors and nurses away from very sick patients, you may also spread the virus you have to other people. You also run the risk of picking up additional viruses yourself, which you could then pass on to those close to you.

“Think carefully about whether your illness is an emergency before you come to the emergency department – and if you are unsure, dial 111 or visit for free advice.”

The NHS website says that people should only attend A&E in "genuine life-threatening emergencies", which includes:

  • loss of consciousness
  • acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
  • chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • severe allergic reactions
  • severe burns or scalds
  • stroke
  • major trauma such as a road traffic accident

It says that less severe injuries should be treated in urgent care centres or minor injuries. It adds that for advice, go to your GP, or if it is closed, call 111 or go to