Pressure on Wigan’s A&E department could continue, as uncertainty surrounds when a neighbouring town’s unit will reopen.
Wigan Infirmary’s A&E department has experienced “unprecedented demand” in recent months and people have been asked to stay away unless they are seriously ill or injured.
One of the reasons given for the rise in the number of people attending was the closure of Chorley And South Ribble Hospital’s A&E.
The department there closed in April amid staffing problems and was replaced with an urgent care centre, which cannot treat serious or life-threatening cases.
It was previously stated that bosses hoped Chorley’s A&E unit would reopen at the end of August.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Chorley And South Ribble Hospital, told us yesterday they were still working towards reopening the A&E department next month.
But they will not know whether that will be possible until the beginning of August, when they will find out if all the trainee doctors being sent by Health Education North West will be available to work.
If the opening is delayed, it could mean that patients living in Chorley and South Ribble will need to keep attending alternative hospitals, including Wigan Infirmary.
There has been extra demand on Wigan’s A&E over the past eight months, with Chorley’s closure cited as a “contributing factor”.
Last month hospital bosses urged people to seek advice and treatment in other places where possible, rather than going to A&E.
There was a drop in the number of people going there, but they had to renew their call earlier this week after another surge in demand.
People were reminded to only go to A&E if they were in a serious condition.
Mary Fleming, director of operations at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our message is simple - if you have a serious urgent medical emergency, go to A&E or dial 999. For everything else please seek out the most appropriate healthcare provider such as a GP or pharmacist.
“Unnecessary attendances to our A&E prevent doctors and nurses from seeing and treating those patients who need urgent care quickly. In addition it is putting a huge strain on the hospital as a whole.”