EMERGENCY departments are busy, hospitals are crowded and only attend if you are experiencing serious illness - that’s the message from Aneurin Bevan University Health Board as health boards across Wales declare critical incidences.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in north Wales has told the BBC it faces “unprecedented demand”, while Swansea Bay Health Board has declared an “internal critical incident".

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which serves Newport and the Gwent area, is not far behind in its response, advising patients to only come to hospital if absolutely necessary.

A spokesperson for the health board told the Argus: “Our Emergency Department remains busy.

“We advise people to attend only if they are experiencing serious illness or a life-threatening emergency.

“Care for less severe problems can be managed via the minor injury units in our local general hospitals, via the GP or from pharmacies that offer extended services.”

Earlier today Betsi Cadwaladr and Swansea Bay Health Boards released statements describing “unprecedented demand across the health and social care system”, in what was an "exceptionally challenging time".

Executive director of nursing, Angela Wood said Swansea Health Board was seeing a “very high volume of patients” presenting at hospitals with flu, Covid and other respiratory viruses, as well as an increase in the most unwell patients requiring emergency care.

Swansea Health Board has gone to the extent that they are contacting patients after deciding to postpone "all but the most urgent" appointments at its hospitals on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said that like other health boards across Wales, Aneurin Bevan has experienced similar pressures over the Christmas and New Year period.

“Our hardworking and dedicated staff have worked tirelessly to treat those requiring help,” said the spokesperson.

“Despite this patients have experienced long delays and all areas of the hospital are crowded.”

On Monday the Royal College of Emergency Medicine - which monitors standards of care in UK A&E departments - said the NHS is facing the worst winter for A&E waits on record.

Wales' most senior doctor, Sir Frank Atherton, said on New Year's Eve all health boards were "at the highest level of escalation", describing the system as the busiest he had seen.

Should people need to access care and are unsure of where to go we strongly advise using the 111 Wales Online Symptom checker or calling 111.