Auckland City Hospital's emergency department is currently seeing record numbers of patients, with more than 1400 patients last week alone.

The high numbers of patients have led the Auckland District Health Board to ask for the public's help to keep the emergency department for emergencies only.

Last week's record is up several hundred compared to the same time in 2016, where 1290 patients were seen.

Although the hospital plans for higher capacity levels at this time of year, adult demand has substantially increased over the past month.

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Some of this increase has been the result of patients with minor illnesses who could have seen their GP or an accident and medical clinic instead of going to the emergency department.

Auckland DHB's chief medical officer Dr Margaret Wilsher assured people who need immediate hospital-based attention, that they will still receive the treatment they need.

"We will provide you with the same high level of care. However, we ask that you help us by keeping the emergency department for serious emergencies," she said.

"Auckland DHB treats some of the most ill patients and complex cases in New Zealand, and we prioritise which patients are seen first based on the seriousness of their conditions.

"If you arrive at our emergency department with a non-urgent injury or illness you may experience a longer wait."

Counties Manukau Health is also currently experiencing very high demand for ED services, with the number of patients attending Middlemore Hospital in the past week reaching 2477.

This compares with 2338 at the same time last year.

The Emergency Department at North Shore Hospital is also experiencing high demand, with 1318 patients treated from August 6 -12.

This compares to 1455 in the same period last year.

Each hospital strongly advises people to protect themselves and their whānau by visiting their GP early and to contact Healthline for free information.

"Many of the patients we see could have avoided hospitalisation if they had seen their GP when they first experienced symptoms.

"We are particularly concerned for the very young and the very old in our community."

Auckland City Hospital was also asking for understanding that, in order to free up bed space for those who need it, patients will be discharged from hospital as soon as they are well enough to go home or receive care in the community, closer to home.

You can help look after yourself and your whānau by:

• Ensuring you and your whānau have this season's flu vaccination.
• Visiting your pharmacy for minor health conditions and queries.
• Seeing your GP for all non-urgent health concerns.
• Visiting your local accident and medical clinic for minor illnesses and injuries.

If you're unsure where you should go, call Healthline for FREE advice from a nurse on 0800 611 116 or visit Healthpoint.

If it's a serious or life-threatening emergency, don't hesitate to go to the emergency department or call 111.