BOLTON’S accident and emergency is under increased pressure with patients being forced to endure 14-hour-long waits, according to hospital bosses.

People are being told not to come to Royal Bolton Hospital’s A&E unless in a ‘real emergency’ as staff face extreme pressure this week, with bosses hitting out at people who do not need urgent care attending A&E.

But there is no sign of the delays easing as the introduction of a new IT system is expected to cause further problems.

The department is overrun with patients, some of whom are suffering 14-hour wait times for a bed and more than four hours just for minor injuries.

In September, there were around 10,500 attendances at the department — 1,000 more than in September of last year. 

The situation has been made worse by some patients needing a longer stay in hospital, meaning there are fewer beds available. In the last week alone, there has been a 10 per cent increase in the number of patients in hospital for more than 14 days.

Andy Ennis, the chief operating officer, said that there has been a rise in the number of people coming to A&E who ‘should not be at hospital’: “The increase seems to be younger adults and many patients who could be seen by their GP or a pharmacist and really should not come to the hospital at all.

“We also currently have a group of patients who are simply not fit to be discharged and need to stay in hospital for some time. There doesn’t appear to be any one reason for this.”

The situation comes as the hospital installs a new computer system, changing all paper medical records into electronic records. Although the system is hoped to speed up appointments, the move may cause further delays.  

Mr Ennis said: “Once embedded the new electronic paper record system will bring significant benefits for patients and staff but although a great deal of preparation and training has taken place inevitably, as with any new process, it can take a while for staff to get used to it.

"This may add temporarily to the pressures we are under but the introduction of the new system cannot be delayed as its use will be important as we head towards winter.

“We’re working hard with our partners to reduce waits as much as we can, but I urge local people that in order to help our staff and those patients who really need our support, to only come to A&E if vital.”