PATIENTS were forced to wait in the back of ambulances for more than an hour outside two Oxfordshire A&Es on 14 occasions over the Christmas period.

Dozens more were left for between 30 and 60 minutes in the week leading up to New Year’s Eve at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Horton General Hospital.

It comes after the Oxford Mail revealed the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which runs the hospitals, as well as Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Churchill Hospital, had been operating at Operational Pressure Escalation Level 4 (OPEL 4), formerly known as ‘black alert’, since Tuesday.

The figures, which show the situation from December 25 to 31, are part of the weekly update from NHS England on how the country’s hospitals are coping with intense winter pressure.

They reveal the trust had 14 occasions when a patient could not be seen within one hour and 52 when the wait was between 30 and 60 minutes.

The number of waiting ambulances gradually increased over the week, until at a peak on New Year’s Eve of 139 ambulances, 11 had to wait up to an hour and 10 more than 60 minutes.

Non-urgent, elective procedures such as hip replacements have also been postponed at the John Radcliffe Hospital since December 27.

This was extended on Wednesday to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Churchill Hospital in a move recommended by NHS England.