12,000 Wiganers use health services every day

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MORE than 12,000 Wiganers use medical facilities each day according to health experts hoping to make the best of the borough’s devolution deal.

A health and wellbeing report set to be presented to the council next week claims the borough is in a “strong position to seize the opportunities” presented by care reforms.

Health bosses are hoping, by 2020, to reduce the numbers visiting the borough’s network of GP surgeries, clinics and hospitals by improving social care.

A breakdown of how Wiganers use health services on an average day shows the borough has 9,343 GP appointments, 2,611 outpatient appointments, 91 unplanned admissions and 246 A&E attendances.

The combining of health and social care services was announced as part of the landmark Greater Manchester devolution deal earlier this year, which will see full control over the region’s £6bn health budget handed over from Westminster.

The report states: “We are convinced that GM devolution offers us a unique opportunity to move further and faster on our local transformational programme of work.”

Among Wigan’s priorities is dealing with an aging population “with multiple complex chronic conditions and often facing loneliness” and adults “trapped in chaotic lifestyles and dependant on multiple public services”.

Children who are not ready for school “meaning they may face a lifetime of disadvantage” and high levels of obesity and tobacco, alcohol consumption, are also listed as priority areas.

The report, titled Further, Faster towards 2020, will be presented to the council’s health and wellbeing board on Wednesday (July 29).

Signed by joint chairs of the health board Dr Tim Dalton and Coun Keith Cunliffe, it adds: “The future we are striving for is one where residents are supported to be well, independent and connected to their communities.

“We believe that devolution will act as a catalyst to the realisation of this ambition.”

In conclusion, the report adds: “By 2020, we will see a radically different health and care system in the Borough with a far greater focus on keeping people well in their homes and communities, where care is much more joined up and where we are far less reliant on the unplanned use of services.”

As a result of Healthier Together NHS reforms, Wigan Infirmary missed out on becoming a specialist hospital and will now be part of a single service under the umbrella of Salford Royal.

Although the combining of health and social care in Greater Manchester has been well received, concerns have been raised about the hand over of the £6bn health budget.

Earlier this year, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the devolution deal could create a “two-tier NHS” at odds with the concept of a national health service.