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Patients told to still come to Emergency Departments for urgent care

This article is more than four years old.

Staff at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are encouraging people whose health may be at risk to come to their Emergency Departments at the John Radcliffe and Horton General hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attendance last month at both the John Radcliffe and Horton General Hospital Emergency Departments was significantly lower than previous years. Staff are concerned that people are putting their health at risk by not coming to hospital to avoid overburdening services during the outbreak.

The Trust would like to remind people that their Emergency Departments are still available to those who need urgent medical care, and of the importance of using services if you feel that your health is at risk. Avoiding medical care can lead to reduced recovery rates, and even prove fatal.

The Emergency Departments at both the John Radcliffe and Horton General hospitals are still open to anyone who becomes ill with serious health conditions, including stroke, heart conditions, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness, or heavy bleeding. This also applies to children, with the John Radcliffe having a dedicated Emergency Department for younger patients. All of these are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sachin Mandalia, Clinical Lead for the Emergency Department at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said: "We want to remind people of the importance of seeking help if you are unwell. We're worried that really sick or injured people may be avoiding coming to hospital for fear of being a burden on our services during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this really isn't the case.

"Our staff are here for you, and will treat any serious conditions or ailments you may have. We have systems in place to triage patients with suspected COVID-19, so everyone who comes to our hospitals will be treated in a safe manner."

Ansaf Anzhar, Director of Public Health at Oxfordshire County Council, said: "If you have a child who is seriously ill, please do not hesitate to call 999 or go to the A&E department. The medical team are working hard to ensure you receive the care and support you need to ensure you feel better and we don't want residents to stop accessing these services. However, if you think your symptoms are not severe, please speak to your GP or pharmacist to find out about the best options to help you feel better."

Dr Kiren Collison, Clinical Chair at Oxfordshire CCG, said: "We understand that people who need emergency medical help may be reluctant to go to A&E or call for help. This may be due to worries about coronavirus or they may just not want to 'bother' doctors and nurses during this challenging time. However our hospitals' Emergency Departments are open in Oxford and Banbury and in the hospitals over our county borders. Anyone experiencing a medical emergency such as a stroke or chest pains should use these services.

"For other worrying health concerns that are not an emergency please contact your GP practice; they are open and will be able to give advice and support over the phone in the first instance."

National advice for people who think they may have COVID-19 remains to visit NHS 111 online and self-isolate for seven days.

For more information, please visit the NHS COVID-19 website.