EMERGENCY patients in large parts of Oxfordshire are being denied treatment in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, a GP has claimed.

Dr Oliver Sharpley said GPs in west and north Oxfordshire have been bombarded with emails urging them to divert emergency cases to the Horton Hospital, Banbury.

Dr Sharpley, based at a practice in Burford, said GPs were continually faced with telling patients that no place could be secured for them at Oxford’s main hospital, because of a lack of capacity.

Dr Sharpley said: “Our patients are unaware of what is going on until they face an emergency. Then, in their moment of crisis, families are horrified to discover that they are denied access to the John Radcliffe.”

The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust insisted that no local hospitals have closed their doors and that the system operates to ensure emergency patients can be seen swiftly.

But one recent email sent to surgeries asks doctors to make emergency referrals to the Horton “until further notice” to reduce the possibility of patients being delayed or having to be transferred later in the day. Other emails refer to “very little capacity” for both adults and children.

Dr Sharpley, a partner at the Burford Medical Group, said: “Practioners in the west and north of Oxfordshire have received 153 of these emails in the last 69 weeks. This means that nearly one in three of the population of Oxfordshire is being denied the right of emergency admission to the John Radcliffe for nearly three out of five weekdays.”

The Burford GP said that when GPs contacted admission offices or medical doctors it was impossible to influence events.

“It’s just a stone wall. It is totally unacceptable. I don’t know how to beat the system, apart from sending patients to sit for hours in accident and emergeny, which is not in their interest. I don’t know any other doctors who know how to beat the system.”

Dr Sharpley complained that there has been a lack of transparency about the policy for admitting emergency patients.

“Why is the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital NHS Trust not announcing these closures to the general public? I would like to know if it is a cost-cutting exercise. What is behind it? When I talk to consultants they say the JR is not full.

“I don’t know whether they can get the staff, or whether they are deliberately keeping wards closed.

“Is this perhaps a way for the ORH Trust to meet its governmental targets and constrain its budget?”

The GP has written to Witney MP David Cameron. And the Tory leader says he will be raising the issue with the chief executive of the ORH Trust, Trevor Campbell Davis.

Emails about the lack of capacity in the JR and urging co-operation have been sent to doctors in Woodstock, Eynsham, Bicester, Kidlington, Witney, Yarnton, Chipping Norton, Deddington, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Charlbury, Burford, Carterton, Kirtlington and Islip.

A spokesman from the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “All the hospitals in the region work in co-operation with each other to make sure emergency patients can be seen swiftly. None of the hospitals closes its doors.

"When the JR is busy, patients north of Oxford are asked to refer to the Horton. When the Horton is busy, patients may be referred to Oxford. This system is in operation all the time and GPs are sent information at least daily about this.”

Dr Ed Morris, a Witney GP, said: “There is widespread concern about the continuing diversion of patients from the JR to the Horton.

“There is no access for emergency patients to our local hospital for much of the time.”

And a spokesman for another surgery in West Oxfordshire said: “GPs have become very concerned about this. To receive emails every day to divert patients seems stupid. It is like people are pretending there is a service that does not exist.”