More people are thought to have attended A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital last month than ever before in its 80 year history.
Despite several recent high-profile appeals asking patients to consider alternatives, almost 10,000 people turned up at casualty for treatment, the hospital revealed.
Some 9,673 trips were recorded at A&E and the urgent care centre – which works out at 312 every day – up 10 per cent from 8,793 the same time last year.
The unprecedented demand has been blamed on a shortage of GPs locally, and people living longer, and has sparked a renewed appeal for people to consider where A&E is really the best place to go.
In recent months, patients have been cared for in corridors at casualty as room ran out.
Today, medical director Professor Mark O’Donnell said: “Many of these patients could have been dealt with by other services, such as the walk-in centre in Whitegate Drive or the same-day health centre in Fleetwood.
“Both of these services treat a wide range of minor ailments which aren’t appropriate for A&E, such as sprains, strains, cuts.
“During Monday to Friday, if need, you can also have an x-ray taken at both.”
Blackpool South MP, Labour’s Gordon Marsden, who is set to meet hospital bosses next week, said: “Frankly, many of the people they are seeing should have been picked up at earlier stage in the community.
“The answer is not just telling people not to turn up at A&E when they don’t need to, though that’s obviously an issue, it’s to better coordinate and cooperate with GPs and social services, understanding they also have their financial problems.”
Tory MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Paul Maynard, added: “The role of A&E has changed remarkably in recent years, and people need to make sure they select the right location to get their treatment, and they may not be A&E.
“We are all living longer and more and more people are being seen every day, and we need to make sure that people attend the right place to meet their needs.”
Since April 1, 91 per cent of people at the walk-in centre were seen within two hours, while hospital bosses expect to see patients in A&E within four.
Prof O’Donnell added: “Local pharmacies can also provide expert advice for a range of minor conditions, and the free 111 telephone helpline is available 24 hours a day for guidance on how to treat a complaint.
“Where needed, the extensively trained 111 call handlers will also advise of which NHS service you should visit so you can get the most appropriate treatment in the quickest possible time.
“We urge people to think carefully about how they access local health services.
“By choosing and using the right services, patients can expect to be seen or treated more quickly, while keeping emergency services free for those with serious and life-threatening illnesses.”