A desperate appeal was today made urging people only to call an ambulance in a real emergency in a bid to relieve unprecedented pressure on the health service.
The volume of 999 calls to the ambulance service in the region is currently up 25 per cent compared to the same time last year.
Last weekend, the North West Ambulance Service received around 1,000 additional emergency calls each day to respond to life-threatening and serious incidents compared to 2013.
And it is feared this weekend will be just as busy as town centres brace themselves for an influx of party-goers celebrating Christmas.
Now doctors are appealing for people to act responsibly, and if they are hurt or sick to seek alternative treatment and avoid going to hospital A&E departments if they can.
They are also being warned to act sensibly in order to avoid alcohol-fuelled injuries.
Dr Amanda Doyle, Blackpool GP and chief clinical officer at NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The issue at the moment is around huge pressure on the ambulance service and A&E, so we are trying to remind people that A&E and the ambulance service are for emergencies and life-threatening conditions only.
“There has been an unprecedented rise in demand this year for the ambulance service. Last weekend the North West Ambulance Service had around 1,000 more emergency calls per day than last year.
“These were what are known as ‘red’ calls which are for life-threatening or serious injuries, and the situation is reflected on the Fylde coast.
“There has been a volume increase of around 25 per cent over the previous year and that puts huge pressure on the ambulance service which is why we are asking people, if they don’t have an emergency, to look for other ways of seeking care.
“If an ambulance is tied up with something that could have been dealt with in an alternative way, then it isn’t available for real emergencies.”
Latest official figures from NHS England show there were 1,510 A&E attendances at Blackpool Vic for the week ending December 7, and 2,100 minor injury attendances.
Of those, 180 patients waited more than four hours between attending and either discharge, transfer or admission.
More than 50 patients waited between four and 12 hours between a decision to admit them and them actually being admitted.
Dr Doyle said if people had any doubt about where they should seek care from, they should call the 111 phone service , which is available around the clock.
She said: “People do panic and it is frightening when something happens, and they may be unsure of the right thing to do, but if they just ring 111, then someone will guide them.”
She added that the Christmas holiday period traditionally added to the pressure on doctors and nurses.
Dr Doyle said: “We are not asking people not to enjoy themselves or not to have a drink – but we are reminding them to be sensible.”
Dave Rigby, paramedic and Fylde sector manager at North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, added: “We always see an increase in the number of emergency calls at this time of year.
“That’s why it is important that, as we approach the festive period, people remember to be sensible when out and about.
“The last thing we want is people to suffer an injury and require medical treatment because they have had one too many drinks.
“This adds extra pressures for us and means Christmas for the individual isn’t one to remember.”
Health chiefs on the Fylde have launched the Think! Why A&E? campaign, which urges residents to take caution when enjoying a festive tipple this Christmas.
They warn that avoidable accidents such as slips, trips and falls become much more likely the more alcohol is consumed.