Some patients are attending A&E departments hundreds of times each year – and at times more than once a day, stark new figures have revealed.
The soaring number of visits has been blamed on an ageing population and patients flocking to hospitals to have minor ailments treated.
One woman went to casualty at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead nearly 500 times last year – more than once a day.
The 29-year-old had made 483 visits by the second week in November – which is believed to be the highest number of visits by any patient in Britain.
But she is just one of hundreds visiting A&E dozens, or even hundreds, of times a year.
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, come as hospitals face unprecedented pressure.
New figures just released by NHS England highlighted waiting times in A&E in England have fallen to their worst levels in a decade.
Units in England saw just 86.7 per cent of patients within four hours in the week ending January 4, failing to meet the 95 per cent target.
The latest NHS England figures follow the statistics for the last three months of 2014.