A “WORRYING” number of students are visiting the John Radcliffe Hospital’s under-pressure A&E department, a major study has found.

Researchers said a “surprisingly large” number of 317 Oxford University students surveyed, about 14 per cent, had gone to A&E.

Their report added: “However, this number became more worrying when certain criteria were applied, particularly concerning gender.”

This found 20 per cent of males had used A&E, which is under severe pressure and is missing a key waiting time target.

Although specific reasons for the visits are unknown, the report paints a broader picture of services used.

The study was commissioned by Oxfordshire Healthwatch, the official regulator for health and social care.

It said it was hard to discover a reason for this and research is needed into why so many are visiting A&E.

Hospital bosses said many patients could be seen by other NHS services.

Trusts have to admit, transfer or discharge at least 95 per cent of all A&E attendees in four hours.

But Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust has missed this every week apart from twice since October 20. Latest figures, for the week ending February 9, shows 2,206 attended and 191 had to wait more than four hours, a rate of 91.3 per cent.

Mental health services received “extremely positive” and “many negative” responses in the poll.

But it said all services are “in general, satisfactory”.

Healthwatch chairman Larry Sanders said: “This is an interesting piece of initial research but which raises further questions.’’ Student union vice president Charlotte Hendy said: “I look forward to further studies and findings, and working with Healthwatch Oxfordshire to further refine students’ experiences of health facilities in Oxford.”

Oxford University spokesman Stephen Rouse said: “As the chairman of Healthwatch Oxfordshire points out, this is an initial piece of research that raises some questions.’’ Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Rachel McQuilliam said the public health authority is beginning to work with the university to make sure they are “communicating messages around healthy living and wellbeing to students in a proactive way”.


THE health services Oxford’s undergraduate students use:

  • GP services: 63.04 per cent s Emergency room at local hospital: 15.22 per cent
  • Mental health: 13.59 per cent s Sexual and reproductive health clinics: 12.5 per cent
  • Phoning the 111 NHS helpline: 11.41 per cent
  • Infectious disease: 9.78 per cent s Dental: 5.98 per cent
  • Physical therapy: 3.26 per cent s None: 26.63 per cent
  • Other: 9.78 per cent