New opening hours will do ‘little’ to ease A&E demand

Medical staff at work on the Adult Minor Injuries Area, at Accident and Emergency (A&E), Wigan hospital

Medical staff at work on the Adult Minor Injuries Area, at Accident and Emergency (A&E), Wigan hospital

A Wigan MP has poured cold water on hopes that extending the opening hours of Chorley’s urgent care centre will ease the pressure on Wigan’s A&E unit.

The service opened in April to replace Chorley And South Ribble Hospital’s A&E department, which closed temporarily amid staffing problems.

Without action from the Government, this situation is likely to get worse during the winter when patient demand for NHS services increases dramatically. We deserve to know if a decision to downgrade the A&E unit at Chorley has been made permanently

Lisa Nandy MP

It is currently open from 8am to 8pm to treat patients who are not in a serious or life-threatening condition.

The centre will instead open 24 hours a day, with private firm gtd healthcare providing GP-led urgent care for minor illnesses and injuries.

The longer opening hours could mean fewer people travelling to other hospitals, such as Wigan Infirmary, for treatment.

But MP Lisa Nandy is concerned that the extended opening hours will not be enough to ease the demand at Wigan’s A&E department.

She said: “The downgrading of Chorley’s A&E department to an urgent care unit has increased patient numbers at neighbouring hospitals including Wigan. Extending the opening hours of the downgraded A&E department, while welcome, will do little to take the strain off NHS staff at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary who are working incredibly hard while government ministers sit on their hands.

“Without action from the Government, this situation is likely to get worse during the winter when patient demand for NHS services increases dramatically. We deserve to know if a decision to downgrade the A&E unit at Chorley has been made permanently.”

Bosses at Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust earlier this week repeated their call for people to stay away from A&E unless it is a serious or life-threatening emergency.

They have seen a large rise in the number of patients attending in recent months, with the closure of Chorley’s A&E unit cited as a contributing factor.

An average of 7.5 extra patients are attending every day from Chorley and the surrounding area.

Dr Matt Orr, GP and urgent care lead for Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “By providing a 24/7 urgent care service that incorporates GP out of hours, the GP visiting scheme for patients who don’t need to be taken to hospital by ambulance, patients who need medical help fast but don’t need A&E can be treated in the most appropriate place for their need.

“This in turn will help free up emergency departments for those with life-threatening or serious illnesses or injuries.”