Pressure is mounting on the A&E departments run by Morecambe Bay’s health trust after it failed to meet its targets in March.
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust (UHMBT) is urging people only to use its services in “absolute need”.
A bed backlog at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) and Furness General Hospital (FGH) in Barrow is causing “extreme pressure” on the service, the trust has said.
Ward 23 at the RLI is also currently closed to new patients because of the highly-contagious diarrhoea and vomiting bug Norovirus.
In the week ending March 22, the trust saw, treated, discharged or admitted 89.4 per cent of patients within four hours. This is below the national average of 89.6 per cent, and far below the national target of 95 per cent.
91.8 per cent of patients were seen in four hours between January and March across the country, making it the worst three-month performance since the target was introduced at the end of 2004.
Dr Paul Grout, clinical director for acute medicine, UHMBT, and an A&E consultant, said: “We are keeping the situation under constant review and are taking appropriate action to ensure our patients are safe whilst in our care.
“Much of the problem relates to the number of patients who are currently occupying hospital beds, which in turn places pressure on the A&E departments at the RLI and FGH as patients have to wait for beds to become available. Although the trust has instituted a number of measures to help relieve the situation, we are appealing for the public to help us by only using our A&E departments if they absolutely need our services.”
People should not visit the hospital if they have suffered from diarrhoea or vomiting in the past 48 hours, Dr Grout added.