People who fall ill are being asked to carefully consider their options before heading to under-pressure hospitals.

Staff at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals want people to think about where to get help when they feel unwell while the bad weather continues.

As torrential rain and high winds continue to batter the country, more people are seeking hospital treatment, creating extra congestion in the hospitals’ accident and emergency department.

Suzanne Rankin, chief nurse at the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In order to get the best service for you and your family, you need to make sure you choose the most appropriate service. This might be your GP, a local walk-in centre or, for simple coughs and colds, the local pharmacist.

“Many people think A&E is the quick and easy option but more often than not coming to hospital emergency departments will mean longer waits, often in busy and crowded waiting rooms.

“In most cases, unless you really are an emergency, you are likely to be seen more quickly elsewhere.”

Ms Rankin suggested medicine cabinets should be stocked with basics such as Paracetamol, plasters and a thermometer, along with keeping a good supply of any regular medication.