ROYAL Blackburn Hospital receives more ‘blue-light’ ambulances than any other in the North West, it has been revealed.

Vehicles had been queueing up outside the accident and emergency unit waiting for treatment for lengthy periods.

But the hospital and ambulance service have brought in an action plan to cut down admission delays and a new £9million emergency unit at Burnley General is expected to relieve pressure on the Royal Blackburn when it opens in September.

The shock fact the unit receives more emergency vehicles than casualty departments at other major hospitals in the North West, including in Manchester, Liverpool and Preston, was revealed to Hyndburn MP Graham Jones when he met ambulance chiefs.

He said: “I was surprised to learn this, but I knew from constituents that the Royal Blackburn A and E unit was under heavy pressure.

“I heard reports of ambulances queueing up outside for unacceptably long periods. Even police cars have been bringing in cases because of the pressure.

“There are centres for urgent care and a minor injuries in Burnley, Accrington and Clitheroe but the Royal Blackburn receives blue-light ambulances from right across East Lancashire.

“We know there are real problems with poor health in the area which this reflects. In December, the ambulance service and hospital put in place procedures to speed up admission and reduce the wait for ambulances.”

A spokeswoman for the North West Ambulance Service said: “Royal Blackburn Hospital receives the highest number of patients via the ambulance service in the North West. A great deal of work has been undertaken by the hospital trust, along with ourselves, to improve patient handover procedures.

“Measures put in place have seen a continuous improvement.”

She said there were emergency ‘stand-by’ procedures where paramedics informed medical staff of time-critical patients to ensure immediate treatment.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “This pressure on Royal Blackburn’s A and E shows the decision to close the casualty unit at Burnley General in 2007 was wrong.

“The new upgraded emergency unit at Burnley with ambulance bays, due to open in September, should relieve the pressure.”