Shock figures show that in a 12-month period a single patient visited A&E at the Royal Preston Hospital 88 times.
patient visited A&E at the Royal Preston Hospital 88 times.
The Evening Post asked Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust for the 10 most frequent attendees at the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals in 2014.
Of those, six people visited A&E more than 40 times and a further 16 people visited between 19 and 34 times.
Dave Savage, of the Preston and South Ribble Trades Union Council, said a number of problems are hitting A&E services and that, while 40 per cent of patients leave A&E without treatment, not all of them can be ‘time wasters’.
He said: “Increased attendances at A&E is a problem, especially where there is insufficient capacity.
“Attendances are up 30 per cent over the decade nationally. The figures for 2015 show a further increase still.
“Forty per cent of patients leave A&E without needing treatment but not all of these people can be time-wasters.
“The reduction of out-of-hours care is a serious problem.
“The increasing difficulty in seeing a GP is also a real problem.
“Thirdly, A&E nationally is short-staffed, only 50 per cent of higher specialist emergency medicine training posts have been filled since 2011-12.”
“The solution lies in an expansion of capacity in A&E, as well as large-scale investment in community and mental health services.”
Increased pressure has become a huge problem for the Trust in recent months.
In February, the LEP reported that almost 1,000 people had to wait more than four hours to be treated at central Lancashire’s A&E departments in the first three weeks of this year.
NHS bosses said year on year demand had shot up and pressures meant it was taking longer for people to be seen.
Peter Higgins, chief executive of the Lancashire & Cumbria Consortium of Local Medical Committees, said: “Eighty-eight is twice a week and 44 is once a week. This is not somebody who can’t get an appointment at the doctor’s.
“A&E is for exactly that – accidents and emergencies.”
But bosses at the hospitals steered away from saying the people visiting A&E so many times are going unnecessarily.
Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: “We are committed to providing excellent care with compassion for every single patient who walks through our doors, regardless of how often they attend.
“We have seen an increase in capacity at our hospitals over recent years and there are a number of reasons for that, including people living for longer, often with multiple or complex needs, and a reduction in the number of nursing home beds available in the community.”