THE number of people visiting the accident and emergency unit at Royal Bolton Hospital continues to rise – threatening its financial recovery.

Health chiefs have admitted they are “nervous” about the spike in attendances in June and July, which is traditionally a quieter time for hospitals.

Elderly and people with heart and lung problems are the most common visitors to accident and emergency (A&E).

Alcohol and “self harm”-related illnesses are also putting extra pressure on the Royal Bolton, according to health chiefs.

The rise in attendances undermines work being carried out by the Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to drive down A&E attendances.

Directors of the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust raised concerns at their board meeting on July 31.

Trust chairman David Wakefield, said: “We are now five per cent up in terms of A&E attendances again.

“We have had a sustained increase over two months. Are we confident that we can still hit the 95 per cent four-hour target if these numbers continue to come in? What is happening with the primary care initiative to stop people coming in?”

Andy Ennis, chief operating officer, said: “This is part of a wider national picture. Locally, everyone is saying they have seen a massive increase in attendances.

“It is the elderly group that are coming in greater numbers. They typically stay longer and that’s how the pressure builds.”

Every foundation trust in the country must meet a target where 95 per cent of patients who go to A&E are assessed and either admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours. If a patient is not seen within four hours, the trust is fined £200 by the Bolton CCG as part of a national NHS contract.

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of NHS Bolton CCG, said: “The number of people going to A&E departments has increased nationally and regionally in recent months – Bolton is no exception.

“This may be in part due to spells of hot weather, which can exacerbate long-term conditions.

“NHS Bolton CCG is working with Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, Bolton Council and Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to support the excellent work being done by staff in our hospital’s A&E department.”