PEOPLE are being urged to only call 999 in an "absolute emergency" as Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital battles to cope with unprecedented pressures.

A number of planned operations have been cancelled following a surge in patients attending the emergency department.

Medical director Dr Stuart Walker said: "We have been very busy at Musgrove over the last few weeks.

"We have seen a 10 per cent increase in emergency department attendances compared with last year.

"We saw two records at Musgrove last week - 117 emergency admissions on Wednesday and 116 patients arriving by ambulance on Thursday.

"We have a high number of patients with respiratory problems."

A spokesman said no figures for cancelled operations were available, adding: "Everyone who has been cancelled has been personally notified. No cancer patients have been cancelled."

People are asked to treat colds, flu or minor illnesses with over-the-counter remedies from their local pharmacist; if you need medical attention quickly, make an urgent same-day appointment to see your GP; if you become ill overnight, call NHS 111 to access the GP out-of-hours urgent care; minor injuries can be treated at units in community hospitals in Minehead, Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Frome, West Mendip Hospital and Shepton Mallet.