WIGAN’S accident and emergency department missed its four hour waiting time target for the first time in years in April.
This is despite Wigan Infirmary having been the best performing A&E department in the region over the past two years.
WWL’s chief executive, Andrew Foster, put the long waiting times in A&E down to people turning up to A&E unnecessarily with minor complaints.
Mr Foster said: “April was a tough month with us only achieving 91.3 per cent against the national target to see and either admit or discharge 95 per cent of patients within four hours.
“I’m pleased to report that May and June were much better and the trust achieved an improved 95.3 per cent of patients within four hours for the full first quarter which runs from April 1 to June 30.
“We are still experiencing high numbers of very poorly patients attending A&E who require admission to the hospital. We continue to ask the public for their support and to only attend A&E for genuine emergencies.”
Wigan’s A&E department dealt with 21,940 people last year, including an exceptionally busy Christmas period, which again saw Wigan the only hospital to meet the Department of Health’s criteria.
The news comes after it was revealed in the Wigan Observer that the A&E department at Wigan Infirmary could be downgraded under controversial proposals.
Health chiefs at Wigan infirmary are locked in a battle with neighbouring Bolton for the right to continue to operate a 24-hour service.
The Healthier Together review ordered by the NHS has been leaked to the Observer by a whistleblower concerned this crucial debate should not happen behind closed doors.
Mr Foster warned that the plans, which will involve all hospitals in the county being reclassified as Green and Red sites, will have major repercussions.
Patients attending Green sites will see many A&E services removed. Healthier Together insisted today that the discussions on social and health care across Greater Manchester aim to improve local services. It also pledged that “patient voices” will play a crucial role.
And Wigan MP Lisa Nandy is so worried about the “deeply flawed” review she is calling for its immediate suspension.
NHS in Greater Manchester spokesman Leila Williams said: “We are working on this together - local authorities, NHS leaders, doctors, nurses, and the public. It’s something we can get right best if we make the most of everyone’s insights. These are still early stages at the moment.”
As part of the Choose Well campaign, hospital chiefs are urging people to be aware of other health services on offer, before rushing to A&E.
Local pharmacies are just one option if you need advice or treatment for a minor illness.