Almost 900 Wigan hospital stays last year involved patients with self-harming injuries, shock figures reveal.
Public Health England data highlights the devastating impact that mental health illness is having locally, the borough’s figures being well above the national average for people needing acute care for self-inflicted wounds.
During the year 2016-17, every 276.6 per 100,000 hospital stays in Wigan were emergency admissions for self-harmers, compared to 185.3 per 100,000 in England on average. This figure was also higher than the North West average of 231.2 per 100,000.
Prof Kate Ardern, director for public health at Wigan Council, said: “The mental health and wellbeing of our residents is something that is really important to us and we’re extremely keen to raise awareness around this.
“We understand that this is an extremely sensitive topic and every single person is different, however, through our #TogetherWeCan campaign, we are committed to highlighting different avenues of support available across the borough and the country.
“Wigan borough is not unique in having to address this very challenging issue and neighbouring areas like St Helens and Warrington are in a similar situation.”
The picture across the North West shows that only three boroughs out of 23 were performing better than the national average with Blackpool’s rate of self-harm hospitalisations was more than double that of Wigan’s, with a rate of 578.9 emergency admissions.
Prof Ardern added: “It is important to note that there are a multitude of factors as to why a person may engage with services about their mental health, including the amount of awareness that has been raised across the country in recent months.
“We have lots of health champions across the borough who dedicate their time to support people with a number of different things, and have a huge impact on the lives of our residents.”
Wigan Infirmary bosses have detailed schemes which are currently being developed to help people suffering with mental illnesses.
Pauline Law, director of nursing at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust, said: “When an individual presents to our Emergency Care Centre following an episode of self-harm our initial priority is always ensuring the patient’s safety.
“Our staff establish the likely physical risk and the person’s emotional and mental state in an atmosphere of respect and understanding.
“Additional steps are taken to make sure the patient is in a supportive environment to minimise any further distress.
“At Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust we are committed to working with our partners to ensure all patients receive the most appropriate care in the most appropriate setting and that all patients are fully supported following discharge from one of our hospitals.
“As part of this commitment, we have 24-hour support from the Rapid Assessment Interface Discharge Team (RAID), a specialist mental health liaison multi-disciplinary team who are able to respond to referrals from our emergency care centre within an hour.
“The team offers specialist assessment, treatment and follow up as well as support our hospital staff to provide a holistic approach to care and ensure patient safety.
“Additionally, plans are in place to develop the services we provide with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
“This development will mean that from September 1st Specialist CAMHS Practitioners will be on site at Royal Albert Edward Infirmary between 7.30am and 8pm seven days a week.
“Outside of these hours we will have on-going access to specialist mental health practitioners based on site and emergency access to mental health medical and local authority on call services.”