Plans to upgrade a primary care centre to ease pressure on Wigan’s A&E department this winter have been delayed.
The GP service at Christopher Home, a former maternity building and eye hospital on the Wigan Infirmary site, was scheduled to become an urgent treatment centre on Wednesday last week.
But health bosses have now confirmed this has been postponed - and the new launch date has not been announced.
They said the upgrade was not yet ready and denied it was due to staffing issues, which a whistle-blower had told the Observer was to blame.
Caroline Kurzeja, Deputy Chief Officer at NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “The Urgent Treatment Centre at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary will be run by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS FT, in partnership with our local GPs, who run our current extended GP service, and Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS FT, who run the current GP Out of Hours service.
“The centre was originally due to start seeing patients from October 31.
“However, it is essential that the centre provides a high quality service from day one, so all partners agreed to a short delay whilst a small number of final details were reviewed.
“We are confident that the centre will open soon.
“Patients will not be affected by this delay as the GP Out of Hours and GP Extended Hours services remain open throughout, along with the Primary Care Centre at the Infirmary.”
Christopher Home opened last year to treat patients who go to A&E but could be seen by a GP.
The Observer reported last month that it would be extended to an urgent treatment centre, which would have a 24/7 GP-led service with staff able to access a range of diagnostic services and see more patients with a variety of conditions.
The change was being made as part of a review of wider GP services to offer more options other than A&E at evenings and
The review runs until April 1, but some changes were being made in advance of the busy winter months.
As part of the changes, the opening times of the GP extended hours service, which offers evening and weekend appointments, were to be changed to see more patients across the borough.
The out-of-hours GP would also move to the new urgent treatment centre overnight, so they have access to more facilities.
But a whistle-blower contacted the Observer to say the shake-up had been delayed due to staffing problems and raised concerns about the new arrangements.
They said staff had concerns about working at the urgent treatment centre, that not all patients would be seen and about the organisation running the centre.