RESIDENTS in Wharfedale and Aireborough are being urged to only use A&E departments for real emergencies.

The plea is being made by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as it tries to manage 'significant' seasonal pressure on its hospitals.

Last week some 4,000 people attended the Emergency departments at St James’ Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary.

While many of those patients did need the expertise of the A&E teams, the Trust says others could have been seen by their GP, or at a minor injuries unit - like the one at Wharfedale Hospital, Otley - instead.

There has also been a rise in attendances at A&E from people with injuries like sprains and bruising, caused by slipping on ice.

The Trust says these too could have been dealt with at walk-in centres across Leeds, minor injuries units or through self-care.

Chief Operating Officer Professor Suzanne Hinchliffe said: "Like all hospitals across the NHS we are experiencing very significant demand for our services, especially in our emergency departments.

"A&E at LGI and St James’ are extremely busy and I would like to ask people to find alternative care, except in the case of genuine emergencies.

"If you are not seriously ill A&E may not be the best place for you to get the treatment you need and you may wait for a long time.

"Emergency medical staff are trained to deal with the most severe and life-threatening conditions.

"By seeking alternative care, you will be helping our highly trained urgent care staff to treat the patients only they can care for."

Examples of emergencies that should be seen in A&E include life-threatening conditions such as: cardiac arrest, breathing difficulties, chest pain, stroke, loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, severe burns or allergic reactions, choking, fitting and head injuries.

People who need immediate medical help in a situation where it isn’t an emergency are advised to call NHS 111 which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Minor injury units or walk-in centres, meanwhile, can help with injuries or illnesses where people cannot get a GP appointment or it is not an emergency.

Details on where to find local units can be found at at: .

The Trust is also reminding people tu sue pharmacists for advice on illnesses and medicines and to keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet for common illnesses that can be treated at home.