The last Friday before Christmas, or #BlackFriday, is traditionally a day when many people begin their festive celebrations, often resulting in one too many drinks in some cases.
For that reason, it is often a busier night than usual for A&E staff.
But with every Friday night in A&E now a busy one 52 weeks of the year, staff reported that the number of alcohol-related attendances last night was pretty typical for a Friday.
However, Katie Mayhew, staff nurse in A&E at The James Cook University Hospital, warned staff were expecting higher than usual numbers attending the department across the extended Bank Holiday weekend – and people with minor illnesses and injuries should go elsewhere for quicker access to treatment.
“We are expecting higher than average attendances to begin from Christmas night and Boxing Day in particular is usually a very busy day in A&E,” she said.
“The night shift on Christmas night is often a very busy one.”
Sister Dawn Coulthard at The Friarage said the Northallerton hospital had also had a busy night that was fairly typical of most Fridays.
This included several alcohol-related attendances – and members of the public are being reminded to enjoy the festive season responsibly this year.
Sister Coulthard said: “Staff were certainly kept busy all night. It wasn’t horrendous, but still busy – as good as we could have expected – so hopefully the communication around choosing the right service is working.
“We’d like to encourage people to think carefully about where they need to be for treatment and to go to the right place first time.
“Be prepared and make sure you have simple analgesia [such as paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain relief] in stock and any other medications you need.”
Sister Coulthard added patients who attend A&E with minor illnesses or injuries face a long wait to be seen.
“If you come to A&E over Christmas, you are likely to be sitting in the waiting room for a long time,” she said.
“We don’t want people having to sit in A&E when they don’t need to be here over the festive season and self-care and treatment for minor illnesses at home is often the best option.”
If you’re unsure whether you need to be seen, call NHS 111 and you may be referred to an out of hours GP or A&E depending on your symptoms.
A pharmacy near you is also available across Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Hambleton & Richmondshire this festive season – even Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and you can find out where here.