Patients urged to ‘stay away’ from Wigan A&E after closure of nearby unit

Wigan casualty department - stay away warning
Wigan casualty department - stay away warning

Hospital bosses have admitted that the closure of Chorley’s accident and emergency department has contributed to the “unprecedented demand” for services in Wigan.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) has asked the public not to visit Wigan’s A&E unit unless they are seriously ill or have a life-threatening emergency.

The move comes after the hospital reported “unprecedented demand” on its services.

Mary Fleming, director of operations and performance, said there had been a large rise in the number of people attending A&E in Wigan.

One reason is the temporary closure of Chorley And South Ribble Hospital’s A&E unit. It shut in April and was replaced with an urgent care centre, because it could not recruit enough staff.

She said: “WWL’s A&E has been experiencing a significant increase in patients attending the department over the last seven months, November 2015 to May 2016.

“We believe that some of the contributing factors are the introduction of NHS 111, a reduction in patients accessing GP out-of-hours services and the downgrading of a neighbouring A&E department.”

Mary Fleming, director of operations and performance

“We have seen an increase of over 3,000 additional patients during this period when compared with last year.

“We believe that some of the contributing factors are the introduction of NHS 111, a reduction in patients accessing GP out-of-hours services and the downgrading of a neighbouring A&E department.

“WWL are very proud of our doctors, nurses and frontline staff who are working incredibly hard under extreme pressure to make sure patients with serious and life-threatening conditions receive emergency treatment appropriately.

“Patients with minor ailments and illnesses will be expected to wait whilst we make sure our most vulnerable patients receive urgent care.”

People who attend A&E whose condition is not considered serious will be expected to wait until a doctor is available to see them. This will be outside the expected four-hour waiting time.

Ms Fleming said: “Our message is simple – if you have a serious urgent medical emergency, go to A&E or dial 999. For everything else please see the list of services below.

“Unnecessary attendances to our A&E prevents doctors and nurses from seeing patients who need urgent care quickly and puts a strain on the whole of the hospital.

“With the support of the public we can make sure we are focusing our attention on our very poorly patients who are suffering serious medical emergencies.”

There are different ways people can get the right treatment at the right time: 

Extended GP service: You can book an appointment to see a GP or nurse until 8pm on weekdays and between 10am and 4pm at the weekend. Registered Wigan borough patients can call 01942 482848 to book an appointment.

Out-of-hours GP service: For non-emergency medical help outside of your GP opening hours, contact the out-of-hours service on 01942 829911.

Walk-in centre: For treatment of cuts, bruises, minor infections, stomach upsets, strains and skin complaints, without an appointment. Leigh Health Centre, The Avenue, Leigh, WN7 1HR. Tel: 01942 483453.

Pharmacists are experts in providing medical information and advice, including coughs, colds, wheezing and minor ailments. You can just drop in to see your pharmacist and many have private consultation areas. They can also advise on any over the counter remedies available and, if you need specialist medical advice, can point you in the right direction. 

The NHS 111 service for non-emergency medical help. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is staffed by fully trained advisors and experienced clinicians. 

For serious medical emergencies, such as chest pain, stroke, severe abdominal pain, severe bleeding, severe breathing difficulties, major broken bones and serious head injuries, go to the emergency department or dial 999.