Further steps added to A&E relief plan

Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary Accident & Emergency department
Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary Accident & Emergency department

HEALTH bosses today pledged further measures to help Wigan Infirmary cope with some of the toughest pressures on its A&E department in a decade.

Extra funding to pay for an additional 16,000 GP appointments over the remainder of the winter, have been added to an emergency plan from NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The aim is to help care for more patients in settings other than hospital this winter after NHS performance figures revealed hospital waiting times were at their worst for a decade last year.

Trish Anderson, Chief Officer at NHS Wigan CCG said: “We are taking a wide range of enhancements to services that include more 24/7 working, greater co-operation between services that are intended to improve the quality and safety of services and improve patient experiences, especially when the NHS and social care systems are under pressure.”

The contingency plan also sees more support for NHS and social care partners including daily diagnostic work to monitor how health systems are working, unpicking what the problem is when the system isn’t delivering and finding solutions to improve performance daily.

This is achieved through regular meetings involving leaders from the main health and social care providers in order to keep as many ill people out of A&E.

As well as the funding boost, GPs are also being called upon to fill the breaches, not least having a GP running the new North West Ambulance Service pathfinders service, GPs in casualty undertaking triage and then diverting people back to other appropriate non A&E services. Improvements to mental health services are also being planned.

For example commissioning many services on a 24/7 basis and running the borough-wide care home liaison service that helps enhance care for people with dementia. Improved monitoring and knowledge by the hour of performance across the health system is also set to be introduced. NWAS’s pathfinders service has promised better support for care homes by providing enhanced assessments of which service residents should use.

This is instead of an automatic ambulance transfer to A&E which may not always be the most appropriate service for the patient. A seven-day hospital investment for discharge from hospital at weekends as at weekdays will soon be put in place as well as weekly access to diagnostics and other emergency assessments.

Other funding will be used for system resilience, supporting areas such as enhanced hospital discharge team support and better transport for discharged patients.

More “step-down beds” will be added which will enable people to leave hospital by moving to and being specially cared for in a residential care home bed. And intermediate care will be enhanced with a seven-day therapy rehabilitation service.