Hospital admissions have risen by a quarter in Preston and Chorley in the last decade, new figures show.
Last year the number of patients given a bed in the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust area topped 133,000, more than 26,000 up on the total 10 years ago – or an extra 72 people a day.
The statistics, released by NHS Digital, mirror substantial increases in visits to A&E and also 999 ambulance call-outs as the health service struggles to cope with demand.
And the rise, say health professionals, is down to an ageing population, unhealthier lifestyles and a lack of funding for community services designed to keep people out of hospital.
Suzanne Hargreaves, the Trust’s operations director, said: “Like other hospitals across the country, we are admitting more and more patients every year.
“There are a number of reasons driving this trend.
“The population is ageing, and elderly people are more likely to be admitted to hospital than younger people for urgent care.
“We have unhealthier lifestyles than previous generations, so we are developing preventable conditions such as diabetes, and heart and lung disease, which often require hospital treatment.
“Financial pressures have significantly reduced the care that’s available in the community, and have caused residential and nursing homes to close, so people who may have managed with some support from other services previously are now coming to hospital.
“The number of people attending hospital emergency departments is also increasing every year.
“Whilst we only admit patients who need hospital care, it’s important that people only come to the emergency department if they have a serious or life threatening condition so our specialist staff can focus on caring for those who need urgent and critical treatment.”