EIGHTY-seven per cent of the 5,335 patients dealt with by Airedale Hospital's emergency department in December were seen within the Government's target time of four hours, new figures show.

But 88 emergency patients waited over four hours for admission onto a ward after a doctor first decided to admit them.

Andrew Copley, director of finance at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “December saw the highest monthly attendances of the year at our emergency department.

"We apologise to those people who attended and had to wait longer than we would have liked due to the numbers seeking help over the festive period.

“We’re asking all patients to think carefully before coming to the emergency department.

“Members of the public can really help by making sure that if they do choose to come to the emergency department for treatment, that it is the best place for them to go to get the right care, as soon as possible.”

NHS data showed the rise in the numbers of A&E patients at both the Steeton hospital and Bradford Royal Infirmary in 2015-16 exceeded the national average rise of 2.2 per cent.

A&E staff at BRI treated almost 3,000 more patients than in 2014-15, while Airedale saw an increase of more than 1,800 patients.

In December, nearly 250 emergency patients at BRI waited for more than four hours while a bed was found for them.

A total of 11,737 people passed through BRI’s emergency department, with 3,285 of them needing to be admitted as urgent cases.

A further 1,147 who did not arrive through A&E were also admitted as emergencies, according to figures for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Out of all of them, 247 had to endure a wait for a bed of more than four hours after a decision was made to admit them. This was on top of the time they had already spent waiting to see a doctor in A&E.

The figures also showed that just 82.1 per cent of patients were seen within the Government’s target time of four hours. Nationally, the figure is 86.2 per cent and is the worst figure on record.

Last month, it was revealed that one in three people who attended BRI’s A&E should have sought medical help elsewhere.

Dr Bryan Gill, medical director of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the priority was to maintain patient safety and to treat people as quickly and efficiently as possible and urged people whose conditions are not life-threatening or an emergency to seek help from a GP or pharmacist first.