THE number of parents taking their children to A&E is on the increase in Bolton — prompting a warning from health chiefs.

Young casualties attending the Royal Bolton Hospital rose by 10.5 per cent last year, with 1,900 more children turning up at A&E compared to the previous year.

Health chiefs put the rise down to over-protective parents taking their children to hospital with minor illnesses or injuries that could be dealt with at a pharmacy or a GP’s surgery.

Now the Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging parents “to save A&E for people who really need it”.

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chair of the CCG, said: “Meeting the four-hour target in A&E is a great achievement for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, especially as the number of patients, especially young children, increased.

“I understand that some parents feel the need to go to A&E when their child is ill or injured, but unless their condition is serious or life threatening it is not the best place for them.

“For advice and reassurance, why not speak to your child’s GP, who is skilled in dealing with common childhood ailments?

“Unnecessary visits to A&E reduce the resources available to children who need specialist emergency care, which could mean they don’t get treatment quickly enough.”

Children under nine are the most likely to go to A&E in Bolton, according to the new figures. The hospital opened a dedicated children’s casualty unit in 2007 — an area within A&E specially for them.

The overall number of patients visiting A&E also rose by 4.7 per cent last year. The CCG has since launched a campaign to deter people from making unnecessary visits.

Last month Bolton came fifth out of all A&E departments in the UK, with 98.2 per cent of patients being seen within the four-hour waiting target. The result was achieved in the week between Monday, January 13, and Sunday, January 19, when 1,959 patients attended A&E.