OPERATIONS have been cancelled and health bosses have urged people only to go to A&E in a genuine emergency as they struggle to cope with demand.
Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Rotherham Hospital, said it was “currently experiencing extreme pressure” and asked people to choose the right care for their symptoms.
But a senior spokesman added that only a “small number” of appointments and procedures had been scrapped, thanks to “robust planning” for winter.
NHS England ordered hospitals across the country cancel all non-urgent operations and procedures until at least February following a rise in demand.
Chris Holt, the Rotherham trust’s deputy chief executive, said: “Over recent days we have seen increased demand from patients attending our emergency department and requiring admission into hospital.
“In anticipation of such demands we have been robustly planning for a number of months to minimise the disruption to patients.
“As such, the number of scheduled appointments and procedures has already been reduced and at this stage only a small number have had to be cancelled.
“If anyone has a planned appointment or procedure, please attend as normal unless we contact you.”
Dr David Clitherow, GP lead for urgent care at NHS Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group, asked people to use their pharmacist for minor ailments and reminded patients that GP surgeries were now open from 8am until 6.30pm Monday to Friday following the festive break.
Appointments are also available on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am until 11am at certain surgeries.
Dr Clitherow said: “Most ailments and illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, aches and pains can be self-treated at home with a well-stocked medicines cabinet.
“NHS 111 and pharmacists are highly qualified to give advice on a wide range of common health problems and the beat way to treat them.
“At this time of year most people, especially children, get coughs and colds, however pharmacists can prescribe free oral paracetamol.
“The best way to look after someone with a cold or cough is to make sure they have plenty to drink and if they have a temperature, paracetamol will help.
“You do not need to visit a doctor, instead if the symptoms persist you should contact your pharmacy to get the right medicine for your illness.
“Choosing the right treatment over the next couple of weeks will help patients get better quicker and help clinicians to help those in most need of medical attention.”