Union calls for cash boost amid ‘unprecedented’ demand at Horton and JR

Ambulances outside the busy Horton A&E department
Ambulances outside the busy Horton A&E department

Union bosses have called for more cash for the trust running the Horton General and John Radcliffe hospitals.

Oxfordshire Unison’s health branch has asked Chancellor Phillip Hammond and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to provide ‘immediate financial relief’.

The Horton A&E has experienced unprecedented pressure

The Horton A&E has experienced unprecedented pressure

The demand came as Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) postponed a number of planned operations because of pressure on its A&Es.

Unison’s Ian McKendrick said: “The crisis has arisen because there are too few staff and beds to cope with demand due to cuts and depressed wages.

Last year the Red Cross branded overcrowding in A&E departments (nationally) a ‘humanitarian crisis’. With this year’s winter surge approaching the situation will be worse unless staff are recruited and beds opened.

“Telling people to stay away from A&E is no answer.”

Mr McKendrick said opening beds and recruiting staff to meet demand will cost money.

“That is why we are calling on the Chancellor and Health Secretary to abandon the planned cuts of £20 billion – under the guise of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) which will worsen the crisis for this and following years – and immediately increase NHS funding.

“Mental health services are also subject to STP cuts and staffing shortages and are at risk of breaking under the strain of increasing demand.”

OUH’s director of clinical services Paul Brennan said: “Last week we had to postpone a small number of planned, elective operations on Monday due to unprecedented demand on our emergency departments.

“Postponing operations is something we only do as a last resort because we know this can be upsetting and disruptive for patients but our priority at all times is to ensure that we provide safe, high quality care for patients in our hospitals – and at times of unprecedented demand on emergency and urgent care, we need to prioritise our sickest patients.

“Any patient whose planned surgery was postponed last Monday will have their operation rearranged as soon as possible.

“Over the last few weeks we have experienced a 10 per cent increase in demand at our emergency departments compared to this time last year.”

He asked patients to use A&E only if in need of emergency treatment.