As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the community the NHS in Oxfordshire has urged people to choose the right medical service for their needs, rather than going straight to A&E.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said its A&E departments are “very busy” at the moment and that people should only attend if it is an emergency.

The Trust includes the John Radcliffe Hospital, the Churchill Hospital, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and the Horton General Hospital.

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To avoid putting pressure on the hospitals, the Trust has urged people to instead use services such as NHS 111, GP practices, minor injury units, or high street pharmacists.

Lily O'Connor, deputy director for Urgent Care at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Emergency Departments are for genuine emergencies, so before you come to one of our A&Es, just think - is this really an emergency, or could I get medical help elsewhere?

"By choosing the right health service for your needs, you not only support people who need genuine emergency care - but also your local NHS staff at this challenging time."

The advice comes as Covid-19 rates in the county continue to rise, with Oxfordshire recording 918 cases on December 15 and taking the total number of cases in Oxfordshire to more than 100,000.

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Although hospital admissions due to coronavirus are much lower than they were earlier in the year the Trust is doing “all” it can to prepare for any impact from the virus.

Sam Foster, chief nursing officer at Oxford University Hospitals, said: “While we do not have the same numbers of patients with Covid-19 as we did at the peak of the pandemic, we still have to prepare for any spikes.

“Covid-19 cases in the Oxfordshire community are as high as they were in January this year and we are doing all that we can to prepare for any impact on our hospitals.

“Our Emergency Departments are very busy at the moment - we continue to ask anyone thinking of attending A&E to make sure they only do so in an emergency.

“There are other healthcare facilities in the community that can offer you medical support– if you come to A&E for something that isn’t an emergency, you may be waiting for a long time and could have been seen more quickly elsewhere.”

The Trust is also encouraging people to help bring their relatives home in time for Christmas, so they do not spend any more time in hospital than necessary and take up vital space for other patients.

Ms O’Conner said: “If you have a relative or loved one in hospital who is well enough to go home, but is waiting to be discharged with home care and community health support, you may be able to help them to get home more quickly if you and your family are in a position to support them at home. Please speak to the Ward Manager or Nurse if this something you can help with."


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