THE number of patients visiting A&E at the Royal Bolton Hospital has dropped — bucking the trend for the notoriously busy winter period.

Casualties coming to the emergency department last week fell to 1,959, compared to a national winter average of 2,170. Attendances were also down the week before at 1,991.

Milder weather and a new urgent care campaign by the NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are to thank for the drop, according to health chiefs.

Michelle Redgard, divisional director of operations for acute adult care at the Royal Bolton, said: “We’re very pleased that the hospital is continuing to do well on A&E performance.

“There are a number of factors that have contributed to this, including the lower number of attendances than in previous years and also milder weather than usual.

“Undoubtedly the CCG campaign has helped, as has the fact that GPs and staff in community health and social care work closely with our hospital staff.

“Staff across the trust have contributed by working hard to see that patients don’t stay in hospital longer than necessary.”

The Royal Bolton is also outperforming compared to other areas of Greater Manchester and England with A&E waiting times, with 96.4 per cent of patients being seen within four hours, compared to the England average of 91.5 per cent.

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of the Bolton CCG, said: “Winter is always a difficult time for our health services and we cannot afford to be complacent. Sudden spikes in demand can rapidly increase pressure at A&E and have a dramatic impact on performance. We all have a part to play in protecting this vital resource.

“I encourage everyone to keep up the good work and only go to A&E for serious and life threatening conditions.”

Cllr Andy Morgan, who sits on the health scrutiny committee, added: “I think everyone should take credit for these promising figures for A&E.

“We are starting to integrate health and social care and hopefully this is an example of how it will benefit patients.

“I think community teams should also be commended for caring for people in their own homes. This can only help in reducing the number of hospital admissions.”