North West Ambulance Service have fielded a surge of 999 calls over the Christmas period.

Advice has been issued for people suffering coughs and colds to check in with their pharmacist, walk-in centre or GP.

Both emergency 999 and NHS 111 numbers are currently dealing with a ‘significantly high’ demand.

NWAS said vulnerable patients can be better prioritised if those with less urgent ailments seek alternatives first.

A spokeswoman said: “During this busy festive period NWAS is doing all it can to provide a high quality service, but would be very grateful to the people of the north west if they would only call in a real emergency.

“If you are suffering with a seasonal ailment such as a sore throat or cold and are otherwise fit and well, please consider self-care first.

North West Ambulance Service stock image - Call handler
A North West Ambulance Service call handler

“This will enable the service to effectively prioritise those patients who are more vulnerable and in most need of urgent health advice and treatment.”

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust covers Cheshire West and Chester as well as Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

NHS 111 replaced NHS Direct in 2013 and provides free, non-emergency healthcare over the phone 24 hours a day.

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