Health bosses are appealing for peoplenot to visit Accident and Emergency departments unless absolutely necessary following a seasonal surge of patients.

Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow has seen hundreds of people seeking medical help every day and the department is struggling to cope.

Yesterday, 263 people sought treatment in the A&E department.

Chair of West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Rob Gerlis, said: “We need to keep A&E for real emergencies, especially over the winter period.

“Your first point of contact for everyday illness should be your local pharmacist, 111 or GP.

“Our website has lots of information on the alternatives to A&E including a colourful map with information on all the different NHS services available in the local area, as well as details of out of hours NHS services.”

The hospital is putting in place internal measures to deal with demand and local GPs are working to help make sure patients are well enough not to need admission.

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