Student admissions to A&E on the rise

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A recent study has found that record numbers of Oxford students are visiting the Accident and Emergency department.

The study, commissioned by Oxfordshire Healthwatch, found that of the 317 students interviewed, around 14% in total had visited A&E during Oxford termtime.

Men arrived at A&E more than women, with 20% of males surveyed admitting that they had been to the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department at some point.

Meanwhile, those from the hospital have said that they feel some students could have been seen by other NHS services, rather than visiting the already below-target A&E. The maximum four hour waiting time for 95% of patients in A&E (before they are admitted, discharged or transferred) has been repeatedly missed by the John Radcliffe hospital since the middle of October, with the exception of two weeks.

Andrew McLean, Male Welfare Representative at Somerville College, believes alcohol has a lot to answer for students visit A&E. “I feel hesitant to say it’s absolutely a result of drinking alone, but it definitely plays a huge part. When people put themselves in positions where they’re barely in control of their movement, and may be in danger of alcohol poisoning, A&E visits are going to rocket.”

McLean also noted the longstanding effects of this, although he recognised that this is not necessarily an Oxford-only problem: “We’ve got a culture of extreme drinking at university. There are many groups in which putting yourself at risk is viewed as part of the fun of a night out.”

A Somerville fresher, who visited A&E at the John Radcliffe earlier in Hilary, said that she did so based on professional guidance:

“Over the phone, NHS direct said that I should go to hospital straight away, owing to the potential nature of the injury […] I  wouldn’t have gone without being explicitly told to do so.”

An anonymous third-year student said: “Screw Hassan’s, the John Radcliffe A&E department is the best place to be after a night out.”

Oxfordshire Healthwatch, the official regulator for health and social care within the region and the organiser of the survey, believe that more research is needed in order to discover precisely why so many students are visiting the department.

John Radcliffe Hospital was unavailable for comment.

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