Hospitals in the region are facing "unprecedented pressures" prompting calls for people to "think twice" before going to A&E.

NHS bosses are urging anyone that doesn't need urgent care to seek alternative treatment and to "keep A&E free for emergencies".

The statement comes amid rising Covid cases and staffing shortages at hospitals across the region.

Cath Byford, chief nurse at the NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We are urging local people to really think twice when attending A&E.

"There are many other services that can help for various ailments and injuries. By thinking of alternative services such as NHS 111 and local pharmacies people can do their bit to keep A&E for real emergencies.

"At the same time this also means they will get the right treatment in a timely manner, in the most appropriate place for them too.

“It’s vital that people don’t just turn up or walk into A&E or urgent care services without seeking advice from either NHS 111, GP or pharmacist, first – unless of course, your condition is life threatening.”

People suffering from minor illness and injuries are being asked to visit the NHS Walk-In Centre in Rouen Road in Norwich.

Patients can receive treatment for minor injuries such as wounds, burns or simple fractures at the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) based at Cromer Hospital in Mill Road.

Professor Nancy Fontaine, chief nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “Our hospital is under extreme pressure with high numbers of emergency admissions, bed occupancy and increasing Covid cases.

“Our emergency department, wards and clinical specialities are extremely busy and we may direct you to an alternative service if you turn up at ED with a condition that could be seen by a pharmacy or walk-in centre."

Bosses at the James Paget in Gorleston and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn are also asking people to make the right choice when seeking medical help.

Jacky Copping MBE, deputy director of nursing at the James Paget, added: “We encourage all our patients to make the right choice so that our busy emergency departments can care for people with urgent and emergency health needs."