Dr Tony Naughton is the clinical chief officer at NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group. He is also a practising GP at The Thornton Practice.

In case you haven’t heard, which is unlikely, hospitals in England are rather busy at the moment.

The situation here on the Fylde coast is unsurprisingly similar with high demand being experienced by our colleagues at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Unfortunately, there is no obvious solution as there is a wider problem to deal with. Yes, we have too many people going to the hospital – some of whom could be better served by an alternative health service – but there isn’t enough space in social care for them to move out to.

This means people are staying in hospital longer than they need to through no fault of their own and not because the hospital isn’t doing its job quickly enough.

But we can all do our bit to help the situation by thinking carefully when we have a health problem about what service we pick to help with the problem.

I am pleased to report that over Christmas the level of A&E attendance was the same as it was last year while there was a much higher attendance at walk-in centres, which shows people are getting a better understanding of where to go.

But there are still very long waits for ambulances outside hospitals, not just in Blackpool but across the whole country, so people also need to think carefully if they need an ambulance before they ring for one.

I would urge anyone who has a health problem to work out how urgent it is. Think! Why A&E? You have a wide range of services to pick from.

And if you are not sure what you need to do, ring 111 and they will help you.

If you go to A&E and have a minor problem you might find yourself redirected elsewhere, so you may as well save yourself the trip and some time by heading straight to the most appropriate place.

If that doesn’t happen, you can guarantee you will face a long wait before you see someone.

At the end of the day it is in all our interests to make the hospital’s job as easy as possible so they can look after those people who really need it, so let’s all do our bit.