People living in the Bradford and Airedale area were among the most likely in England to go to major accident & emergency departments last year.

The findings of the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have led health bodies to remind people only to use the service in genuine accident or emergency.

The HSCIC’s statistics also reveal that children aged nine or under made up 18.5 per cent of attendances in 2012/13 at Bradford Royal Infirmary A&E – more than any other age group.

That compares with 14.7 per cent under-nine A&E visits nationally and 13.6 per cent at Airedale Hospital’s emergency department.

The HSCIC also looked at how many people visited a major A&E department, broken down by the now defunct Primary Care Trust (PCT) areas.

For every 1,000 people living in the Bradford and Airedale area, 339.3 visited A&E, compared to a low of 19 per 1,000 in Luton and a high of 424.8 per 1,000 in the Manchester PCT area.

Bradford and Airedale PCT was ranked 27th, out of 151 across the country.

Nationally, there were 18.3 million attendances at A&E departments between April 2012 and March 2013, a four per cent increase on the previous year. Of those, 135,347 were at BRI and 55,721 were at Airedale General Hospital.

And in the district, as across the country, under nines and those aged 20-29 were most likely to use A&E at both hospitals.

A spokesman for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Over the last three years we have experienced a 4.3 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of patients seeking treatment from our emergency department.

“Demand is high with more than 135,000 people attending the emergency department every year and daily attendances now range from between 350 to 420 patients. We urge people who don’t have an obvious life-threatening illness or injury to access advice from non-emergency organisations such as calling 111 or by contacting their local pharmacist or GP surgery.”

At A&E departments at both BRI and Airedale there were more male patients than female, most people attended on Sundays and more than 95 per cent of people spent fewer than four hours at A&E.

Dr Andrew Catto, executive medical director for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The majority of our attendances from younger patients are for minor illness and injury. Among the zero to nine-year- olds the most common diagnoses are lacerations, head injuries and respiratory conditions.

From the 20 to 29-year-old age group, the most common diagnoses are sprains, lacerations, dislocations, fractures and joint injuries.

“A&E is for accidents and emergencies only, such as severe chest pain, difficulty breathing and broken bones. Some GPs have extended their opening hours at weekends and evenings to provide patients with an alternative to A&E when they are not seriously ill.”

Throughout January, Bradford City and Bradford Districts CCGs – which replaced PCTs in April last year – funded the opening of 44 GP surgeries across the district on Saturdays.

A spokesman for NHS Bradford City and Bradford Districts CCGs said: “Many people who attend hospital A&E departments don’t really need to go to hospital.

“People who want more information to help them make the right choice can visit – which is an easy-to-access resource for winter health advice.”

The reasons for national visits to A&E were broken down into categories including deliberate self-harm, assault and firework injury, with the highest category listed as ‘other’ – making up 69.5 per cent of attendance reasons.