Norovirus ward closures lead to six-hour A&E wait

Wigan accident and emergency department
Wigan accident and emergency department

A norovirus outbreak closed two wards at Wigan Infirmary over the festive period leading to a build-up in pressure on A&E.

Patients not deemed to be an emergency or seriously ill faced waits of up to six hours on Monday as hospital bosses announced the department was “under immense pressure”.

They asked residents to stay away if possible and consider other healthcare providers first before heading to A&E.

A spokesman for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) said that two wards were closed to new admissions because of norovirus over Christmas.

The spokesman said: “This probably has had a cumulative effect on bed pressures towards the end of last week and over the weekend.”

Wigan’s A&E department has experienced unprecedented demand on several occasions throughout 2016 and has been forced to appeal to the public to only attend in case of emergency or serious illness.

On the last occasion such a warning was needed in November the trust asked residents to think carefully about the best place for them to seek appropriate treatment.

Diane Lee, Head of Nursing for Unscheduled Care commented at the time: “Our staff are working tirelessly to do the best for our patients.

“Unfortunately, unnecessary attendances to our A&E prevent our doctors and nurses from seeing and treating those patients who need urgent care quickly.

“In addition, this increase in demand is putting a huge strain on the whole hospital. With your help and support, we can make sure that we are focusing the right level of attention on our very poorly patients who are suffering serious medical emergencies.”

Monday was the first time the patients deemed not to be seriously ill of injured faced waits of us to six hours to see a doctor. The department remained under pressure into Tuesday.

The trust was the best performing in Greater Manchester last year for the target to see 95 per cent of patients in less than four hours, despite missing it for at least 10 consecutive months.

Alternative providers include:

Extended GP service, for evenings and weekends by calling 01942 482848.

NHS 111, for non-emergency medical help outside of GP opening hours.

Walk-in Centre at Leigh Health Centre, call 01942 483453, or visit without an appointment.

Visit a pharmacists for medical advice.