Patients facing longer waits to see a doctor at Wigan Infirmary

More A&E patients in Wigan are facing waits of longer than four hours to be seen as the busy winter months set in.

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 7:15 am
Wigan Infirmary accident and emergencies department

New data shows a drop in the proportion of patients being seen within the target time last month, particularly in the A&E department at Wigan Infirmary.

However, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust did better than the national average, with A&E performance across England at its worst-ever level.

The NHS England data shows 86.1 per cent of patients were seen within four hours by the trust last month, dropping from 89.4 per cent in September.

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Nationally, 83.6 per cent of people arriving at A&E were treated or admitted in that time, the worst-ever performance since the four-hour target was introduced in 2004. The target is 95 per cent but it has not been met since July 2015.

Wigan’s A&E unit saw its performance drop from 83.2 per cent in September to 77.7 per cent last month.

It was better news at Leigh Walk-In Centre, where 99.6 per cent of people were seen in four hours, rising slightly from 99.2 per cent.

There were 12,330 A&E attendances in October - 7,605 at the A&E department and 4,725 at the walk-in centre.

A total of 3,253 emergency admissions were made, with the majority - 2,925 - coming via A&E.

Some 624 patients had to wait more than four hours to be admitted, after the decision to admit was made, while two waited for more than 12 hours.

A&E waiting times in Wigan had improved in the summer, reaching 94.9 per cent overall for the trust in July, just shy of the 95 per cent target.

It marked a turnaround after the trust was ranked as the second worst in the country in January when it saw only 63.7 per cent of patients in four hours.

Hospital bosses have spent months preparing for this winter, when demand traditionally soars for A&E care, with new initiatives and reviews of what did and did not work previously.

The two-thirds of people who make their own way there are assessed on arrival and may be told to go to the urgent treatment centre, located in neighbouring Christopher Home, if their condition is less serious, freeing up A&E staff for the most poorly patients.

Changes were made to the waiting area, work has been done to ensure ambulatory patients are seen and efforts have also been made to address the length of time paramedics have to wait to hand over patients.

In March, NHS England announced proposals to scrap the key targets for patients to be seen in A&E within four hours or to receive an operation within 18 weeks.

Under new targets being piloted, those patients with the most serious conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes and sepsis, would receive rapid treatment within an hour, while people with more minor conditions can expect to wait longer in A&E.

Data would be published on how long patients spend on average in A&E.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust was contacted about its performance but did not provide a statement.