HEALTH chiefs are encouraging local people to use the minor injuries units (MIUs) in Witney and Abingdon. in a bid to ease pressure on the county's main hospital emergency department.

A new campaign is targeting people who don’t live in the immediate local area of the MIUs and who would otherwise visit A&E at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.

Despite efforts to reduce the number of visits to A&E this year Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which runs the JR, as well as the Horton General in Banbury, saw a rise in patients throughout December compared to the previous year.

Though this year more patients were seen within four-hours, according to the latest NHS statistics.

Locality clinical director at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Ed Capo-Bianco, said: “A lot of people turn up at A&E departments when they could go to their local MIU for advice and treatment and where they are likely to be seen more quickly.

"MIUs provide excellent care for many injuries, from deep cuts to sports injuries and they also have X-ray facilities to help diagnose some broken bones.

“The NHS 111 service can book people in for an at an MIU or people can just turn up. MIUs offer a very good local service.”

As part of the new campaign cards and posters will be made available in villages and neighbourhoods surrounding Witney and Abingdon to remind people of the types of injuries MIUs can treat, such as small burns, bites and stings, sports injuries and infected wounds.

The material also includes contact details, addresses and opening times of the MIUs.

In addition, posters have been distributed to sports and leisure centres in and around the two towns.

Pete McGrane, Oxford Health Clinical Director for Community Services, added: “Our Abingdon and Witney MIUs can help local people with a wide range of minor injuries, reducing the need for long journeys to A&E and increasing your chances of being seen more quickly. Come in and see us, we’re here to help.”

OUH A&E staff saw 87.4 per cent of A&E patients within four hours in December - an increase of 80.7 per cent in December 2017.

The NHS says at least 95 per cent of patients should be seen in that timeframe.