VISITS to A&E have continued to plummet at Oxfordshire’s hospitals during the coronavirus crisis dropping to almost half that of last year, new figures show.

NHS England data reveals 6,891 A&E attendances were recorded at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which runs the John Radcliffe Hospital, last month.

This was a 49 per cent decrease from April last year, when there were 13,583.

The drop was even steeper than in March, when A&E visits at both Emergency Departments fell by more than a quarter (27.5 per cent) – with 10,408 visits compared to 14,370 in the same month a year ago.

Hospital bosses have been so concerned people are staying away to avoid 'being a burden' they have warned avoiding medical care for serious conditions, like stroke or heart problems, could prove fatal.

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The sharp drop at the trust reflects the picture across England, where accident and emergency departments were at their quietest for any month on record.

At OUH the fall in attendances was less severe than nationally, however, with 917,000 A&E attendances in April 2020, down 57 per cent from 2.1 million in 2019.

At Sunday’s Downing Street coronavirus press conference, NHS national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said the latest figures from Public Health England suggested people were returning to A&E, with those seeking help about cardiac and coronary conditions recovered to normal levels, after significantly falling in late March and early April.

A spokesperson for OUH said the trust was continuing to see a reduction in levels of attendances compared to the same time last year, and that unlike the NHS national medical director’s comments, the trust had not seen cardiac and coronary attendances return to expected levels yet.

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A statement from the hospital stressed the potentially deadly consequences of delaying treatment, saying: “We would still like to remind people that their Emergency Departments are still available to those who need urgent medical care, and of the importance of using services if you feel that your health is at risk. Avoiding medical care can lead to reduced recovery rates, and even prove fatal.

“The Emergency Departments at both the John Radcliffe and Horton General hospitals are still open to anyone who becomes ill with serious health conditions, including heart conditions, stroke, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness, or heavy bleeding.

"This also applies to children, with the John Radcliffe having a dedicated Emergency Department for younger patients. All of these are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We have systems in place to triage patients with suspected Covid-19, so everyone who comes to our hospitals will be treated in a safe manner.”