Hospital is still stretched to its limit as unprecedented numbers of people seek help at A&E

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Bedford Hospital is still feeling the strain of unprecedented numbers of people visiting A&E.

People are being urged not to visit the casualty department unless it is a real emergency and to instead use other services such as GPs, pharmacists and walk-in medical centres.

Yesterday (Tuesday), a ‘significant incident’ was declared at the hospital and all routine surgery along with a range of outpatient and diagnostic clinics were cancelled to free up resources for those most in need.

Bedford GP and vice chairman of Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Peter Parry Okeden said: “The A&E departments at our hospitals only have the capacity to treat people who have serious, life-threatening or dangerous conditions. Ambulances should only be called in genuine emergencies. If you use emergency services incorrectly you are risking the lives of others and won’t get the best treatment for your illness.”

The following options are available for non-emergency health help:

>Visit www.nhs.uk for advice.

>Visit a pharmacist.

>Attend a walk-in centre. The nearest is at 93 Queens Drive, Putnoe, Bedford, MK41 9JE and is open daily from 8am to 6.30pm. Call 01234 221977.

>Make an appointment with your GP.

>Call NHS 111, for free, around the clock help when it’s urgent but not a life-threatening 999 situation.