High demand for emergency care in east Lancashire

The number of people seeking emergency care at hospitals in East Lancashire has reached an "exceptionally high" level, the trust has said.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said cold weather increased the risk to vulnerable and older people and those with respiratory or heart problems.

It said services were coping but high numbers were "a real challenge".

The North West Ambulance Service said it had also seen a 15% increase in 999 calls over the past four weeks.

Neil Upson, divisional general manager for medicine at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said that while there had been a "significant increase in attendances", the trust was "coping, thanks to the fantastic efforts of our staff, although some delays have been unavoidable".

He added: "Patients can rest assured that if they need emergency care and treatment, they will receive it but we would urge the public not to come to us if they don't need to and use the 111 service if unsure where to go."

'Good neighbours'

Dr Charles Thomson, consultant in emergency medicine, said: "We are experiencing an exceptionally high number of patients who are attending the emergency department and the urgent care centres and the high numbers are proving a real challenge."

Clare Clark, matron in emergency medicine, said: "Although there appears to be no particular pattern to the admissions, we are seeing a high number of elderly, poorly patients."

She said it is "a time for us to be good neighbours" by checking on elderly or more vulnerable people.

Peter Mulcahy, head of ambulance service Cumbria and Lancashire, said the service had seen an additional 300 emergency calls each day over the past few weeks.

"More emergency calls are being made, but I would urge people to think very carefully before calling 999 and consider calling NHS direct or 111 first," he said.

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