Wigan Infirmary's A&E unit still 'very busy' - despite 'critical incident' coming to an end

Health chiefs say Wigan Infirmary’s A&E unit is still “very busy” – as people across Greater Manchester are urged to stay away from hospitals unless absolutely necessary.
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Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced its casualty department was “full” last week and urged people to stay away, unless they were in a life or limb-threatening condition.

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Non-urgent operations and appointments were rearranged and people were urged to support their loved ones as they were discharged from hospital to help free up beds.

Wigan InfirmaryWigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary
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The critical incident was declared over on Friday, but trust bosses urged people to continue carefully considering whether they needed A&E care or could get help somewhere else.

On Thursday, a statement on the trust’s Facebook page said the A&E department “remains very busy”.

A spokesman said: “Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is urging the local community to continue to only attend its emergency department (A&E), or only call 999, if their condition is a life or limb-threatening emergency, and to think carefully about using the alternative options available to them.

“The trust is still experiencing high levels of attendance at the emergency department (A&E) at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, Wigan and ongoing challenges remain in discharging those patients who are well enough to leave hospital.

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"The safety of our patients and our staff is always our top priority and we are working through who needs our help as quickly and as safely as we can. We must prioritise treatment for patients with life and limb-threatening conditions and injuries, so please think about alternative services before coming to A&E.”

It is not just in Wigan that hospitals are facing high demand, with issues also being seen at A&E units across Greater Manchester.

Prof Jane Eddleston, Greater Manchester medical executive lead for acute care, said: “The first day back after the Christmas break is always busy for NHS services but today has been beyond anything we have experienced before.

“We are making an urgent plea to the public in Greater Manchester to only call 999 or attend accident and emergency departments if their condition is a life-threatening emergency.

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“Unprecedented levels of attendance at A&E, staff sickness and increased prevalence of flu and Covid have led to very long waits in emergency departments and for ambulances. We urge the public to use alternative services to make use of NHS 111 online and phone services (111 online is for people aged five and over). Accessing NHS 111 online, contacting your GP, or attending your local pharmacist will mean you get treatment much sooner. GP practices and pharmacies are open as normal between Christmas and new year.

“As we head into the new year we also urge anyone experiencing flu or Covid-like symptoms to stay at home, so that you do not pass on your infection on to others. Both can be serious illnesses, so please take the necessary precautions to protect your loved ones, particularly those who are vulnerable, including getting your vaccines if you are eligible.”

Bosses at North West Ambulance Service have also asked people to call NHS 111 for help in the first instance, after high demand earlier this month left hundreds of patients waiting for ambulances.