RECORD numbers of sick patients have forced Wigan hospitals to cancel 40 operations this week alone.
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS (WWL) Foundation Trust has had to call off 40 procedures for patients waiting for non-urgent surgery as it struggles to deal with a huge influx of seriously ill or injured people.
Health bosses are desperately trying to free up medics and hospital beds to look after the growing number of patients with swine flu and seasonal flu.
A trust spokesman said: “Due to a rising demand for critical care beds across the region, the NHS has taken the decision to postpone some planned procedures. This is standard process to ensure there are sufficient critical care beds, capacity and staff for emergency cases.
“Appointments will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity for the procedures we had to postpone.”
“We are hopeful that the service will return to some level of normality next week.”
As well as postponing routine operations, Wigan health chiefs have asked families and friends of patients to limit hospital visits in a bid to reduce the spread of the flu virus.
People suffering minor illnesses have also been urged to stay away to ensure high-priority patients can be treated.
A spokesman for WWL Trust added: “We are appealing to the public for their support during this busy time.
“We would like to request that if you are a normally healthy adult and have a complaint such as a cold, upset stomach and even flu, you can self-treat using basic essentials, such as paracetamol.
“This will leave GPs, community nurses, paramedics, hospital doctors and nurses free to treat those who are seriously ill with flu and other life-threatening conditions.”