AIREDALE Hospital bosses are urging people not to visit the emergency department with minor ailments.

The Steeton hospital saw nearly 700 patients pass through the doors of A&E on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

And whilst many were genuine emergency cases, a number could have been dealt with by other health services.

Stacey Hunter, chief operating officer at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said some patients attended to request prescriptions or with non-urgent chronic conditions such as long-term back pain.

She added: "Many seriously-ill patients are correctly brought in for emergency treatment, however over the Christmas period there were also dozens of patients with minor injuries and illnesses coming to accident and emergency when they could have been seen at an urgent GP appointment, by a community nursing team or pharmacist.

"Even though these patients make up a relatively small proportion, they still have an impact on the resources available for those who really need them."

She advised people with minor problems to visit a pharmacy or call NHS 111 and warned that patients in the emergency department were cared for in order of the severity of their condition, so those with non-urgent injuries would face a long wait.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service also experienced high demand over the festive period, and it encouraged people to only call 999 in an emergency.

Dr David Tatham, clinical lead for urgent and emergency care at the district's clinical commissioning groups, said: "The team at Airedale General Hospital has worked incredibly hard over the festive period to provide high quality patient care. But we can all do our bit to make sure emergency services are there for those people most in need."