Health chief’s A&E warning

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

WIGAN’S top hospital chief is pleading with patients to bear with his staff during what is proving to be one of the busiest weeks for Wigan Infirmary’s Accident and Emergency department.

Andrew Foster, the chief executive of Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) took to the social media site Twitter yesterday morning to voice his views after A&E was stretched to its limits.

Mr Foster posted: “A&E under pressure all week @wwlnhs so I’m off for a walkabout to see what the issues are.”

He followed it up with this tweet: “Report from the front line @WWLNHS - higher than usual numbers of high acuity patients, so lower discharge rates compounding high intakes.”

Then: “Tired but philosophical staff, beginning to feel that we are past the worst.”

Speaking to the Evening Post, Mr Foster said that while they have not been affected yet by severely cold weather, the weeks after Christmas are historically busy and this year has been no exception.

Mr Foster said: “It has been unusual in that we have had a lot of people with multiple serious illnesses which means our beds are occupied for longer which puts an added strain on services.

“Nobody knows why this is but historically the three weeks after Christmas are always busy. One reason could be that a lot of elderly people who stave off illness over Christmas and then come January catches up with them and they attend A&E.

“And it is these people who often have multiple conditions and that is why we have seen such a busy week.”

Mr Foster also stressed the importance of using A&E appropriately and stressed that if colder weather hits over the coming weeks it is likely to increase the pressure on the department. He also thanked his staff for their tireless work.

He added: “Thankfully the weather is being kind and hopefully that will continue, but if it does get close to freezing temperatures we inevitably see an increase in chest complaints and falls.

“I must thank the staff who are working so hard in A&E and hopefully we are over the worst of the busy spell and things will get comparatively normal again.”