Patients attending A&E because of social problems – such as homelessness and alcoholism – cost East Lancashire hospitals more than £100,000 during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

Figures from NHS Digital show roughly 435 emergency care admissions to East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which operates Royal Blackburn Hospital and Burnley General Hospital, had a diagnosis of "social problems (including chronic alcoholism and homelessness)" in 2020-21.

It cost the trust £117,795 to treat patients with this diagnosis over the period.

In 2018-19 – the first year such figures were recorded – there were roughly 475 patients admitted with this diagnosis, at a cost of £110,770.

The figures also cover a range of other categories – including nutritional disorder, safeguarding abuse, social problems in schools and poor social circumstances – with the diagnosis made by the clinician responsible for the patient attending A&E.

Nationally, the cost to the health service of treating patients with social issues across England has almost doubled over just two years.

More than 50,500 patients were admitted to NHS hospitals, minor injury units and walk-in centres with issues such as these across England last year – up slightly from 48,300 the year before and 48,700 in 2018-19.

But the cost to the NHS (£21.1 million) jumped from £13.5 million in 2019-20, and almost doubled from £11.8 million just two years prior.

In terms of cost, social problems were ranked 34th out of the 38 different types of emergency care diagnosis listed at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust.

It was responsible for less than 1 per cent of the trust's £32 million total costs.

The highest amount was spent on treating patients with gastrointestinal conditions – £2.8 million or 9 per cent.