EMERGENCY medical staff will man special triage units in Newport and Blackwood tonight to try to keep pre-Christmas revellers with minor injuries and other health problems out of hospitals.

Such units are also being set up in Cardiff and Swansea, in a co-ordinated attempt to reduce pressure on already busy accident and emergency departments on what has been dubbed 'Black Friday'.

And Wales' top health experts have issued guidance for patients on the importance of choosing the right service to meet their needs over the festive season.

Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust staff will run the triage units, working with Gwent Police, enabling paramedics to treat minor health problems.

The Newport and Blackwood units will also be manned on the night of Thursday December 23.

The run-up to Christmas and the festive season generally are always busy times for emergency services and this year could be particularly testing due to the forecasts of severe weather conditions.

"The full range of health services are of course still available for everyone who need them, but it is important that people go to the right place," said Wales' chief medical officer Dr Tony Jewell.

"By choosing well, patients will receive the best and quickest care, leaving emergency services able to help those who need them most, especially at a time when weather conditions could be a factor.

"It is also important you know the opening hours of your GP and pharmacists, especially if you take regular medication. Check now that you have enough to last over Christmas, and also in case bad weather hits and you are unable to get out.

"If you are feeling unwell and you are not sure what to do, in the first instance log on to the website at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 and speak to a nurse adviser for information and advice, available 24 hours a day, every day. "

Ambulance service bosses are also urging people to think carefully about whether they need to call 999.