Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford has urged patients to stay away from its Accident and Emergency ward because of significant demand.

Patients are being told to use other services it ease the pressures the A&E are facing this winter.

This is not the first time the hospital has had to campaign for patients to go elsewhere, and winter is traditionally a period where hospitals are busiest.

A hospital spokesman said: " Please only come to the Emergency Department if you have sustained a serious injury or are in need of emergency care. We would ask you to first consider whether your condition could be dealt with more appropriately and faster at one of the alternatives listed below.

"Thank you for your continued support and understanding. Please also bear with us when telephoning or visiting the hospital as our staff are busy caring for our patients and may not be able to speak to you immediately."

Hospitals across the county have been told to cancel all non-urgent operations after the hectic festive period.

In a drastic step to try to free up hospital staff and beds, NHS England said the deferral of non-urgent inpatient elective care should be extended until January 31.

In October, a man admitted himself to Darent Valley A&E because he thought he had a vein problem. After an inspection, it was found his issue was actually a leaking pen.

Last winter there were on average 336 patients a day, compared to 266 in the same period the year before.

To avoid using Darent Valley A&E, here is a list of other services:

Gravesend GP Walk-in Centre, Whitehorse Surgery NHS, Vale Road, Northfleet, Gravesend, Kent, DA11 8BZ. Open seven days a week 8.00am-8.00pm. Call 0300 0300 000

Medway GP Walk-in Centre, Ground floor, Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Balmoral Gardens, Gillingham, ME7 4PN, Phone: 01634 331177. Open 365 days of the year

Gravesham Community Hospital is open from 8am until 8pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at Queen Mary's Hospital, Frognal Avenue, Sidcup, Kent DA14 6LT. Tel: 0208 308 5611. This is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Erith Urgent Care Centre, Erith & District Hospital, Hind Crescent. Open Monday to Sunday 8.00am to 10.00pm

Woolwich Urgent Care Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Stadium Road , London, Greater London, SE18 4QH

You can also get free advice by phoning 111.