Overcrowded A&E in ‘stay away’ plea

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

Health chiefs issued a fresh “stay away” warning to all but strict emergency cases as Wigan A&E faced overload again.

Doctors and nursing staff have complained of “severe pressure” on services and the WWL health trust is asking patients to think carefully about the best place to seek appropriate treatment.

Casualty departments should only be used for serious illness. They are there to provide immediate emergency care for people who show the symptoms such as blacking out, bleeding you can’t stop, severe chest pain, choking, loss of consciousness, stroke. These are all emergencies which require urgent hospital care.

Shaun Curran, divisional director of performance, said: “Our A&E department is currently experiencing significant pressures.

“We are asking the public to think twice and make sure they choose the right service. Making the right choice will ensure the right treatment is given as quickly as possible.”

In his latest column for the Wigan and Leigh Observer next week, Clinical Commissioning Group chairman Dr Tim Dalton explains how these A&E pressures can build.

He said: “When people attend A&E, one of two things happen: they are either seen, given advice/medication and sent home or they are admitted in to the hospital and given a bed so further tests can be done. If everyone who goes to A&E can go home afterwards, then A&E runs really smoothly.

“If everyone who attends A&E needs a bed, then we have problems. After all we only have a finite number of beds in hospitals, and most of them are used for routine operations and ongoing care.

“Lots of things impact on whether a patient is admitted or sent home and therefore impacts on the pressure on A&E. The obvious one is the nature of the illnesses and injuries presenting that day.

“Or it could be the age of the patient, the time of day they attend or even the member of staff that sees them.

“A&E is there for serious, life-threatening illnesses and injuries; emergencies in other words. A good proportion of people who go to A&E don’t really fit this description.

“They could have seen their GP or gone to a walk-in centre in the borough. Or frankly, some of them could have spent a day in bed resting up. That is the truth. And if they did that, A&E would rarely be under pressure.”