People are being asked to stay away from Cornwall's hospital emergency department this half term following a spike in admissions in the run up to the holiday.

As a result, NHS staff are asking local people and holidaymakers to use alternative services if they need urgent but not emergency care.

Dr Toby Slade, ED consultant at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, said: "The rise in admissions isn’t related to coronavirus or holidaymakers, but we are seeing more poorly people, particularly elderly patients, who need our care.

"Many are also needing to stay longer in hospital which ultimately means more pressure on our emergency department and longer waits to be seen.”

He added that with more people likely to be heading to the county over the next few days. the hospital wanted to remind residents and those coming to stay to first call their own GP, even if they are here on holiday, when they need care for something that’s urgent by not serious or life-threatening.

Outside of GP surgery hours they should go online to or call 111 for advice on the best place for their care.

Using the 111 First service will mean that if someone does need to go to a minor injury unit or the emergency department, the teams there will know they are coming and can manage their arrival.

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“The capacity in our waiting rooms is much less due to social distancing guidance,” added Toby, “so by using your GP or the 111 First service people can help us to keep everyone safe and reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

"We’re doing really well in Cornwall to keep levels of the virus low and need the continued support of patients by using the right services and not coming to our emergency department unless they really need to.”

Cornwalll's hospitals are also calling for families who might be able to offer support to a relative to go home from hospital sooner when they are medically fit, but just need a little extra support with basic needs such as cooking, washing and dressing.

“If people can provide this help for their relatives, it’ll mean we can free up beds in our hospitals for new emergencies and safely look after all of those who need our specialist care and support," said Dr Slade.