SCORES of problem patients visited the Royal Bolton Hospital’s A&E at least 10 times in just one year — including one who turned up at casualty more than FORTY TIMES.
Figures obtained by The Bolton News show that 120 people went to A&E at the Royal Bolton Hospital at least 10 times each in 2013.
And more than 830 people went at least five times in the same year.
Alcohol-related problems, mental health and chronic conditions are at the root of many repeat attenders, according to hospital chiefs.
Health bosses have now warned the “frequent fliers” are placing a huge amount of pressure on vital services.
Dr Barry Silvert, clinical director at Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We know that some people choose to visit A&E on a frequent basis, often with more minor illnesses or injuries that could be better treated elsewhere. This adds to the pressure on this valuable service.
“A&E should only be used for serious and life threatening conditions and I strongly urge people in Bolton to leave this vital resource for those who really need it. There are other options, including a patient’s own GP, the GP out of hours service, and local pharmacies.”
The figures come after it was revealed patients visiting Bolton’s A&E with coughs, colds and even headlice are costing the NHS locally up to £850,000 a year.
A child with headlice, a request for a sicknote and problems with lower back pain were also some of the reasons people arrived at the Royal Bolton Hospital’s casualty department last year.
A spokesman for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: “We treat significant numbers of patients in A&E on a daily basis. There are some patients who attend A&E who could have been treated by their own GP, local pharmacist, or attended the GP Out of Hours Service and we encourage people to use these services when they are ill for minor illnesses and injuries.
“There are also a number of people who frequently attend at A&E for various reasons, some of those are for example, alcohol related, or mental health or chronic conditions, and we support patients to use alternative services for these longer term health matters. We also work with our partners across the health economy to improve these services to patients to avoid unnecessary attendances at A&E.”
The figures show a slight increase in the number of people attending at least 10 times a year.
The number of people attending between six and ten times a year has also been on the rise since 2009.
In 2011 and 2012 there was one patient who attended more than 50 times — a number not repeated last year.
The College of Emergency Medicine found 15 per cent of people who attend A&E departments across the UK — about 2.1 million people — could have been dealt with by an alternative to emergency care.
In Bolton, 15 per cent of all A&E attendances equates to about £850,000 of NHS money a year.
Health chiefs say more than 13,680 people who attended the Royal Bolton’s emergency department in 2013/14 could have been treated by a GP or pharmacist.