Fears as some people visit casualty 50 times in a year

Banbury Cake: Watchdog boss Lawrie Stratford Watchdog boss Lawrie Stratford

ACCIDENT and Emergency staff are seeing some people more than 50 times in one year, taking up more than 1,000 consultations.

Last night a watchdog leader said repeat visits were putting further pressure on A&E despite more suitable NHS services being available.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show 57 people in 2011/12 and 59 in 12/13 attended Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital more than ten times.

This resulted in 2,107 attendances while less than five went more than 50 or 100 times in 2011/12 – a total of 272 visits.

Watchdog boss Lawrie Stratford said repeat visits “clog the system”.

Nationally the figures showed about 12,000 people visited 10 or more times at the same unit and they included a patient who attended Luton and Dunstable Hospital 234 times in a year and another who went 223 times to Sheffield’s Northern General.

Mr Stratford, chairman of the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “The numbers are disturbing. We need to dig deep to find out more.”

Oxford East Labour MP Andrew Smith, said the figures were “quite extraordinary” and added: “More clearly needs to done to educate some people about when it’s right to go to A&E and when it isn’t.”

Minster Lovell’s Ryan Hunt, 72, said he had been to A&E three times in the year as cardiologists had not found the cause of chest pains.

He said: “It is always the same thing. I have had this problem before and it has never been sorted.”

The trust would not comment on the reasons for the repeat visits.

About 2,000 to 2,500 people attend the hospital and Banbury’s Horton General each week, both run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Figures released on Friday for the week to January 12 show that the trust again missed a key A&E waiting target.

Some 89.1 per cent were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours against a target of 95 per cent, meaning that 218 patients waited more than that time.

It means the trust has missed the target every week apart from two weeks since October 21.

From January 9-15 figures show 44 planned operations were cancelled with beds often taken by emergency patients and 24 incidents were recorded of ambulances waiting outside A&E.

An average 133 bed-blocking incidents were recorded each day, where a patient is well enough to go home but community services are not in place to take them.

Trust spokeswoman Alison Barnes said the number of A&E visits rise in winter because of health problems associated with colder weather and more OAPs.

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