East London hospitals look set to face an "extremely busy" winter as accident and emergency attendance skyrockets.

NHS North East London (NEL) warned that its hospitals are expected to be extremely busy after more than 160,000 people attended A&E between January and December in 2023.

This marked a 20,000 increase on the year prior, according to NHS NEL, which covers Barking and Dagenham, the City of London, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

General Practice (GP) appointments have been suggested as a "quicker" alternative by the body, which said almost a million are available at its surgeries.

Dr Jagan John, GP and board member at NHS NEL, said: "Our A&Es are extremely busy, and you will often get quicker, more appropriate help from your GP."

Dr Michael Kim, consultant in emergency medicine at Barts Health NHS Trust, added: "Our teams continue to work hard to ensure patients are seen with dignity and respect, and treated as quickly as possible but wait times can be high."

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Romford Recorder: East London hospitals are bracing for an 'extremely busy' winterEast London hospitals are bracing for an 'extremely busy' winter (Image: NHS North East London)

People in north east London have various options.

GP appointments can be arranged every month on weekdays between 8am and 6.30pm.

Nearly two-thirds of these are provided on the same day or next day after booking, the body said.

Urgent GP appointments will also be provided on weekday evenings and at weekends.

These are available across north east London throughout the festive period, including on all three bank holidays: Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year's Day.

If your surgery is closed you can book these appointments by calling NHS 111, the body added.

Havering and Barking and Dagenham residents can get help with minor injuries and illnesses at community urgent treatment centres (UTCs) at Barking Community Hospital and Harold Wood Polyclinic from 8am to 9pm all week.

People can call NHS 111 to book an appointment or walk in and wait to be seen.

The body has reminded people to make sure they have enough medication to last them over the Christmas holidays and to pick up repeat prescriptions in good time.

Additionally, pharmacists are open late and at weekends and bank holidays, including late night branches which can be found at nhs.uk/service-search/pharmacy/find-a-pharmacy