Health bosses have apologised after patients reported waiting for up to seven hours to be seen at the borough’s walk-in centre.
The Leigh-based minor injuries and illnesses unit was described as “absolute madness” on Monday, with reports of people being turned away at 6pm and advice being given but no triage offered.
Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the centre, has blamed high demand and staff sickness for the long delays.
People have repeatedly been asked to seek treatment elsewhere if possible - with the walk-in centre among the suggested sources of help.
But one patient who heeded this advice, Micheal Connor, wrote on Facebook: “I was in on Monday checked in at 12.45pm, had an X-ray, back in waiting room at 13.30 and got seen six hours later. There were only two nurses on because the NHS is under-funded and everybody knows this is not the staff’s problem. They can only do what they can. The government is to blame: the NHS needs more cash.”
The walk-in centre can treat minor illnesses and injuries, such as sore throats, infections, viral ailments, minor burns, cuts or wounds, fractures and sprains.
It is based at Leigh Health Centre, on the site of Leigh Infirmary.
A spokesman for Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is an extremely busy period for the NHS, not only locally but nationally too, and we urge all those in need of medical attention to seek the most appropriate help for their condition.
“We are extremely sorry if patients at Leigh Walk-In Centre are experiencing long waiting times. Please be assured we are doing everything we can to maintain our target of seeing people within four hours of arrival.
“Unfortunately we, in common with other healthcare providers, are experiencing very high demand and this, coupled with significant staff sickness, is placing considerable strain on the service.
“However all steps are being taken to maintain a high quality service and we are working extremely closely with all our healthcare colleagues to see those patients with greatest clinical need.”
Health services in the borough have been under extra pressure in recent weeks as the demand increases over winter.
While the A&E unit has long failed to meet the four-hour waiting time target, people have been warned they face waits of up to 12 hours to be seen recently.
Data from NHS England show occupancy rates for general and acute beds at the borough’s hospitals reached 100 per cent on December 30 and 99.3 per cent on New Year’s Eve, meaning just three of the 447 beds were unoccupied. The 11 adult critical care beds were also filled on December 31.
There have also been some delays for paramedics handing over patients arriving at A&E by ambulance.
And NHS England issued a directive to struggling trusts to postpone non-urgent operations until January 31.