TWO patients walked through the doors of Worcester’s under-pressure A&E department more than once a week for an entire year.
Startling figures released this week reveal the pair each visited A&E at Worcestershire Royal Hospital more than 50 times between April 2012 and March 2013, clocking up a total of 133 visits between them.
In the same period 49 individual patients visited the A&E more than 10 times each, accounting for a total of 867 visits at an average of 18 per person.
The figures come at a time when Worcester’s A&E has been under huge pressure following a relentless surge in emergency admissions since Christmas.
Worcestershire Acute Trust has been forced to open almost 100 extra hospital beds while many routine operations were cancelled after the escalation level in A&E reached ‘level four’ – the highest state of alert.
No one from the acute trust was available to comment on the repeat visitors, but bosses have spent recent weeks pleading with people to only visit A&E if they are seriously injured or unwell.
Chief operating officer Stewart Messer said: “Patients can do their bit by ensuring that they only come to A&E if it is absolutely necessary.”
Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital saw slightly fewer repeat visitors over the same period.
But the figures, revealed after a Freedom of Information request by the BBC, show nationally many hospitals are being flooded with patients visiting A&E when they do not need to.
One patient walked into Luton and Dunstable Hospital 234 times while another visited Sheffield Northern General 223 times.
Patients in Worcestershire are being urged to use alternatives to A&E wherever possible.
These include minor injury units at community hospitals, walk-in centres and the NHS 111 phoneline.
Matt Stringer, community care lead at Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, said: “We know that there is a significant number of people who go to A&E with a minor injury.
"On average people wait around 20 minutes to be seen at a minor injuries unit and if more people used these it would free up capacity at A&E so our colleagues there can support those people who do need emergency care.”