The NHS trust which manages the Lister Hospital in Stevenage has said today the hospital is under extreme pressure due to the number of very sick patients needing to be admitted.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust issued a statement this afternoon asking people not to go to A&E unless it is a “life or limb-threatening” emergency, or unless they have been advised to go there by a healthcare professional.

The NHS trust says it is working very closely with its colleagues in community and social care to do everything possible to ensure patients attending Lister get the care they need.

At the same time, it is making sure that people who are well enough can be discharged home or on to the next stage in their care.

Across the country, the NHS is under similar pressure leading NHS England to order hospitals to postpone routine appointments and surgery to focus on urgent cases.

The NHS trust issued a statement saying: “We are prioritising the welfare of the very sickest patients who need immediate life-saving care, and have brought in all available additional staff to help, in line with locally agreed winter plans.

“Anyone coming to Lister’s emergency department with a minor illness or injury is very likely to face a very long wait.

“Please use alternative services and keep A&E for those who are gravely ill or injured.”

People who have an urgent need for medical advice have three options:

• Speak to a local pharmacist; many pharmacies have private consulting rooms

• Call NHS 111 – a free 24/7 service accessible from any phone, where you can get advice over the phone from a range of clinicians

• Consult the online NHS Choices website –