CASUALTY patients have been urged by hospital staff not to rush to their A&E departments unless it is an emergency.

The John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford has seen a sharp rise in attendance since lockdown measures eased.

The JRH in Headington, and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, which together provide accident and emergency care across the county, are struggling with rising numbers of patients.

This comes as Oxfordshire recorded 8,388 Covid-19 cases in four weeks.

The number of hospitalisations due to the virus has also reached its highest levels in England for the past five months.

Prof Meghana Pandit, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s chief medical officer, warned of the growing pressure on two of the trust’s hospitals.

In an appeal to the public, she said: “It is a very busy time for our hospitals at the moment.

"We would urge the public to help us to help you by choosing the right NHS service because our Emergency Departments at both the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury are experiencing high levels of demand.

"Unless it is an emergency, please use the NHS 111 online service, which offers patients quick advice on the best option for them to get the care they need, including getting a call back from a trained clinician or nurse, booking them an appointment in an emergency department, or providing advice on how to help them recover.

"Thank you for helping to support our staff at this challenging time."


However, OUH did not wish to comment on why it was unable to cope with the rising level of attendance and said it could not estimate the average waiting time for patients at the JR or Horton.

The trust is not the only one to make such a plea. In the past 10 days, hospitals in Worcestershire, Somerset and several London boroughs have urged people to stay away from A&E departments unless absolutely necessary.

Oxford Mail readers using the JRH have reported waits of up to 10 hours.

According to NHS targets at least 95 per cent of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours.

One patient, Matt Jones, said: "I waited 10 hours on Sunday after being admitted for chest pains following cardiac surgery.

"I am not blaming the doctors or nurses. I blame the politicians for putting the doctors and nurses in this situation."