Royal Surrey County Hospital’s accident and emergency department had one of its busiest ever days this week, placing staff and patients under “extreme pressure”.

The 33 per cent surge in people in A&E prompted the Guildford hospital to issue a plea to only attend in cases of life-threatening situations or serious injury.

A cold snap over the weekend led the hospital to expect higher attendances than normal but the massive spike in people turning up to A&E on Monday, December 4, still took staff by surprise.

The following day, the Royal Surrey Hospital Trust put out a call for help, asking people to stay away if at all possible.

In a post on social media, the hospital trust wrote: “We need your help. Our A&E is currently under extreme pressure.

“Please only attend if it’s an emergency, such as a life-threatening situation or a serious injury.

“Use to find the best place to get the care you need.”

On average 220 visit A&E at Royal Surrey every day, on Monday that figure jumped to 293.

Dr Bill Jewsbury, medical director at Royal Surrey said: “Following the cold snap we have had record attendances to our emergency department. 

“I would like to thank our staff for their hard work in treating our patients as quickly and efficiently as possible and also thank our patients for their understanding. 

“Please do bear with us in this busy period and if you are not seeking life-saving treatment, please do call or visit NHS 111 online to find the most appropriate place to be seen.

 “I would also ask for family members of our inpatients to prepare any additional measures they might need to put into place to support their loved one when they return home. 

“This will help us avoid delays to our discharges and will allow us to use beds for those at the greatest clinical risk.”