South London hospitals were hit by their busiest Monday of the year this week with more than 1,000 people coming through their doors.

It has led to warnings that they are “busier than ever” and calls for patients to think carefully about whether they go to hospital.

The high demand at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier’s hospitals is equivalent to around one person every 90 seconds coming in.

It hit the hospitals on Monday, the same day junior doctors started the first day of the 72-hour strike.

For Epsom and St Helier, which are run by the same hospital trust, it is just the second time in 2023 that more than 500 people have come to the emergency department on a Monday.

While St George’s Hospital saw 475 through the doors of the emergency department.

Dr Richard Jennings, group chief medical officer for St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group, said: “Our hospitals are busier than ever, and Monday was a challenging day for everyone.

"We’ve worked very hard to prepare for these strikes, but it’s inevitable that services across our hospitals are affected.

“We are always here for those who need care – and if it’s an emergency or life-threatening, or you have an appointment, you must continue to come forward.

"But to everyone else, I make this plea: use our services wisely, and help us to ensure we can provide care to those who are most in need.”

The hospitals are advising anyone who needs care but it is not an emergency to visit NHS 111 online or their local pharmacy as the first port of call.