HEALTH minister Jeremy Hunt was given a sneak preview tour of a multi-million pound Wigan health facility ahead of its grand opening.
The Orthopaedic Unit at Wrightington Hospital will open to patients later this month and Mr Hunt was handed a first look at the state-of-the-art facilities.
The minister spoke of how local health trusts, including Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL), were at the forefront of the government’s new scheme to provide seven day services for residents.
He said: “We have kept our promise to the people in the North West and are creating a seven day NHS backed with increased investment.
“We are making it possible for people to access GP services at evenings and weekends to suit their busy lives, and GP surgeries and hospitals in the North West are already leading the way.
So far, 2.4 million people in the North West have benefitted from improved primary care access, including weekend and evening appointments, and over the next three years, there will be further increases in capacity.
“People can’t plan when they get ill, so it’s vital we have an NHS which delivers the same high quality, safe emergency and urgent care on a Saturday and Sunday as they do on a weekday.”
WWL has been an “early adopter” site for seven day services, the Department of Health said, citing how its extended cover in A&E and more clinical staff being made available at weekends were a pioneering approach to the new initiative.
The health secretary was visited Wrightington to hand over the keys for the new orthopaedic unit and learn about the Trust’s award-winning research function based there, a spokesman added.
The £18m development will include two wards with a total of 56 beds, an admissions unit and a four bay operating theatre and is aimed at strengthening the Trust’s position as a centre of excellence for orthopaedic surgery.
The NHS has been handed a £3.8bn cash boost in chancellor George Osborne’s recent spending review announcement as hospitals and GP surgeries are being urged to offer evening and weekend appointments.