Survey suggests patients’ experiences at Wigan A&E worsened last year during the coronavirus pandemic

Patients’ experiences at Wigan A&E worsened last year during the coronavirus pandemic, a survey suggests.
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However, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine praised emergency departments across England for their work, as patient satisfaction rose nationally amid the pressures and challenges of Covid-19.

The 2020 urgent and emergency care survey received feedback from 41,000 patients across England who attended a type one service – A&E departments, sometimes referred to as casualty or emergency departments – in September last year.

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The 265 patients surveyed at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) gave the hospital an average overall experience score of 8.1 out of 10.

This was down slightly from the grade of 8.2 it received when the survey was last conducted in 2018.

But a third of patients nationally gave their overall experience a perfect score – up from 27 per cent in 2016 and 29 in 2018.

NHS Providers said the survey highlighted patients’ concerns about pain management, emotional support and staff availability.

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But given the “extreme and unprecedented pressures” they faced, the membership organisation for trusts in England said the survey results are positive.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, added: “This is testament to the dedication and professionalism of frontline staff who strive to deliver care in the most challenging of circumstances.

“We are also pleased to hear that the biggest positive change in this year’s survey findings was in people’s perceptions of cleanliness within A&E departments.”

Across England, 81 per cent of respondents said they were treated with respect and dignity in A&E all of the time – up from 79 per cent in 2018.

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WWL received an average score of 9.1 out of 10 on this matter– up slightly from 8.9 two years previously.

And patients gave it a mark of 9.3 for its cleanliness, which was above the national average of 9.

WWL Deputy Chief Executive, Mary Fleming said: “It’s pleasing to see that in the vast majority of cases our patients are happy with the care they have received from WWL, especially when you consider the challenges the Trust has faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s important to thank all of our patients for the way they have cooperated with us, as we appreciate they may have faced some changes or delays in the way treatment is received due to the unprecedented demand on our services. We realise that we need to continue to work together with our patients and our staff to address any areas that have declined or have failed to improve.

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“I must continue to thank our staff for their dedication and passion. The safety and happiness of our patients is what drives our teams to provide the best care possible.”

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said emergency departments are performing an “incredible job in difficult circumstances”, but noted there are areas for improvement.

Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the RCEM, added: “Many of the areas that are a source of frustration for patients are largely a result of staff shortages.

“It is important that patients have the opportunity to talk through their treatment or condition, that all patients receive the help they need when they need it whether before, after or during their care, and that their pain or condition is managed throughout their time in A&E.”

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The NHS Confederation, a membership organisation for the healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said A&E services are even busier now a year on from the survey.

James Devine, director of the acute network at the organisation, said: “Staff are more exhausted after everything they have been through in the pandemic, while being worried about what lies ahead this winter.

“Time will tell whether the Government’s Covid winter plan will be enough to keep transmission down but there are a range of things we can all do to keep each another safe and protect the NHS.

“This includes by getting vaccinated if eligible, wearing masks where appropriate, testing and self-isolating if required and following the other vital infection control measures.”

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