THE head of Wigan hospitals’ trust today hit out at claims that the infirmary’s casualty department is under threat and pledged “it will not close”.
Andrew Foster, chief executive of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Wigan Infirmary, said that the A&E department at the Royal Albert Edward site will not be threatened by closure, despite worries following a report leaked to the media.
The report said that three specialist major trauma centres will be established at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal and Wythenshawe Hospital.
Two other hospitals – Bury and Trafford – will stop providing such high-level care while seven others will fight to become trauma centres providing the full range of A&E services.
Along with Wigan Infirmary, they are: North Manchester General, Royal Oldham, Tameside General, Royal Bolton, Stepping Hill in Stockport and Macclesfield General.
However, reports leaked to the media suggest as few as three of these hospitals are needed as trauma units. Health bosses say it could be as many as six.
But today Mr Foster said: “There is absolutely no threat to the A&E department at Wigan Infirmary. The trauma review is there to make sure the very specialist treatment is available across the North West through the three specialist trauma centres at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford and Wythenshawe.
“What we are in the process of doing is trying to gain additional trauma unit status, which is not a threat to A&E but and extra status which helps provide better care.
“For example to gain this status we must meet certain criteria such as the waiting time to see a consultant and our readiness to provide CT scans. This is what we are trying to secure, but I can say there is absolutely not threat to A&E at Wigan.
“What the changes are trying to do is to make sure that in serious cases of injury, we have the correct care in place across Greater Manchester. This is what the three specialist centres will be for, but Accident and Emergency in Wigan is not under threat.”
Wigan is currently one of seven hospitals in Greater Manchester being assessed as part of the Major Trauma Review Process. Wigan Infirmary was recently praised as the top performing A&E department in the North West.