A primary care centre helping to ease the pressure on Wigan’s A&E department is set to be upgraded.
Christopher Home, a former maternity building and eye hospital on the Wigan Infirmary site, opened last year to treat patients who go to A&E but could be seen by a GP.
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It was part of a national initiative to introduce “front door streaming” to help reduce attendances at A&E. Up to 20 per cent of patients are being sent there each day.
The service will now be extended to become an urgent treatment centre, starting from October 31.
There will be a 24/7 GP-led service, where staff will have access to a range of diagnostic services and be able to see more patients with a variety of conditions.
There will be both booked appointments and walk-in patients and NHS111 will be able to send patients there for urgent treatment.
It will share an entrance with A&E, so people will be asked the same questions when they arrive and either be seen at the urgent treatment centre or in A&E if necessary.
The change is being made as part of a review of wider GP services to offer more options other than A&E at evenings and weekends.
The review runs until April 1, but some changes are being made now to help services manage throughout the busy winter months.
The opening times of the GP extended hours service, which offers evening and weekend appointments, will be changed to see more patients across the borough.
Appointments are currently available from 6.30pm to 8pm on weekdays and from 10am to 4pm on weekends, but these will be extended to 6.30am to 10pm on weekdays and from 8am to 8pm on weekends, from October 31.
The out-of-hours GP will move to the new urgent treatment centre overnight, so they have access to more facilities.
Health bosses are looking at whether Leigh walk-in centre could also be turned into an urgent treatment centre.
Dr Tim Dalton, chairman of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “Offering later GP appointments through our extended GP service and the development of the urgent treatment centre will together help us to reduce the pressure on A&E and manage patients who need urgent care for non-life-threatening illnesses in a more effective way.
“I am pleased that the whole local NHS, including GPs and the hospital as part of the Healthier Wigan Partnership, have worked hard to make sure we can make these changes ahead of plan and before this winter really impacts on local services.
“However, we really need local residents to help us to help them by choosing to go to the local pharmacy or their GP whenever they can, and saving A&E for people with life-threatening and serious injuries and illnesses.”