'DISTURBING' figures reveal Oxford's hospitals are at breaking point, with corridors having to be turned into temporary wards to keep up with increasing demand.

The latest internal performance report for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) shows the John Radcliffe (JR), Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Churchill Hospital, as well as Banbury's Horton General, were all operating at or near 100 per cent bed occupancy throughout April and May.

ALSO READ: Major John Radcliffe building works to 'boost staff morale' as 1,000 jobs go unfilled

This is up from the already high 99 per cent to 100 per cent recorded in March, with the JR and Horton both frequently over 100 per cent for adults.

The recommended level is 85 per cent, with the Nuffield Trust, an independent health think tank, warning anything higher puts patients at increased risk of infection, as well as putting pressure on staff to free up beds which 'could pose a risk to patient safety'.

Oxford Mail:

One Faringdon man who asked not to be named told this paper that his 71-year-old father had been left in a corridor in the emergency assessment unit at the JR in March.

The 31-year-old said: “We went in with dad and the ambulance was great – they rushed us up there and got us in really quickly, but then after dad was assessed the poor doctor had to just push dad’s bed up against a wall and say ‘we’ll try and find you a bed for the night’.

ALSO READ: MP calls for hospital to get upgrade after Boris pledge

“It was such a horrible situation – not the doctors’ fault at all, but the idea that dad might be in a corridor overnight was awful.”

In the end, staff found a bed within a few hours, and the man’s father received the operation he needed.

However, after he had recovered their father was stuck at the John Radcliffe for more than a week because there were no beds at community hospitals available.

Oxford Mail:

He added: “It was so frustrating – he needed to be getting daily physio and rehab, and the staff in the ward he was stuck in just weren’t able to provide that, so they were just having to babysit, wasting their time and ours.”

The trust's report said the number of patients that were ready for discharge at the John Radcliffe was increasing, with the majority of delays due to the Home Assessment Reablement Team, which was then having an impact on available general and community hospital beds.

ALSO READ: Fears community hospital’s closure will be permanent

City Community Hospital, run by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and based at the Churchill Hospital, has also been temporarily closed since the end of May due to staff shortages.

Despite winter traditionally being when hospitals are under the most pressure, the report said the John Radcliffe was 'severely congested' 24 hours a day, with attendances up 5.5 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Oxford Mail:

Along with high demand, staffing levels were also so stretched that 16 beds were consistently being temporarily closed for safety reasons due to shortages.

As of the end of June there were 1,091 vacancies across the trust, with 588 of them for nursing and midwifery roles.

ALSO READ: Disabled ex-employee loses discrimination case against Oxford hospital trust

Dr Bruno Holthof, the trust's chief executive, told this paper in June that OUH's 'first, second and third' priorities were all workforce, both retention and recruitment.

Jacquie Pearce-Gervis, chair of support group Patient Voice, said she feared the trust was in a 'crisis situation' adding: "These figures are obviously very disturbing, particularly for those who are trying to care for loved ones."

Oxford Mail:

Dr Bruno Holthof

She said the situation was exacerbated by the difficulty OUH has with staff shortages, adding: "The public would like to know what the trust's plans are to deal with this situation in the long-term.

"Obviously extra beds need to be opened and it is quite unacceptable for the present position to continue.

"Patients and the public need reassurance about this."

READ AGAIN: Caribbean nurses shipped in to staff Oxford hospitals

Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at OUH, said: “We’re sorry that a small number of patients may have waited longer than we would like to be admitted to a bed in our hospital."

She added that, like other hospitals, the trust continues to see a rise in emergency admissions, which have been going up steadily at about five per cent a year.

She explained bed occupancy rates are currently 'extremely high' because of high admissions and some beds not being open because of staff shortages, both national issues

The chief nurse continued: “Patient safety is a key priority for us at the trust. We constantly monitor the staffing levels across all of our hospitals to ensure we are continually able to provide safe and high-quality care to our patients."