Hospital bosses have opened more beds to cope with demand after a sharp increase in patients attending A&E.

Health chiefs have put out an urgent call for people to stay away from A&E unless necessary after the number of people attending A&E peaked significantly over the last 48 hours.

The increase comes as people are hit with winter ailments such as respiratory conditions in the cold weather. There’s a higher-than-average number of people turning up to be seen by the doctors and more people than usual with more complex illnesses needing attention.

Kath Senior, director of nursing, performance and quality at East Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “Our absolute priority is to ensure that people are able to access the care they need in a timely way and in the most appropriate place. Waiting times are unsurprisingly higher during periods of extra pressure as we must treat the most serious cases first.

“We are encouraging people with non-emergency conditions to use alternative routes such as contacting NHS 111, their local pharmacy or GP.

“Please use the Emergency Department for emergencies only.

“Help from the public by choosing the right service at the right time will benefit everyone when you need us the most.

“The trust has opened additional beds this week to cope with the increased demand on the system. Our staff have worked extremely hard to accommodate this, working flexibly and adapting work schedules to support safe standards of care throughout this period.

“Consideration from the public will help everyone from your own families and friends to the staff who care for you when you need us the most.”

Ambulances and A&E are only for emergencies and serious accidents.

Health bosses say self-care is the best option for conditions like coughs, colds and sore throats. Pharmacists are qualified health professionals who can offer advice and medication for a wide range of conditions, with no need for an appointment and many have private consulting rooms.

If you are still unsure you can also call the NHS helpline on 111.

People are urged not to visit GPs for medicines which can be bought over the counter.

More than one in ten patients at Macclesfield Hospital should have been discharged