POOLE Hospital is urging people not to go to A&E unless it is a "life or limb-threatening emergency" as it is under "extreme pressure".

The plea comes as the hospital deals with an outbreak of a bug resistant to some antibiotics, which closed three wards and affected patients from eight others.

Two remain closed, while patients being transferred from Poole to other hospitals risk being isolated unless cleared by test results.

Poole Hospital revealed earlier this week that routine inpatient screening during March and April showed an increase in the number of patients carrying Extended spectrum beta-lactamases klebsiella pneumoniae.

And since then, further cases indicated the bacteria had spread within the hospital.

Now, the hospital's emergency department doctors are asking people to keep A&E free for genuine emergencies.

"Poole Hospital is under extreme pressure, due to the number of very sick patients needing to be admitted," a hospital spokesperson said.

"Emergency department doctors are asking people not to go to A&E unless it’s a life or limb-threatening emergency, or if they have been advised to go there by a healthcare professional.

"Poole Hospital NHS Trust is working very closely with its colleagues in community and social care to do everything possible to ensure patients attending get the care they need. At the same time, they are making sure that those who are well enough can be discharged home or on to the next stage in their care.

"The Trust is prioritising the welfare of the very sickest patients who need immediate life-saving care. Anyone coming to the Poole Hospital emergency department with a minor illness or injury is very likely to face a very long wait. Please use alternative services and keep A&E for those who are gravely ill or injured."

Advice sent from Royal Bournemouth Hospital to staff and patients says patients who require urgent transfer from Poole should be isolated unless they have three negative screenings results within the last seven days.

Day case patients will not need isolation, nor will those who have simply attended the emergency department.

ESBL is most commonly found in damp environments and can live harmlessly in the human body.

It is an enzyme produced by some bacteria, which break down certain types of antibiotic. This means the antibiotic does not treat the infection caused by the bacteria.

It can cause infections in the urinary tract as well as the lungs and chest, wounds and in the blood. And due to the bacteria, there are fewer antibiotics to treat the infection.

Those at risk include people who are already unwell as well as elderly people.

Risk factors can include a prolonged hospital stay, repeated courses of antibiotics, a stay in a residential or nursing home or those with an invasive device such as a urinary catheter.

It can be spread by person to person on contaminated hands or equipment.

Some people in hospital may find they are in single room accommodation or being treated by staff wearing a long sleeved gown and gloves. Notices will be placed on doors to remind others who enter the room about the precautions.

Denise Richards, deputy director of nursing at Poole Hospital, said: “We can confirm that as of 9 May two wards are currently closed to new admissions in order to limit potential spread of the bacteria.

“The trust is working closely with colleagues from Public Health England to ensure that all appropriate public health action is taken.”

Trish Turton, Infection Control Specialist Nurse at RBH said: “Infection control is extremely important to us and our patients and we’re working closely with our colleagues at Poole Hospital.

“Patients requiring transfer from Poole to Bournemouth for ongoing treatment will be required to go into side rooms as a precautionary measure while screening takes place.

“They are informed of this prior to their transfer and are given further information on arrival to us.

“There is currently no evidence of ongoing transmission of this bacteria at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

“The risk to visitors is low.” however as part of our standard infection control procedures we ask they do not attend the hospital if they have been unwell in the past 48 hours and that everyone continues to practice good hygiene.”