That's the message from Hilary Lloyd, chief nurse at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as she urges visitors not to come to hospitals if they are unwell.
The trust runs The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, along with three primary care hospital wards and local community NHS teams.
Helping protect your loved ones
Hilary said: “Let’s spread the love this Christmas…not bugs. Our amazing NHS staff are under immense pressure and doing a fantastic job caring for seriously ill people, but they need your support more than ever before.
“If you’re not feeling well, please don’t visit our hospitals and risk passing your germs
“We know it’s difficult to stay away from visiting a loved one, especially at Christmas, but if you’re ill, you will help protect our patients and staff by staying at home.”
If you have sickness and diarrhoea, stay at home and avoid close contact with others for 48 hours after your symptoms clear, wash your hands with soap and water and don’t prepare food for others.
Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as food poisoning, diarrhoea, flu and COVID-19.
Attending your appointment
Hilary added: “Please check with us before coming in for your hospital appointment if you have symptoms and please stay clear of accident and emergency (A&E) unless it’s serious or life-threatening.
“Please be assured, if you’re worried about your health, don’t delay, your NHS wants to see you. Help us help you get the care you need this winter by choosing the most appropriate level of care for your health needs.”
Receiving the right care
Rather than immediately visiting A&E, there are several suitable alternatives for patients across Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Hambleton and Richmondshire.
Many health problems could be better and faster managed by using self-care, primary care services such as GPs, pharmacists, or by calling NHS 111 or using NHS 111 online.
For any injuries and illnesses that require urgent care but are not life-threatening, Friarage Hospital’s urgent treatment centre (UTC) is open 24/7 and the UTC at Redcar Primary Care Hospital is open from 8am to 9.30pm, seven days a week throughout the festive period, including bank holidays.