A PATIENT who went to A&E with toothache has been cited as one of the reasons why Royal Blackburn Hospital is struggling to meet waiting time targets.

Latest figures from the hospital show just 76.5 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at the hospital’s A&E during January.

That is way below the 95 per cent national NHS target and less than the England average of 84.4 per cent.

East Lancashire’s patients’ champion Russ McLean said the woman could not understand why she had to wait to be seen at the emergency ward.

After waiting for four hours, the woman went home in frustration.

Mr McLean, chairman of East Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said is was an example of patients turning up to A&E when there was no need.

He said: “This is not what A&E is for and they should have gone to a dentist.

"This will certainly not help the figures which are very disappointing."

Professor Damian Riley, medical director at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust said: “Hospitals all across the country are struggling to meet the A&E four-hour performance standard, and we at ELHT are no exception.

“It is worth pointing out that our emergency department receives the highest number of emergency ambulance visits in the North West – that means a high proportion of our attendances are very poorly patients.

“This has an effect on our bed occupancy rates so it can be difficult to maintain the flow of patients out of the hospital to allow for admissions within the four hour time frame.

"That said, our staff are doing a great job of ensuring all our patients are safe, and all are treated as quickly as possible.

"As well as thanking our staff for everything they do at these highly challenged times, we’d like to thank our patients and their families for their understanding.

“We’d ask that people consider the best and most appropriate place for treatment of minor ailments and injuries. We have two minor injuries units at Accrington and Rossendale, and two urgent care centres at Burnley and Blackburn.

“However, local pharmacies can often help, as well as people’s own GP. If anyone is in any doubt they should call 111 who will be able to help.”