Attendance figures soar as thousands more patients flock to Wigan's casualty units

Busy staff in the borough’s casualty units saw thousands of extra patients last month, new data has revealed.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 7:00 am

More than 11,000 people sought treatment at Wigan Infirmary’s A&E department and Leigh Walk-In Centre during March, a time when many tough restrictions remained in place as the NHS continued to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Nationally A&E attendances have been lower than usual over the past year, with NHS England saying the fall was “likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response”.

Hospital chiefs have repeatedly urged people in the borough to continue seeking care for serious medical issues, such as strokes and heart attacks, during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary's A&E unit

And new figures show more people needed help from the staff within Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in March.

According to the statistics from NHS England, 8,124 people sought care at the A&E unit last month and 2,983 went to the walk-in centre at Leigh Infirmary - a total of 11,107 patients.

This was a 31 per cent increase on the 8,480 attendances the month before and 28 per cent more than the 8,684 in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic in England.

Even before the outbreak, in March 2019, there were 8,333 patients seeking help across the two centres.

A total of 88.4 per cent of patients were seen in the target time of four hours by the trust last month - 84.2 per cent in A&E and 99.9 per cent at the walk-in centre.

This was slightly down on the previous month but above the national average.

Emergency admissions rose at the trust, with 3,265 being made in March, up from 2,862 the month before.

Once medics decided to admit a patient, 363 people had to wait for more than four hours for a bed last month, while 19 waited for more than 12 hours.

Across England, A&E attendances at hospitals last month rose 10 per cent year on year, but this was partly a reflection of the lower-than-usual numbers for March 2020, which were affected by the start of the pandemic.

A total of 1.7m attendances were recorded in March 2021, up from 1.5m in March 2020, with the equivalent figure for March 2019, a non-pandemic year, being 2.2m.

Emergency admissions to A&E departments also rose last month, to 503,913 from 427,968 in March 2020.

The year-on-year change will again have been affected by the lower-than-usual numbers for March 2020, and the equivalent figure for March 2019 was 555,457.

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