WIGAN Infirmary could be set to lose out as part of a major NHS shake-up as regional health chiefs have opted for four super-hospitals.
Key figures behind the Healthier Together (HT) reforms announced on Wednesday how many hospitals in the region will be granted specialist status.
And as expected, the odds on Wigan gaining top-tier status have now lengthened with Salford, Central Manchester and Oldham already assured of specialist designation.
Wythenshawe, Stepping Hill, Bolton and Wigan are now vying for the other place although it now seems likely that Stepping Hill will get the nod and Wiganers may have to travel to Salford for specialist treatment.
Borough health bosses have been quick to allay fears about the Infirmary’s A&E.
A joint statement from Wigan’s NHS Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Our valued and important A&E remains protected and will see an increase in the number of senior consultants available to care for patients.”
The HT reforms have been dubbed the biggest shake-up the region has seen for 80 years.
But Infirmary chief executive Andrew Foster has previously said that could mean a future threat to services.
Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and chair of Wigan CCG said: “The HT decision, which I was part of, is another vital step forward in improving local hospital services and making sure that all our patients get access to the best care and the most qualified doctors and nurses when they need them most.”
Lord Peter Smith, Leader of Wigan Council, said: “Wigan borough’s residents are entitled to good quality health care wherever they live and whenever they need it – this is something we will always fight for.
“This decision shows that Healthier Together has recognised that the majority of hospital treatment should be provided at a local General Hospital which will ensure that most services are within easy reach of patients and their families. “Unfortunately, there will be times when some conditions need specialist care. On these rare occasions, we strongly believe that it’s essential that our residents get the very best care available, even if it means travelling a little bit further.”