PATIENTS are being warned not to attend A&E for coughs and colds over Easter.

Health bosses in Bolton are expecting a spike in A&E attendances when GP surgeries shut today until Tuesday — a common trend during bank holidays.

Last year 982 people attended A&E over the Easter weekend — Good Friday until Easter Monday — compared with 913 during a “normal” weekend in the same month.

More than half of the visits were due to minor illnesses or injuries doctors say could have been treated by a pharmacist or waited until GP surgeries reopened. The NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will not be running a pilot scheme similar to the one tested on Boxing Day when 31 practices opened to ease the pressure on A&E.

Dr Barry Silvert, clinical director for integrated commissioning at the CCG, said: “We are committed to ensuring patients are seen by the right person, at the right place and time. This is essential if we are to improve patient safety and the quality of care.

“If you, or a member of your family, are unwell over the Easter weekend your first port of call is your local pharmacy for advice and over the counter medicines.

“If you feel you need to be seen urgently, the GP out of hours service is available. There is no need for anyone to go to A&E unless their condition is serious or life threatening.”

The £36,000 Boxing Day scheme — described as “bonkers” by Bolton GP Dr Stephen Liversege — was critcised for not offering value for money.

Overall 89 patients were seen and 19 home visits were made — at a cost of £334 per patient.

The majority of patients who attended a GP surgery had colds, coughs and sore throats.

Thirteen out of more than 70 pharmacies in Bolton will open on Good Friday and Easter Monday and two will open on Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 19 is classed as a working day so pharmacies will open at their normal times.