St Helens and Whiston hospitals is experiencing a high volume of patients, the frail and elderly, attending with serious complications of flu and respiratory illness.
It is vital that we keep our services available for those who need them most.
At this time of year, flu and the winter vomiting bug can affect many people.
For the majority of patients, although extremely unpleasant, symptoms can usually be treated at home and hospital doctors are urging people to make sure they know what to do if they get the flu or another minor illness.
Dr Kevin Hardy, medical director of St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The flu and norovirus are pretty nasty and can make people feel very ill.
“However, most people do not need hospital care for these illnesses. Emergency departments are very busy at this time of year and those attending with minor illnesses will wait, often for long periods.
“This is so we can look after patients with serious or life-threatening conditions.
“Spreading germs can also put other people at risk. We are asking the people of Merseyside to make sure they know what to do if they have flu or Norovirus.”
Sue Redfern, director of nursing at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “Keeping A&E free for people who really need it most helps us to help your loved ones.
“Our staff are working incredibly hard to look after our patients at a time of increased demand. Help support your NHS by taking this advice on board.
It is also essential, that family and friends of patients, who may be ill or have symptoms of flu or have diarrhoea and vomiting, do not visit their loved ones in hospital until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours.”
Your handy guide to flu and norovirus:
· A sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
· Aching body feeling tired or exhausted
· Dry, chesty cough
· Sore throat
· Difficulty sleeping
· Loss of appetite
· Diarrhoea or tummy pain
· Nausea and being sick
How to feel better
· Rest and sleep
· Keep warm
· Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
· Drink plenty of water
When to see your GP
· If your symptoms don’t improve after seven days
· You’re worried about your child’s symptoms
· You’re 65 or over
· You’re pregnant
· You have a long-term medical condition – for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
· You have a weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV
· Suddenly feeling sick
· Projectile vomiting
· Watery diarrhoea
How to feel better
· Drink plenty of fluids
· Take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains
· Get plenty of rest
· If you feel like eating, eat plain foods such as soup, rice, pasta and bread
· Use special rehydration drinks
When to get advice (by calling your GP or NHS 111)
· Your baby or child has passed six or more watery stools in the past 24 hours, or has vomited 3 times or more in the past 24 hours
· Your baby or child is less responsive, feverish, or has pale or mottled skin
· You or your child is showing signs of dehydration, such as persistent dizziness only passing small amounts of urine or no urine at all, or reduced consciousness – babies and elderly people have a greater risk of becoming dehydrated
· You have bloody diarrhoea
· Your symptoms haven’t started to improve after a few day
· You or your child have a serious underlying condition and have diarrhoea and vomiting
How to avoid bugs
· Wash your hands often with warm soapy water
· Sanitise surfaces
· Eat a healthy diet, try and get plenty of sleep and look after yourself
· Try and avoid those suffering with an illness
Got a bug? Protect others:
· Stay at home and avoid crowded places
· Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough (catch it, bin it, kill it)
· Don’t share towels, cups or sheets with others