More than 15,000 people waited four hours or more at Wigan A&E last year, according to NHS England.
WWL’s casualty department is performing very badly against the NHS national standard for waiting times in A&E over the year.
The NHS target is for 95 per cent of people visiting A&E to be discharged, transferred or admitted to a ward within four hours of arriving.
At the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust that figure was just 80 per cent but local health chiefs recently pointed out that that figure has improved markedly in recent months.
The report shows Wigan A&E saw the equivalent of 234 people a day last year. Around 85,300 people went to A&E, down from 89,500 the previous year. Of these, 16,955 waited for more than four hours, from arriving in A&E to being discharged, transferred or admitted to a ward.
Dr Chris Moulton, vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said that the pressure on A&E has “spiralled out of control”.
“If you keep stretching an elastic band, eventually it will snap,” he said. “You don’t ask ‘why did the elastic band snap?’ - it snapped because you stretched it.”
He said that A&Es were struggling to cope with the demands of a growing and ageing population, particularly since a lack of social care beds keeps elderly patients waiting in A&E. He said that the more “badly stretched and understaffed” departments were, the more difficult it is to recruit junior doctors, creating a “vicious circle” of staff shortages.
Dr Moulton still supports the 95 per cent target, saying that it’s a “good pressure” on emergency departments to keep as few patients waiting as possible.
And he said the solution is simple: more acute hospital beds, increased capacity in social care, and the staff and facilities to keep those beds open.