Hope for Wigan as Chorley’s A&E to reopen

Wigan Infirmary's A&E department
Wigan Infirmary's A&E department

The pressure on Wigan’s A&E department could ease after a recommendation that Chorley’s unit reopens in the New Year.

Wigan Infirmary’s A&E has seen an increase in the number of patients in recent months, partly due to the temporary closure of the unit at Chorley And South Ribble Hospital in April amid staffing problems.

A team of expert reviewers has now found Chorley’s A&E could reopen on a part-time basis, from 8am to 8pm, possibly from mid-January.

They carried out a review, jointly commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement,to look at the arrangements for both Chorley and Royal Preston Hospital.

Their report recommended opening a 12-hour emergency department, but found it was not feasible for it to reopen 24 hours a day.

It was also agreed that it would not be practical or safe to open the department before January and it would only be possible when a new 24-hour urgent care centre is fully operational.

Along with the other system resilience group partners, we will support Lancashire Teaching Hospitals in moving forwards to open the emergency department on a 12-hour basis, as recommended by the reviewers.

Jan Ledward

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, now plans to follow the recommendation and reopen the unit partially.

Karen Partington, chief executive, said: “The new provider taking over the urgent care centre from January gives us the opportunity to redeploy our staff and work in a different way so that we can safely reinstate the emergency department part-time.

“We have just successfully appointed a middle-grade doctor and will be continuing to try to recruit more, as well as extra consultants and nurses to ensure the service is sustainable. Until we can make these further appointments, our staff have agreed to work extra hours to keep the service running and we thank them for their continued support and commitment.

“Temporarily replacing the emergency department with an urgent care centre was one of the most difficult decisions we ever had to make, however it was the best possible option to provide safe care in the circumstances.

“We know this has been a matter of great concern for local people and are deeply sorry for the anxiety this has caused.

“We thank NHS Improvement and NHS England for commissioning the independent review and the review team for carrying out the work so quickly.”

In a joint statement, Lyn Simpson and Richard Barker, from NHS England, said: “It is important that we see the publication of this report as a milestone and take the opportunity to move forward, working together to implement the recommendations in such a way that the trust can continue delivering the care that its population deserves.”

Jan Ledward, chief officer of Chorley and South Ribble CCG and Greater Preston CCG and chairman of the system resilience group, said: “We welcome the outcome of the review into the temporary closure of the emergency department at Chorley Hospital.

“Along with the other system resilience group partners, we will support Lancashire Teaching Hospitals in moving forwards to open the emergency department on a 12-hour basis, as recommended by the reviewers.”