The Northern Trust is urging people who are feeling unwell to remember that they have choices when it comes to seeking medical advice and treatment.
Traditionally, urgent and emergency cases rise during the winter with hospitals, GPs and community nursing teams all experiencing increased workloads.
However, there is a range of healthcare services available to help people find the right expert care to meet their needs.
Picking the service most appropriate to their symptoms will help ensure that they receive the right treatment in the right place, the Trust has stressed.
Dr Ken Lowry, Medical Director at the Trust said: “Our objective is to provide the best care and treatment that we can to patients but it is vitally important that Emergency Department resources are focused on the sickest and most critically ill patients.
“We now have available very effective alternative care pathways. So if people feel unwell, I would encourage them to consult their GPs who can then decide the most appropriate pathway for them.”
As alternatives to A&E, Antrim Area Hospital has a Direct Assessment Unit and a Rapid Access Clinic. Both provide GPs with direct access to senior medical advice and consultation for medical patients.
The Health and Social Care Board has been running a ‘Choose Well’ campaign for a number of years. It encourages people to pick the service most suitable for their needs.