Hospital ‘shake-up’ concern

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

WIGAN Infirmary could become one of five specialist super centres in a huge shake-up of NHS services across Greater Manchester which has brought about concerns from hospital chiefs.

The public will be asked to decide which hospitals they want to become specialist centres as health bosses carry out the “Healthier Together” review, which is due to go to consultation this summer.

Healthier Together chiefs — who say the restructure could save up to 1,000 lives every five years — have already earmarked Salford, Oldham and Central Manchester as specialist centres.

Wigan Infirmary has been shortlisted alongside Bolton, Stockport and Wythenshawe to become one of two other specialist hospitals in the region.

North Manchester, Fairfield in Bury and Tameside could be classed as “local hospitals” under the proposals – a possibility for Bolton if it is not chosen as a specialist centre.

Healthier Together says Wigan’s A&E department and maternity services are not under threat. Patients will be able to give their view on the plans during a series of public events set to take place over the summer.

However, the plans have brought about concerns from health chiefs at Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

A spokesman for (WWL) said: “Although the public consultation document has not yet been published, we understand the proposals that will be included within it will suggest options in three main areas – improved access to primary care, better joined-up community care and changes to emergency surgery carried out in hospitals.

“The main proposed change to hospital services is to centralise emergency surgery in up to five, what are being termed ‘specialist’ hospitals across Greater Manchester. This means that hospitals that are not identified as ‘specialist’ will not be able to provide such emergency surgery and patients will have to be taken to a ‘specialist’ hospital for their surgery.

“The trust board has discussed the Healthier Together programme on a number of occasions and also debated it with the trust’s council of governors. “Although both parties fully recognise the economic context, the Board and Council of Governors, along with a very large number of our doctors have raised significant concerns over the proposed reconfiguration of emergency surgery.”

WWL CEO Andrew Foster added: “Our doctors raised concerns that it would mean a poorer service for Wigan and under some circumstances, could lead to an increased risk to patient safety.”