Number of 12-hour waits faced by patients at Wigan Infirmary's A&E unit revealed for first time
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Bosses at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) repeatedly urged people to only go to the unit if they were in a limb or life-threatening condition earlier this year.
The department was so busy that health chiefs declared “critical incidents” due to high numbers of patients and delays in discharging those fit to go home.
Now, the lengthy waits faced by patients who still went to A&E in February have been revealed for the first time.
NHS England has shared data on the number of people attending casualty units in February who waited more than 12 hours before being admitted, transferred or discharged.
They show 1,370 patients had to wait more than 12 hours at Wigan’s A&E – 19.7 per cent of the 6,960 people attending.
That was the seventh highest in the country, with Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust topping the pile with 31.3 per cent waiting more than 12 hours.
Nationally, around one in 10 (10.6 per cent) arrivals at hospitals with major A&E departments in February had to wait more than 12 hours before being admitted, discharged or transferred – the equivalent of 125,505 people.
It is the first time data has been published for waits of over 12 hours from the point of arrival, which was one of the commitments agreed by NHS England with the Government as part of the recovery plan for urgent and emergency care services.
Until now, figures have only been available showing how many patients had to wait for more than four hours to be seen in A&E.
NHS data for February shows 66.0 per cent of people were seen within four hours at Wigan Infirmary’s casualty department.
Mary Fleming, WWL’s deputy chief executive, said: “Continued pressures and a high number of patients attending our emergency department has meant that WWL continues to see pressures on our urgent and emergency care system, just like many NHS organisations up and down the country.
“Unfortunately, this has led to patients experiencing significantly longer waits.
“The trust is tackling this issue in different ways, such as utilising our same-day emergency care unit to divert patients away from A&E to a more appropriate level of care, which includes rapid assessment, diagnosis and treatment without being admitted to a ward, and, if clinically safe to do so, a return home. Our pioneering virtual ward service is also playing a huge part, allowing patients to be monitored and treated within the comfort of their own homes.
“Our clinical and community colleagues are also working together with our primary care partners across the Wigan borough health system to better understand our patient population and their needs. This includes looking at how to better provide care in the community while recognising that primary care systems are also under pressure.”
She urged people to consider whether A&E was the right place to go if they need healthcare and to support loved ones who are ready to be discharged from hospital so they can recover at home.