WIGAN’S Accident and Emergency is still being stretched to its limits. say hospital bosses as January has become one of the busiest months on record.
Earlier in the year, Wigan Infirmary chief executive Andrew Foster asked for patients to bear with staff during a busy first two weeks, but the volume of patients shows no signs of letting up.
The department has dealt with nearly 5,000 patients in the past month and the bad weather seems to be exacerbating the problem with hundreds of patients turning up every day.
Fiona Noden, director of Operations at Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) said, “We are continuing to see a significant number coming to A&E with less serious conditions that could be better treated elsewhere. People can choose to self-treat at home or seek support from local pharmacies, their GPs or the Walk-In Centre. We want to ensure all patients receive the right care, at the right time and in the right location. And A&E is not the right choice for minor conditions.”
Now hospital bosses are asking people to think before attending A&E unnecessarily.
A spokesman for WWL said: “We are asking people for their support to make sure that we can give urgent and emergency care to those people who need it most. We need the public to think twice and make sure they choose the right service for minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. The public should only attend A&E if they have a serious health condition or in a genuine emergency.
“Local pharmacies are just one option if you need advice or treatment for a minor illness and offer free, expert advice for a range of minor conditions. GPs or the out-of-hours service is another option to consider.
“There is also the walk-in centre at Leigh Infirmary that can help with minor injuries or ailments. Information about all health services available in Wigan, such as pharmacies, GPs, the Leigh walk-in centre is available on NHS Direct at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.”
Speaking to the Evening Post, Mr Foster said that while they have not been affected yet by severely cold weather, the weeks after Christmas are historically busy and this year has been no exception.
Mr Foster said: “It has been unusual in that we have had a lot of people with multiple serious illnesses which means our beds are occupied for longer which puts an added strain on services.
“One reason could be that a lot of elderly people who stave off illness over Christmas and then come January it catches up with them and they attend A&E.”