Wigan Infirmary declares its second "critical incident" of the winter

Hospital bosses have declared a “critical incident” at Wigan A&E for the second time this winter and urged people not to go there unless absolutely essential.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) has been experiencing very high demand at its casualty unit in recent days.

But the situation has deteriorated since and the trust is now telling people not to attend it unless they have a “life or limb-threatening emergency”.

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A WWL spokesperson said: “Due to the immense pressure on our services, the trust has declared a critical incident at Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan.

“Our A&E is full and we urge you not to attend, unless you have a life or limb-threatening emergency.

“We are working with partners across Wigan borough to tackle these pressures, with a major focus on discharging patients who are ready to leave our hospitals, so that we can continue to treat patients in urgent clinical need.

“The safety of our patients and staff is our utmost priority, so please help us by sharing this information.”

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Declaring a critical incident means the trust can take further action to deal with the situation, which will include rearranging some non-urgent operations and appointments so staff can focus on caring for patients who are most seriously ill.

People are being urged to seek medical help elsewhere if possible, such as from NHS 111, a GP or pharmacist, and to collect loved ones from hospital as soon as they are ready to be discharged, to help free up beds.

The last time WWL declared a critical incident was a few days before Christmas.

It lasted several days although health bosses came short of shutting the department entirely to new patients and diverting cases to other hospitals, which is the further sanction that could be taken.

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