Patients are being urged to use other health services as Darent Valley Hospital is under 'significant pressure' this winter.

The hospital is seeing more patients than usual for this time of year, and there is very high demand for emergency and out-of-hours services.

Patients with non life-threatening diseases are being warned there will be a long wait due to the "extremely high levels of attendance" to the hospital.

A spokesperson for Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG said: “With very cold weather on the horizon and higher than usual levels of demand, the system is under pressure and priority is being given to those patients who arrive at the hospital with urgent life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

“We are urging residents to consider their options before visiting the Emergency Department, which is currently experiencing extremely high levels of attendance.

“Patients attending with a minor illness are likely to experience an extremely long wait, with priority being given to those people who need it most."

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.

Patients can use the following alternative minor injury units and walk-in centres:

Gravesham Community Hospital: Bath Street, Gravesend, DA11 0DG. Phone: 01474 360816. Open 8am to 8pm, every day of the year.

Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital:Bell Road, Sittingbourne, ME10 4DT. Phone: 01795 418300. Open 9am to 9pm, every day of the year.

Sheppey Community Hospital: Plover Road, Minster, ME12 3LT. Phone: 01795 879100. Open 9am to 9pm, every day of the year.

GP-led Walk in Centre: White Horse GP Walk-in Centre, Vale Road, Northfleet, Kent DA11 8BZ Phone: 0300 0300 000. Open every day except Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.

The CCG in Dartford has also said patients should use 111 or the free Health Help Now app.