While nearby hospitals have been overwhelmed by the increase in people attending A&E, Epsom and St Helier hospital departments are still coping.

The trust today described the pressure on its A&E departments as "unprecedented and challenging" but said they are still managing to cope with the influx of patients.

Nine hospitals across the country, including Croydon University Hospital, have now declared major incidents due to exceptional pressure on their A&Es and there were reported six hour waits at Kingston Hospital on Sunday.

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals have announced they are under "severe pressure" and asked for people to only come to A&E in a real emergency.

The trust said: "Non-emergency patients are likely to have an extremely long wait and could be taking staff away from caring for patients who need emergency or life-saving care."

But a spokesman for Espom and St Helier said: "Whilst the pressure on our A&E departments is unprecedented and challenging, we are coping with the demand and the trust is neither in crisis or in a major incident situation."

December: Doctor at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals says think twice before going to A&E

The hospitals have been particularly busy so far this winter and on several days last month staff dealt with nearly 30 per cent more patients than on the same date last year.

On December 1 there were 476 attendees, up from 370; on December 10 there were 447, up from 346; and on December 15 there were 506 attendees, up from 398.

Over the whole month 13,044 people went to the A&E departments, compared to 11,864 in December 2013 - a rise of almost 10 per cent.

Figures published today also show the NHS in England has not met its four-hour A&E waiting time target for the first time since the standard was introduced a decade ago.

From October to December 2014, only 92.6 per cent of A&E patients were treated within the required four hours. The target is 95 per cent.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said hospital bosses feel they are "running just to keep still" to cope with rising demand. He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "There is a huge amount of pressure, that's absolutely clear."

But he added: "I think we also have to recognise, despite the particular pressures, despite the major incidents - and you always get some major incidents at this time of year - that the NHS is continuing to see in A&E departments nine out of 10 people within the four-hour target."

In the immediate run up to Christmas the NHS treated 446,500 A&E attendees, up 38,000 on the same week last year.

Last year Jeanette Ellis, deputy general manager in medicine with a focus on A&E at Epsom and St Helier hospital trust, said the average number of attendances at Epsom A&E were 120 a day five years ago.

In December 2013 the Epsom Guardian reported that this figure had risen to 150 to 160 a day but on a particularly busy day it could be 200.

Have you been affected by the unprecedented pressure on A&Es? 

Please leave a comment below or email alice.foster@london.newsquest.co.uk