The borough’s hospice has spoken of how the charity can relieve the burden on the NHS as polls show public backing for supporting hospitals.
Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) chief executive Dr Alan Baron says the Hindley-based charity plays a major role in helping to ease the strain on the borough’s hospitals.
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has frequently had to put out public warnings that its A&E staff are struggling to cope and advised on those with lesser ailments or injuries to seek alternative help such as through GP clinics, NHS 111, the walk-in centre and pharmacists.
Dr Baron spoke as a survey by Hospice UK found 73 per cent back hospices being used more to help the NHS and develop closer relationships with hospitals.
He said: “Over the last 12 months our in-patient unit had over 270 admissions and provided over 4,700 nights of care. Many of these patients would have been in hospital if they weren’t with us.
“Additionally, our community nursing teams cared for over 900 people with a life-limiting illness in their own home over the last 12 months.
“Our Hospice In Your Home team looks after patients in the last few weeks of life while our hospice nurse specialists provide advice and support to patients, which includes prescribing medication.
“Care provided by both of these teams means patients are staying at home rather than going into hospital.”
WLH runs a 24/7 telephone advice line which potentially prevents patients going to A&E because they or their loved ones can talk to a trained member of staff about their symptoms or concerns.
The Hospice In Your Care Home team also works with care homes to reduce hospital admissions.
An independent evaluation of the service by Lancaster University found that since the team began working with borough nursing homes there had been a 25 per cent reduction in unnecessary hospital admissions of their residents.
The Hospice UK survey found only 47 per cent of those questioned thought hospitals were well-equipped to provide end-of-life care.
Three-quarters of those asked thought collaboration between hospices and the NHS improved the quality of care in hospitals.