EAST Lancashire had the worst performing A&E service in the country last Wednesday, it has been revealed

Of 569 patients who attended the trust’s emergency department, urgent care centres and minor injury units on that day, just 382, 67 per cent, were treated, discharged or admitted to hospital within the target four hours.

The figure is against a government target which says 95 per cent of patients must be treated or admitted within four hours.

Dr Damian Riley, medical director at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, put the figure down to an 'increase in patients attending A&E with complex medical conditions and the summer holiday months bringing their own particular challenges'.

Dr Riley said: “A&E staff work incredibly hard in difficult circumstances but the trust is very aware that improving A&E treatment times is a priority.

“Meeting the four-hour A&E standard continues to be challenging.

“This was the reason our bid for funding to expand the Accident and Emergency department at the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital was recently approved."

He also pointed out that the A&E performance related to one day and that almost nine our of ten patients, 87.9 per cent, were treated win four hours or less the following day, Thursday, and on Friday 93 per cent of patients were seen within four hours.

It comes as Royal Blackburn’s A&E department is set to be expanded after being awarded between £5million - £10million in Government funding.

Although, the trust is currently finalising its plans for how the money will be used, part of the plan will see it open a Respiratory Assessment Unit close to the Emergency Department in the next couple of months.

Dr Riley said: “This will improve the experience for patients who present with breathing problems and respiratory emergencies. “

The trust is also encouraging patients to seek medical advice without coming to A&E.

These include attending the 24-hour urgent care centre at Burnley General Hospital, minor injury units at Rossendale Primary Care Centre and Accrington Victoria Hospital - which are both open between 8am and 8pm.

Patients have also been encouraged to visit their GP practices and pharmacist or call the NHS 111 telephone advice line or visit www.nhs.uk for self-care.