Last year the Royal Bolton Hospital was forced to declare a “major incident”, diverting people away from the Hospital due to the huge demands on A&E. We were told at the time that it was just a one off, an unusual spike in demand caused by the specific conditions of that winter.
This year we have seen a big campaign by local health services to try and get everyone to visit pharmacies and GPs rather than A&E. Even after that we have seen multiple stories in the Bolton News about how packed the hospital is this winter, with some people waiting over 8 hours to be admitted through A&E.
This isn’t a one off, our services are clearly struggling to meet the natural seasonal rise in demand.
It’s hard to get a GP appointment at short notice and A&E is too busy. To me that again makes the case for local NHS walk-in centres. If we had the walk-in centre in the town centre it would ease pressure on both of these services. The NHS is right when they say A&E isn’t the place for minor illnesses, but people need somewhere to go when they need help or advice.
I have tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament asking the Government to recognise the value of walk-in centres and encourage commissioners to reintroduce them. I hope that enough MPs will add their names in support to put the Government under pressure on this.