Health chiefs have asked patients to consider other services following up to a six hour wait for treatment at Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s A&E department.
The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said following a sudden surge in demand yesterday afternoon and evening, the public were being asked to help their local emergency services “by using A&E wisely”.
It said the department at Royal Lancaster Infirmary had experienced a large increase in patients attending, putting extra pressure on services.
A Trust spokesperson said: “We are currently experiencing increased pressure on our A&E services and we are calling on the public to help us. We do occasionally experience sudden increases in attendance which can impact on the time for patients to be seen, treated and either discharged or admitted. “Currently, at peak times, patients may find themselves waiting over five hours whilst those who need urgent treatment are seen first.
“While we will see and treat all patients who attend, there are those who could be better treated elsewhere.
“Please help us make sure our staff are free to treat those most in need, such as those who have a serious illness or injury. If you do attend, please be patient with staff who are doing their best in difficult circumstances.
“If someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk then 999 should be called.
“An emergency is a critical or life-threatening situation, such as a suspected heart attack, acute confused state and fits that are not stopping, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, chest pain, head injuries or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.
“However, coughs, colds, sore throats and other minor ailments such as sprains, do not necessarily require a trip to A&E.
“We know it can be difficult when someone is unwell about whether or not to attend the A&E, therefore if you are unsure, please ring the NHS advice line on 111 who are trained to help.
“If you have a minor illness or injury that needs attention, visit your nearest pharmacist or speak to your GP.
“We are continuing to work in collaboration with our partners across health and social care - to ensure that patients are discharged appropriately, and in a timely fashion, and that those people who need the services we provide are treated as quickly as possible.”
Details of pharmacy opening times, as well as advice on caring for yourself and your family at home, are available at www.keepcalmthiswinter.org.uk
www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx and www.nhs.uk/111.