Patients return to Wigan Infirmary's A&E unit as pandemic continues

A&E attendances have more than doubled in the past year, as patients continue to return after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 4:55 am

The number of people seeking help from hospitals plummeted when the crisis began, as they were urged to stay at home during lockdown and due to concerns about contracting the virus.

But new data published by NHS England shows how patients are once again going to A&E units to get treatment.

Across England,a total of 1.87 million attendances were recorded in April 2021, up from 917,000 in April 2020.

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An ambulance outside Wigan Infirmary's A&E department

However, this was below the non-pandemic attendance of 2.11m in April 2019.

It was the same picture in the borough, with 12,466 people attending Wigan Infirmary’s A&E unit and Leigh Walk-In Centre last month.

That compares to just 6,059 attendances in April last year and 12,339 people seen in April 2019.

Hospital bosses in Wigan have repeatedly urged people to get treatment for serious issues during the pandemic, amid fears those facing heart attacks, strokes and other conditions were too worried about coronavirus to go to A&E.

Before the outbreak, large numbers of people had been seeking help from casualty and chiefs were urging those with less serious issues to consider going somewhere else, such as the walk-in centre, GP surgeries and pharmacies.

The data for April shows Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had 8,399 attendances at the A&E department and 4,067 at the walk-in centre.

A total of 89.8 per cent of patients across both centres were seen within the target time of four hours, above the figure of 85.4 per cent for the whole of England.

The performance was 84.8 per cent for A&E and 100 per cent at the walk-in centre.

There were 3,555 emergency admissions in total, up from 2,828 in April last year.

Once the decision to admit was made, 255 patients waited for more than four hours for a bed, while four had to wait for more than 12 hours.

The figures come as health leaders called for a review of social distancing rules across the NHS to free up more capacity to tackle a waiting list backlog.

In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, they also asked for more investment so the NHS can ramp up its ability to see as many patients as possible in the next few months.

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