People attending A&E departments in East Lancashire are among the most likely to leave without being treated, a new report has shown.
In the latest figures from September 2016, 981 attendees at the East Lancashire NHS Trust- which includes Blackburn Royal and Burnley General Hospital- were recorded as having left the A&E before they had been seen for treatment.
Overall it makes up 6.6% of all patients- around 1 in 16 people, the second highest rate in England.
The numbers show that the amount of people leaving before treatment has more than doubled since 2015, with 453 attendees recorded as having walked out. This itself is also a marked increase from previous years, when only 2.6% of patients left the hospital without treatment.
The rising figures are now twice as high as the national average of 3.2%.
Across England, a total of 53,000 people left A&E departments without being seen to; a quarter higher than the 42,461 recorded in September 2015 and 49% higher than in 2013, when the number was 35,604, around 2.5% of attendees.
In response to these figures, BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter said: “It is clear from these figures that patients are being let down by an overstretched system. The delays that patients are facing, for the care they need, have almost become the norm and this is unacceptable.
“Demand is now so great that hospitals are experiencing a year round crisis. Front-line staff are under serious pressure and are working flat-out, but the system can’t cope with the number of patients needing to move through acute care, as the entire system is congested.
“The government must resolve the long-term funding, capacity and recruitment issues facing the system as a whole if we are to get to grips with the pressures hospitals face year in, year out, and which as we are currently seeing, are compounded during the winter months.”
Dr. Damian Riley, Medical Director at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “A patient may choose to leave A&E for a variety of reasons, not necessarily due to length of time spent waiting for treatment, reflecting that their conditions could have been treated elsewhere by more appropriate NHS services.
“The public can really help us to lower waiting times by only attending A&E in a medical emergency, especially in winter months.”
For minor conditions the public are advised to seek treatment and support from GPs, pharmacists, NHS 111, walk-in centres and minor injuries units.