Long wait for help at Wigan's under-pressure A&E department is revealed

Nearly half of patients had to wait for more than four hours to be seen at Wigan Infirmary’s A&E department last month, as the NHS continues to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
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The winter months are traditionally busy for hospitals, but this year staff are also caring for patients with Covid-19 and dealing with the backlog of cases delayed due to the outbreak.

There have already been repeated calls for people to only seek emergency care if they are in a serious accident or a life-threatening condition, to allow staff to focus on treating those who are most poorly.

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With uncertainty about the weeks ahead due to the omicron variant of coronavirus, new figures published by NHS England have revealed the pressure faced by the borough’s hospitals last month.

Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary's A&E unitAmbulances outside Wigan Infirmary's A&E unit
Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary's A&E unit

A total of 13,314 people sought emergency help in November from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 8,508 at Wigan Infirmary’s A&E unit and 4,806 at Leigh Walk-In Centre.

That was up from 9,131 overall last year and from 12,289 in November 2019, before the pandemic.

They faced long waits to be treated, with only 55.3 per cent of patients (4,704) seen within the target time at A&E last month.

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However, 99.5 per cent (4,780) of people were seen at the walk-in centre in four hours, pushing the overall performance for the trust up to 71.2 per cent.

Across England, two million attendances were recorded in November, up from 1.5m in November 2020, and 74 per cent of people were seen admitted, transferred or discharged in four hours.

Once patients had been seen by medics, there were 2,391 emergency admissions in total at Wigan’s hospitals, just below the 2,420 seen last November.

But 925 people had to wait for more than four hours for a bed so they could be admitted and 46 waited for more than 12 hours.

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The number of people having to wait more than 12 hours for a bed across England last month reached a record high of 10,646, up from 7,059 in October.

Some 120,749 people waited at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission in November, down very slightly on the 121,251 in October.

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