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January 5, 2024

Bolton NHS issues advice as Emergency Department and hospital services remain extremely busy

  • More than 1,500 Emergency Department attendances since New Year
  • Patients advised they will be re-directed if condition is not an emergency or urgent
  • A number of healthcare services available across Bolton to keep people safe and well

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust is issuing advice to people across Bolton as its Emergency Department and other hospital services continue to be extremely busy.

Record industrial action, seasonal illnesses such as viruses and sickness bugs, and people coming forward for help following Christmas and New Year, is all having a significant impact.

Since the start of the New Year, more than 1,500 people have arrived at Bolton’s Emergency Department, which is there to help in life or limb-threatening emergencies.

Although many attendances are urgent, some conditions that doctors and nurses have seen this week could have been treated elsewhere, such as:

  • Dental problems
  • Colds
  • Ear aches

Ahead of and over the weekend patients who do not require urgent treatment may be redirected to alternative health services in Bolton for treatment.

Senior leaders at the Trust are offering advice and guidance to help people get to know where the most appropriate place is for the care they need.

Dr. Francis Andrews, Medical Director at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:

When our services become extremely busy we have to prioritise looking after those patients who need our help the most.

“January often brings challenges for us and over the past few days we have seen more people arriving in our Emergency Department than we have patients being discharged from hospital back to the place they call home. This means as we head into the weekend we may have to redirect people with more minor illnesses and conditions to other health services available in Bolton.

“We understand how worrying it can be when you’re not feeling well, but it’s really important, especially at times like this, that you think carefully about where the best place is for your care and treatment.

“Our Emergency Department is open 24/7 for life threatening emergencies, and it’s really important that people continue to come forward for that care.

“NHS 111 online, GP surgeries and local pharmacies are there to help if your condition isn’t urgent, and you may even be seen sooner by making appropriate use of these services.

“Thank you for your understanding and support as we help those most in need.

Get to know where to go

NHS 111: The public can use NHS 111 Online for all non-emergency healthcare needs, in the first instance, unless the issue concerns a child under 5, when they should call 111. Deaf people or people with hearing loss can dial 18001 111 on a textphone or use the Relay UK app (which can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store). NHS 111 Online can help if:

  • You need help but don’t know who to call,
  • How to find general health information and advice,
  • You are ill and need to be told what to do next, and
  • How to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine.

 GP: GP appointments can help for illnesses or injuries that won’t go away. Many GPs offer an out-of-hours service later in the evening and early morning. If you phone your GP during this time, please listen to the answerphone message for information on how to access GP out-of-hours.

 Pharmacy: Many illnesses can also be managed safely at home, or with a trip to a local pharmacist. There are pharmacies open late in to the night and very early in the morning. Find your nearest one here: Find a pharmacy – NHS (

 Urgent dental care: The Greater Manchester Urgent Dental Care Service is available from 8am to 10pm every day including weekends for severe dental pain and infection. People can call 0333 332 3800 to be assessed by a healthcare professional, who can provide self-care advice or book a face-to-face appointment, if needed.

Urgent eye care: Free urgent eyecare is available across all 10 areas of Greater Manchester. If you have a sudden and urgent problem with your eyes, you can contact a local practice to get an appointment: NHS Greater Manchester Community Urgent Eye Care Service (CUES) – Primary Eyecare Services.

Mental health: For free urgent mental health support, people can contact one of these 24/7 helplines – they’re available to anyone of any age:

  • Bolton, Manchester, Salford, Trafford, and Wigan 0800 953 0285 (freephone).
  • Bury, Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, and Tameside 0800 014 9995 (freephone).

If there is an immediate risk of danger to life, people should ring 999.

People can also help themselves and others by

  • Ordering repeat prescriptions in plenty of time so they don’t run out of medication or other essential items.
  • Avoiding hospital if suffering Norovirus-type symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting, or with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home including painkillers and diarrhoea tablets.
  • Having the flu vaccine if eligible.
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