Health chiefs and workers celebrate anniversary of Wigan outpatient department's launch
Wigan health staff have been celebrating 20 years of tender loving care at the Thomas Linacre Centre.
Costing just over £7m at the time, Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) opened the TLC to outpatients on May 20 2002, in the former Wigan Grammar School building following extensive renovation, and was the first acute trrust to move acute outpatients off site from the main Wigan Infirmary location.
Now home to 12 different areas, including antenatal, breast screening, paediatrics, audiology, ear, nose and throat, medical photography and diagnostics such as cardiology, phlebotomy and radiology, the centre hosts 96 consultant-led clinics per week and treats over 100,000 patients from across the Wigan borough every year.
Already in 2022, over 31,800 patient appointments have been held either face-to-face, over the telephone or via video conferencing and 2,680 blood tests are carried out per week.
During the week of celebrations, members from WWL’s Executive Board visited the various departments and areas at the Thomas Linacre Centre, that was rated Outstanding at its last inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
On his visit, WWL CEO, Silas Nicholls paid tribute to staff.
He said: “What our staff do at the Thomas Linacre Centre is really special and we’re really proud of everybody here. There is a real sense of pride and a welcoming nature that really stands out and that is thanks to our fantastic staff. We receive such great feedback from the patients who attend the centre and I would like to congratulate everybody on a wonderful 20 years.”
Helen Flowers, Sister in charge of the Thomas Linacre Centre, added: “I’ve been here since the very beginning and we’re very much a family at the TLC. It has been an amazing 20 years and we’re just going to keep going from strength to strength.”
Thomas Linacre was Rector of the Wigan parish for five years from 1519 up to his death in 1524.
He was the founder and first President of the Royal College of Physicians and was also royal physician to Henry VIII.
The Thomas Linacre Centre became home to the trust’s antenatal department when they relocated from Billinge Hospital in 2004 and paedeatrics joined in 2013 with visiting clinicians from the Royal Manchester Children’s and Alder Hey Hospitals.
In 2015, WWL demonstrated its commitment to environmental change and enabled greener transport for staff and patients when an electric charging point was installed and in the same year, ENT opened a “one-stop-service” for patients, offering consultation and biopsies on the same visit.
Every year, the centre’s breast screening clinic invites 32,000 for routine screening as part of the NHS Breast Screening programme. Annually, the programme saves an estimated 1,400 lives.
As for the building itself, it was originally Wigan Grammar School, the premises having been erected in the mid-1930s.
It was later Mesnes High School and then an annexe of Wigan and Leigh College. The then JJB Sports chairman Dave Whelan bought it for a period in the 1990s with the intention of turning it into offices and a “brass band centre of excellence” but the plans came to nought and he eventually sold it to the health trust.