HEALTH bosses are urging patients to think twice before visiting Royal Blackburn Hospital's A&E as the department is seeing a 'high' number of attendances.

Latest figures from the hospital show that there were 2,640 A&E attendances between Sunday and Wednesday this week, compared to 2,118 during the same period last year.

And health chiefs said that patients are turning up to A&E and to their GPs with minor complaints such as coughs and colds.

In the past, patients have been known to turn up to A&E with toothache, minor urine infections and conjunctivitis.

NHS figures show just 83.1 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at the hospital's A&E during October.

That is against a national target of 95 per cent.

Dr David White, GP and Emergency Care Lead for East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s), said: “In Pennine Lancashire, we work together as a whole health system to plan and deliver high quality, effective services, not just at the hospital but also in primary care and the community setting.

“As part of this work we actively try to educate people about the services that are available and how to access them. This means that people can be seen in the right place, at the right time, by the right health professional.

“We are currently seeing people turning up to A&E and primary care with more minor complaints such as coughs and colds."

Dr White said that people could visit their pharmacist or stay warm at home and drink plenty of fluids instead.

He said: "We are urging the population to consider using alternatives such as your local pharmacist, NHS 111 or online services, the emergency dental line for urgent dental problems, as well as the minor injuries units for minor trauma. These are all available across the Pennine Lancashire area and you will often be seen much quicker.”