Patient used A&E 79 times in a year

Wigan Infirmary accident and emergency department
Wigan Infirmary accident and emergency department

A handful of sickly Wigan patients were visiting the borough’s A&E on an almost weekly basis, new NHS figures have revealed.

The most frequent visitor was a woman in her 70s who checked herself into the emergency department on 79 occasions last year.

We understand and appreciate that there are a small percentage of patients with complex conditions who need to attend A&E for treatment and support, on a regular basis

May Fleming

The statistics, released to the Evening Post under Freedom of Information laws, also show a further four patients visited at a rate just short of once a week. During the previous year, one patient in her 30s went to the A&E on 110 occasions. The figures have been released in the same week another warning has been issued about using the emergency department for non-urgent care.

And NHS Trust bosses say work is ongoing to cut down on repeat attendances at A&E to relieve the strain on emergency department staff.

The hospital has formed a Re-Admissions Group to help patients with complex conditions. Mary Fleming, director of operations, said: “We understand and appreciate that there are a small percentage of patients with complex conditions who need to attend A&E for treatment and support, on a regular basis.

“Over the past year we have worked hard with our partner organisations to improve the care pathways for patients with complex and long term conditions. One part of this work has been the introduction of a Consultant on A&E who is responsible for looking to these complex cases to find more effective approaches to their care.

“By working with patients and other healthcare professionals we are able to consider alternative pathways for these particular patients, which are more suitable than attending A&E.”

The figures show one male borough resident in his 50s visited 45 times, another, in his 60s, went to the Wigan Lane emergency department on 44 occasions.

Also featured in the top 10 repeat attendees was a woman in her 20s who visited 43 times.

A pair of women in their 20s each called on 36 occasions.

Ms Fleming added: “The Re-Admissions Group supports the alternative care pathways which are already in existence for long term conditions, such as COPD, diabetes and arthritis.

“We have found that this continued patient centred approach has enabled patients to remain at home for longer. This has been reflected in the 31% reduction in episodes of attendance in patients aged 59 and under. “However, we have seen an increase in re-attendance in patients aged 60-79, which is conducive to our aging population.”

Earlier this week Wigan Infirmary’s A&E experienced another in what has been a series of surges in demand.

Ms Fleming, director of operations, said: “Our message is simple – if you have a serious urgent medical emergency, go to A&E or dial 999. For everything else please seek out the most appropriate healthcare provider such as a GP or pharmacist.

“Unnecessary attendances to our A&E prevent doctors and nurses from seeing and treating those patients who need urgent care quickly. In addition it is putting a huge strain on the hospital as a whole.”