WAITING lists for gynaecological treatments are so long in Oxfordshire that local hospitals have temporarily stopped accepting new patients.

From April, women requiring gynaecological treatments will be forced to travel out of the county to hospitals in Buckinghamshire, Reading or Milton Keynes until June 30.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which runs the John Radcliffe and other hospitals, requested that patients be diverted to other counties to allow it to bring down its 40-week waiting list.

Staffing pressures have been blamed, with the the trust unable to recruit enough specialist doctors and nurses.

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In a letter to local GPs, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group – which commissions NHS services in the county – said the number of women waiting beyond 40 weeks for an out patient appointment was ‘unacceptable’ and instructed doctors to refer patients to one of 10 NHS hospitals or providers.

Clinical lead for gynaecology at Oxfordshire CCG Dr Shelley Hayles said: “Regrettably, some women in Oxfordshire have been facing long waits for certain gynaecology outpatients appointments and treatment because of capacity issues at OUH.

“To try to reduce these distressing waiting times, we have asked local GPs to refer some women to hospitals in neighbouring counties where they will be seen much more quickly, in spite of the inconvenience of longer distances to travel.”

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NHS patients should be seen within 18 weeks, however, as of January, 881 genealogical patients in the county had waited longer than this, while 33 women had waited more than a year.

Between April and June OUH will not be accepting referrals for pelvic pain, general gynaecology, urogynaecology, endometriosis or menopause.

However the trust will still be accepting patients for urgent cancer referrals and recurrent miscarriages.

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Women who are sent out-of-county will not revert back to OUH after June.

OUH said the move would ensure women could be seen in a ‘more timely fashion’.

The trust also said it was looking to increase operating theatre capacity and was working with the CCG to expand community-based care.