Wigan hospital bed crisis looms

Bed crisis at Wigan Infirmary looms
Bed crisis at Wigan Infirmary looms

Wigan Infirmary will be short of dozens of beds next year – compromising its ability to cope with rising demand, according to a health service report.

Bosses have been warned the hospital would have “no resilience” to deal with increasing patient numbers or ward closures due to infection unless action is taken.

A review of bed requirements has predicted a shortfall of 72, based on NHS guidelines.

It comes weeks after it was revealed beds from several other hospital units were used to plug gaps during a period of “unprecedented demand” for the town’s A&E department.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Trust said it is working with partners to allay concerns about the predicted shortfall.

The report, tabled at a board meeting of the hospital’s governing body, said a review identified that there will be a shortage of 72 beds at the infirmary by 2020, based on recommended guidelines of 85 per cent occupancy.

“Due to the lack of available capacity, the trust has no resilience to meet increases in demand or temporary closures of beds due to infection. This will result in an inability to admit patients from A&E within a safe timeframe,” it adds.

Failure to address the capacity issues could lead to “an increase in complaints and also both clinical and administrative errors due to overall increased pressures.”

The warning comes weeks after the pressures on the borough’s emergency department were laid bare in a separate health report.

Analysis presented to the borough’s clinical commissioning group said beds in the hospital’s Endoscopy Unit had to be used for A&E patients in February for the first time, along with beds in the ambulatory assessment area, discharge lounge and catheter laboratory.

The hospital’s four hour A&E waiting time target rates have been as low as 64 per cent this year.

Last year, council bosses praised the introduction of the borough’s new Community Response Team that visits patients in the community who have called 999 but do no require hospital treatment.

It had prevented around 900 hospital trips in its first five months, they said.

A spokesperson for WWL said bosses recognise the dedication from staff during “very difficult periods”.

They added: “The number of patients attending A&E and requiring subsequent admission into a hospital bed rose last year, however, the time patients spent in hospital was one of the lowest in Greater Manchester which is a great reflection of the integrated approach to

discharge.

“Longer term, the trust is working with partners to see how we ensure we have the correct bed base to respond to the health needs of the borough ensuring people are seen in the right place the first time.”