Published: 17:00, 29 August 2017
Darent Valley Hospital is urging people to stay away from its A&E department as it struggles to cope with "unprecedented demand".
This afternoon the hospital feared that attendance was set to be up by around 25% compared to an average day, with its predictor forecasting 390 patients and 120 ambulances.
Normally those figures would be 300 and 80 or below respectively.
The hospital made the plea at around lunchtime today, when 110 people had already come through the door.
"If you (or your family members) have a condition that is not a serious emergency, please do NOT attend A&E," said a post on the hospital's Facebook page.
"If you choose to attend and do not have a serious / life threatening condition please be prepared for a very long wait to be seen."
Demand has subsided since then, with the hospital posting updated figures shortly after 4pm.
Its predictor is now forecasting attendances of 340 and 89 ambulances, which are both still comfortably above the average.
The latest post added: "Although we usually expect a surge of patients post Bank Holiday weekend, today was looking exceptional and we appreciate the positive response, which will help ensure we are able to care for those with serious illness or injuries in a timely manner.
"Thank you for your continued support and sharing the message about A&E and the alternatives available."
Among the alternatives the hospital recommends are to see your GP or local pharmacist, or download the NHS Health Help Now app.
The closest walk-in centre is Whitehorse Surgery NHS in Vale Road, Northfleet, which is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, and the closest Minor Injuries Units are at Gravesham Community Hospital, which is open at the same times.
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