Wigan's top doctors thank public for helping reduce hospital Covid admissions

As lockdown begins to ease the town’s top doctors have thanked Wiganers for their support over the last few months.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 2:37 pm
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 2:38 pm

The number of patients in hospital suffering from Covid has plummeted and, at the time of publication, there were none in the infirmary’s intensive care unit for the first time in months.

An invitation for people to attend a walk-up vaccination centre in the town without an appointment has also been a massive success with hundreds of people queuing to take up the offer on each day it has been operating.

Dr Sanjay Arya, medical director at Wigan Infirmary, said that the hospital’s dwindling number of Covid-19 cases was only possible thanks to the public’s support by following the lockdown rules, which has given the local NHS workers a vital morale boost after months of exhaustion.

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Wigan Infirmary's number of Covid cases has been dropping

But he and Dr Tim Dalton, chair of Wigan borough CCG, were quick to warn residents that we are not in the clear just yet - especially with the spiralling number of cases in neighbouring Bolton causing great concern.

Dr Arya said: “There are more smiles on our faces in the hospital. That is because the Covid situation is improving in our borough. I really feel proud that we have one of the lowest incidence of Covid in our community.

“This is all an attribute to our people, because they have observed the lockdown rules very well. So it’s a big thank you to the people of Wigan. Without their help, we wouldn’t be seeing what we are today.

“Within the hospital, there are very few covid patients, in single digits. The Intensive care unit does not have any patients with Covid at this moment in time.

Dr Sanjay Arya

“That has enabled us to release staff and theatres, to be able to accelerate the recovery of our elective programme for people who have been awaiting surgery.

“We never completely stopped for patients who needed life saving procedures, but the release of staff has helped us accelerate this programme”.

He added: “Our aim is to clear the backlog of patients as rapidly as we can. Every doctor is looking at each patient on the waiting list and speaking to the patients.

“If their needs have changed, we are prioritising those patients first. We are not just going by date, we are going by the needs of the patients, rather than who has been waiting the longest. That is called Clinical Prioritisation.

Dr Tim Dalton

“However, our advice would be that we still know it’s a deadly virus. We should not forget the thousands who have died across the country, and should be mindful of the worsening situation in Bolton.

“We should therefore continue to be watchful. We should not get complacent.”

Dr Arya also confirmed that activities which had been postponed at Leigh Infirmary and Wrightington Hospital are now resuming. He assured patients that the risk of cross infection across the sites, between staff or patients, was minimal due to the small number of Covid cases at present.

Work is also underway to support frontline staff with mental health support, following the toughest year of their careers.

Professor Kate Ardern

Dr Arya said: “We have put in place measures to support the psychological wellbeing of our staff. Covid has affected a large number of people, because of so many deaths and so many being critically ill. We set up an SOS room where staff could drop in and talk to other staff, psychologists, mental health teams, and share their concerns.”

Dr Tim Dalton, chair of Wigan borough CCG, thanked the public for their “tremendous work” in following lockdown rules and helping to bring down the rate of infections. He said: “It’s been a very long few months since Christmas, but the only reason we are unlocking is because of that hard work by the public, that’s what put us where we are. But it could very quickly unravel if people don’t follow those basic infection control measures.

“Primary care and community services are now extremely busy. All the practices in the borough are open, and staff sickness levels are back to normal. Services are fully open. Practices are continuing to have a digital first conversation with patients.

“They have restarted in full all the chronic disease work, be it asthma checks, diabetes checks, baby immunisations etc. Things like smear tests and cancer prevention work is on the up.”

He added: “Every person who works for the NHS is passionate about patient care. Part of good patient care is a timely delivery and access. Covid has forced us into a position where nobody would want to have been, but because of the passion everyone in the NHS has got, people are working tremendously hard to deliver the catch-up care, and also communicate to people what’s going on. Even if you can’t get the care you want today, if you at least have some communication, that helps keeps patients informed.”

Dr Dalton also shed light on the current vaccine rollout. He said: “We’ve a tremendous take up of vaccinations. More than 267,000 vaccines have been given to Wigan residents, which is a huge number. Around 177,000 have had first doses, and around 90,000 have had their first and second.

“That’s around 55 per cent of the borough that has had at least one done, and around 66 per cent of the adult population.

“It gives little room for complacency, so if we ask you to come for a vaccine, please do get one. The vaccine is only effective if we complete the course.

“The really important things are the really simple things - washing your hands, wearing a face mask, keeping your distance. That’s what allowed us to get to where we are, and we may have to go back to that. There are other parts of Greater Manchester where the disease rates are rising very rapidly, and they’re not very far away from Wigan.”

Prof Kate Arderm, the council’s director of public health said: “I pay huge tribute to the citizens of this borough, whose compliance and kindness towards each other has been at the heart of keeping infections at bay.

“We’ve done it so far, we need to keep going through the easing of lockdown.”

Vaccine rates.

A third of people in Wigan have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, figures reveal.

NHS data shows 90,812 people had received both jabs by May 9 – 34% of those aged 16 and over, based on the latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Of those to have received both jabs, 80,058 were aged 40 and over – 46% of the age group.

It means 10,754 people aged between 16 to 39 have received both doses.

Across England, a third of people aged 16 and over have received their second vaccine dose.

The NHS vaccine data also reveals variation in coverage for residents who had received at least one dose between different areas across Wigan.

Across Wigan, 67% of those aged 16 and over have had one jab.

Areas with the highest coverage:

1) Lowton, with 79.5% of people aged 16 and over given their first dose.

2) Standish North, 77%.

3) Standish South, 76.8%.

Areas with the lowest coverage:

1) Laithwaite & Marsh Green, 52.5%.

2) Leigh Central, 55.1%.

3) Ince-in-Makerfield, 56.1%.

Across England, 15 million people had received a second dose of the jab by May 9 – 33% of the population aged over 16 and over.

That includes 13.3 million people aged 40 and over – 47% of the age group.

In total, 29.4 million people had received at least one dose of a vaccine by the same date, covering 65% of people over 16.

Despite the success of the rollout, some staff at care homes in Wigan have not been vaccinated. The figures show 2372 out of 2858 eligible staff, including agency workers, at older adult care homes had received a first dose by May 9 – meaning 17% have not had a jab.

The Government is currently in consultation over plans to make the jab mandatory for staff over concerns for residents.

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