Signs of improvement as more patients seen within four hours at Wigan Infirmary's A&E unit

Waiting times are improving at Wigan’s A&E department, with more people seen within four hours last month.
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Patients can face long waits at Wigan Infirmary’s casualty unit, particularly in the winter months, and there have been repeated calls for people to only go there in a life-threatening condition or with a serious injury.

New figures published by NHS England show there was an improvement last month in the number of people who were seen within the four-hour target time.

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It rose from 47.1 per cent of A&E patients in February to 51.1 per cent – the highest figure since August 2022.

Wigan InfirmaryWigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary
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Overall, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) saw 71.2 per cent of patients in four hours, up from 69.4 per cent in February. This was the highest figure since May 2022 and included a score of 99.1 per cent at Leigh Urgent Treatment Centre.

Some 74.2 per cent of patients in England were seen within four hours in A&Es in March, up from 70.9 per cent in February and the highest figure since April 2023.

WWL’s improved performance came despite an increase in the number of patients. Last month, there were 12,957 emergency attendances, up from 12,405 in February. This was made up of 7,524 attendances at A&E and 5,433 at the urgent treatment centre.

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This led to 3,105 emergency admissions, up from 2,859 in February.

But once the decision to admit was made, some patients faced long waits for beds. A total of 1,627 people waited for more than four hours, up from 1,517, and 492 people waited for more than 12 hours, an increase from 428.

This was despite efforts to speed up the discharge of patients already in hospital and free up beds, with the trust running its week-long Multi-Agency Discharge Event (MADE) last month with hospital staff, along with professionals from across the health and social care sector.

A WWL spokesperson said: “The hard work and dedication from our staff across the healthcare system is translating into improvements in our Emergency Department, and staff are working hard to see and treat patients within four hours wherever possible.

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“The department remains under significant pressure due to the number of patients requiring admission and delays in discharging patients who are medically fit to leave hospital. Clinicians will always prioritise those in most urgent need and WWL apologises to anyone who has experienced a significant wait for care.

"A number of plans, including our discharge and flow programme, to help with patient care, have been implemented and discharge teams are working hard to make sure this transition is safe. Recovery at home is always the best option and the public can help us to continue to provide safe and effective care by supporting loved ones to recover at home.

“Our Emergency Department should only be used for life-threatening illnesses and injuries and if you help in these situations, you must come forward. For conditions which are less urgent, please use NHS 111 or consider visiting a local pharmacy, Urgent Treatment Centre or GP practice for support instead.”

Nationwide, the number of people waiting more than 12 hours was 42,968 in March, down from 44,417 in February, while the number waiting at least four hours rose slightly, from 139,458 in February to 140,181 in March.

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