The “exceptionally busy” Kingston Hospital is under such severe strain it has been forced to issue its second plea in two months for residents to avoid non-emergency visits.

The warning from the hospital was made this morning alongside the assurance that staff are working “around the clock” to ensure patients are cared for.

It comes amid claims from politicians, campaigners and senior NHS staff that service are facing a crisis due to bed shortages and declining funding across the capital.

A statement released by Kingston Hospital said: “The hospital is currently exceptionally busy and we are working around the clock to make sure all our patients get the best care in the most appropriate place.

“We are urging people to only visit A&E in a real emergency and where possible visit your local pharmacist, GP, walk in centre or minor injuries unit.”

The hospital first issued the warning in early January, with services across the country struggling to deal increasing pressure over the festive period.

One month earlier, the hospital opened a new six-bed ward in a bid to reduce pressure faced by the hospital.

The Red Cross claimed soon after that the NHS was on the verge of a “humanitarian crisis” due to overcrowded hospitals and lack of funding.