Hundreds of operations moved out of town from Wigan hospital

Royal Albert Edward Infirmary
Royal Albert Edward Infirmary

Hundreds of patients will have to travel out of the borough for high-risk surgery as part of a major shake-up.

The most serious and complicated operations will no longer be carried out at Wigan’s hospitals from summer 2020.

Instead, around 800 patients every year will be moved to Salford Royal Hospital for the procedures to be done.

It will be the equivalent of 23 beds, plus two critical care beds.

The changes are being introduced as part of Healthier Together, which has been dubbed the biggest change in the region’s health service in decades,

The long-standing scheme saw four “super hospitals” identified across Greater Manchester in 2014, with Wigan Infirmary and Royal Bolton Hospital working under Salford Royal, which is the North West sector’s specialist hospital.

It is hoped that by concentrating surgeons in these hospitals, around 200 lives a year could be saved in Greater Manchester.

Richard Mundon, director of strategy and planning at Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Implementing Healthier Together offers a better outcome for those very high risk patients who require surgery.

“We support the consolidation of that surgery on one site and are working on making sure that the clinical maps and pathways are advantageous to the residents of Wigan.”

The shake-up will mean around 650 emergency cases and 150 non-urgent cases transferred from Wigan to Salford.

These could be patients in a life-threatening condition, procedures that are not carried out often, or where the patient or the type of surgery is deemed to be high-risk.

It accounts for around 10 per cent of all surgery, with the rest remaining in Wigan.

Building work will take place at Salford, which is known as the “sector hub”, to accommodate the transferring patients.

Changes will also be made to the care patients receive when they arrive at the hospital with a condition that could require surgery.

Rather than being admitted to a surgical bed for tests and observation for several days, sometimes to discover they do not need surgery, they will not be admitted unless it is an emergency.

Instead, tests will be carried out and an appointment will be made for the results to be given or surgery to be done.

While the A&E department will be largely unaffected by the shake-up, there are plans to increase the amount of consultant cover there.

The same changes are being made at other hospitals in Greater Manchester, with the sector involving Wigan expected to be the last to be implemented.