RESIDENTS have been urged to avoid Warrington Hospital’s A&E department, with bosses warning that patients may be diverted to urgent care centres as a result of ‘very long waits’.

Only those in emergencies or life-threatening situations should present at A&E, with other patients being urged to visit urgent care centres in Widnes and Runcorn instead.

A Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “We have been dealing with many very sick patients at our A&E since last night and there are very long waits to be seen as a result.

“Patients that could be seen elsewhere are still attempting to be seen at A&E despite very long waits and full waiting rooms.

“Those that are either not a genuine emergency or in a life-threatening situation face extremely long waits – we may also elect to send these patients to the urgent care centres at Runcorn or Widnes treatment.

“Patients are strongly urged to use the urgent care centres at Widnes or Runcorn, to dial NHS Direct on 111 or to ask their pharmacist before attempting to access A&E.

“Runcorn Urgent Care Centre currently has a less than five minute wait for triage and there is free parking at the centre, located at Halton Hospital.”