Operations are being postponed at Dunedin Hospital because of staff shortages and a busy Emergency Department.
On Tuesday evening, the hospital warned about how busy it was, and apologised to patients who had to wait for care.
There were large numbers of people coming to the Emergency Department (ED) as well as staff illness and vacancies, it said.
"This problem is not isolated to the Southern Region - many hospitals around the country are very busy.
"There are no quick fixes, but Te Whatu Ora is putting in place a wide range of initiatives to address the immediate pressures and are working on longer-term measures to ensure a sustainable workforce."
The emergency department would not turn away anyone seeking medical help, it said.
The sickest patients would be prioritised after being triaged by an experienced nurse.
"Patients in the waiting room are monitored while waiting and are encouraged to approach the triage nurse if their condition changes or if they have any questions or concerns while they wait.
"We are working very hard to prioritise all care appropriately."
With winter approaching, the hospital reminded people to keep up to date with vaccinations, including COVID-19 boosters.