A HOSPITAL’S accident and emergency department is like a ‘war zone’ with patients waiting hours to be seen, it has been claimed.

Patients told of mayhem at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital’s A&E in the last week, with long waits, patients on trollies and cancelled operations.

One patient said they had to wait 15 hours in A&E to be seen, while another said they endured a 10-hour stay before being treated.

Both patients said they had to ‘sit on the floor’ during their time in A&E, while they also reported seeing ‘17 patients waiting on trolleys’.

East Lancashire’s patient’s champion Russ McLean told the Lancashire Telegraph of the incidents, which happened on Monday and were reported to him by the concerned patients.

Separately, people have also contacted the Lancashire Telegraph reporting that operations they had been expecting had been cancelled.

Hospital bosses said the trust ‘prioritised patients based on their clinical needs’ to ensure that those who need it most get treatment first.

But they acknowledged this could mean a ‘longer wait’ for those who are not in danger, and, occasionally, ‘very long waits’ for people who do not need urgent care or emergency care.

Mr McLean said he had been ‘left alarmed’ by the ‘unacceptable waits’ and said the A&E had been ‘under more pressure’ in the last seven to 10 days with the winter setting in.

He said: “Two patients contacted me on Tuesday saying they had to sit on the floor while waiting in A&E at Blackburn.

“One had to wait 15 hours, while the other waited 10 hours on Monday night, and this was reported to me on Tuesday.

“Both of them told me the situation was ridiculous and that the A&E was like a war zone, while they saw 17 patients waiting on trolleys.

“I have been left alarmed by what they told me which is clearly unacceptable.”

Mr McLean said he has reported the matter to East Lancashire Hospital Trust’s (ELHT) chief executive Kevin McGee.

He said: “There has certainly been more pressure on the A&E in the past seven to 10 days with the winter setting in.

“I am fearful the situation is going to get worse with Christmas coming.

“I also visited the A&E recently myself and saw first-hand the dedication and hard work of staff working under enormous pressure, so they can only be praised.”

It comes as more than 8,000 people have signed a petition calling for the reopening of Burnley General Teaching Hospital’s accident and emergency department, a decade on from when it shut on November 1, 2007.

Campaigners said the re-opening of the A&E at Burnley would ‘reduce pressure’ on the A&E in Blackburn, but hospital chiefs said the changes were ‘necessary’ and ‘‘revolutionised’ care across the area.

Bosses at ELHT have also been busy preparing for the winter months , with the opening of a new Respiratory Assessment Unit (RAU) to treat people with respiratory conditions at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital in October.

The plans are part of £5m to £10m of capital funding to pay for an expansion of the hospitals A&E and to provide two extra clinical rooms.

John Bannister, director of operations for ELHT, said:“Firstly, I’d like to thank our emergency department staff for their continued professionalism and compassion during these periods of extreme demand. They are doing a fantastic job.

“Like other trusts across the country, we have, at times, been experiencing immense pressure with a high number of very sick patients seeking emergency medical attention.

“This is expected to continue throughout winter.

“We need the support of the local community at these times and they should really think about which service may be most appropriate for them such as pharmacies, GP practices, or the minor injuries units and GP -walk in services.

“In some cases, self-care would be the most suitable course of action.

“If patients are unsure what treatment they need, then they can call 111 for immediate medical advice.

“We are working hard to manage the pressures on our emergency services and maintain the flow of patients throughout the hospital to create bed capacity.

“For example, there are dedicated clinical managers on the wards to help with patient care and facilitating discharges. “