Health advice by Professor Jane Eddleston, Greater Manchester medical executive lead for acute care:
“The first day back after the Christmas break is always busy for NHS services but today has been beyond anything we have experienced before.
“We are making an urgent plea to the public in Greater Manchester to only call 999 or attend accident and emergency departments if their condition is a life-threatening emergency.
“Unprecedented levels of attendance at A&E, staff sickness and increased prevalence of flu and Covid have led to very long waits in emergency departments and for ambulances. We urge the public to use alternative services to make use of NHS 111 online and phone services (111 online is for people aged 5 and over). Accessing NHS 111 online, contacting your GP, or attending your local pharmacist will mean you get treatment much sooner. GP practices and pharmacies are open as normal between Christmas and new year.
“As we head into the new year we also urge anyone experiencing flu or Covid-like symptoms to stay at home, so that you do not pass on your infection on to others. Both can be serious illnesses, so please take the necessary precautions to protect your loved ones, particularly those who are vulnerable, including getting your vaccines if you are eligible.”