Patients - including young children - faced major waits of up to 10 hours to be seen by a doctor as staff struggled to cope at Royal Preston Hospital.
Hospital chiefs today said they were hit by an exceptionally busy day and night on Monday which saw more than double the number of youngsters admitted.
However, adults also contacted the Evening Post speaking of their frustration and anger after being forced to wait for hours on trollies in hospital corridors.
Gail Cowpe, 42, of Bamber Bridge, near Preston, was told to go to A&E by her GP after her two-year-old daughter Katrina began suffering from a bad cough and was struggling to breathe.
Gail, who has also has a nine-year-old son Christopher and whose husband Gordon suddenly died of a heart attack a few weeks ago, said: “An ambulance took us to the Royal Preston Hospital and we arrived at 1pm but Katrina didn’t get seen until 8pm.
“Eventually, a doctor came over, looked at her, examined her and told me she had a bronchial viral infection. He said she might be admitted, but she might not and they would get back to us.
“Two hours later he told me Katrina could go home. But they hadn’t done anything or even given her any medication.
“During the night, Katrina woke up coughing terribly and was still struggling with her breathing, so I ended up back at my GP and at square one.
“I feel so angry and upset as children should be seen as soon as possible when they are sent to hospital, not left waiting for hours and hours.
“There were lots of other parents with their children and they were getting angry with the frustration of it all.”
Steph Hunter, 31, of Plungington, Preston, went to visit her friend, Lisa Ashcroft, 28, was admitted to A&E with chest pains and spent the next eight hours on a trolley in the medical assessment unit.
Steph, who used to be a medical secretary, said: “It was absolute chaos and doctors and nursing staff were rushing about, but there was no communication with patients.
“They just seemed to be moving everyone from A&E into the medical assessment unit, but then sticking them in waiting rooms and corridors.
“There were 11 other patients left on trollies or wheelchairs and some of them were elderly and no-one was monitoring them. They just seemed unable to cope and the whole situation was diabolical.”
Clare Kennedy, modern matron in paediatrics at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We had a total of 44 children admitted for assessment in paediatrics on November 29 for a wide variety of problems, which is more than twice the level of admissions we would normally expect.
“These exceptional operating circumstances led to an increased waiting time for assessment and treatment.
“We would like to apologise to parents who had a longer than normal wait and reassure them that it resulted from these exceptional circumstances and is not indicative of our normal service.”