Patients urged to help ease A&E pressures

Wigan Infirmary accident and emergency department
Wigan Infirmary accident and emergency department

Health bosses are appealing for help to ease the pressure on Wigan’s A&E department, as the latest figures show more patients face long waits.

New data shows 84.61 per cent of patients were seen within four hours in October.

That dropped from 85.75 per cent in the previous month and was below both the national standard of 95 per cent and the 92 per cent target agreed with NHS Improvement.

The hospital has long struggled to meet its targets, with an increase in A&E patients being admitted for care among the reasons given.

People are now being urged to help ease the pressure on A&E by only attending if they are seriously ill or injured.

Dr Tim Dalton, a GP and chairman of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “This has proved to be a challenging year for all our health emergency service teams and the performance in September and October show that whilst overall the situation isn’t getting worse, it isn’t getting better either. This is consistent with what is happening nationally.

“The doctors and nurses in our A&E, walk-in-centre and GP practices and the paramedics in ambulances are working extraordinarily hard to help patients as quickly as they can. They are being supported by the whole health and social care system who are working to ease the pressure by offering more services in the community to help patients stay out of hospital.

“We are doing as much as we can to improve performance, but we need the help of local people and I ask you to use the right service and only go to A&E if you have a serious or life-threatening illness or injury.”

It follows a recent appeal by Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust for people to stay away.

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.”

The data, which was provided to the latest meeting of NHS Wigan Borough CCG’s governing body, also shows the ambulance service is still failing to miss its targets.

It aims to respond to life-threatening and emergency “category one” calls in seven minutes, but the average response time in September was nine minutes 50 seconds. This was a 17-second improvement on the previous month.

For “emergency” calls, dubbed category two, the target is 18 minutes, but the mean time across the North West was 25 minutes four seconds.

When patients arrived at A&E in Wigan, 25.2 per cent had to wait for more than 30 minutes to be handed over to hospital staff - the highest percentage since January.

An ambulance service spokesman said: “New national ambulance targets have now come into place to change the way that we respond to patients and make sure that we are getting people the right response the first time.

“Work is also still ongoing with our colleagues at Royal Edward Infirmary with regards to patient handover procedures. A number of initiatives, including the placement of an ambulance liaison officer within the emergency department, are in place.”