A REPORT COMMISSIONED by the independent watchdog Healthwatch Oxford, and carried out by Oxford University students, has revealed that more than 20% of male students use the accident and emergency department at the John Radcliffe hospital during their time at Oxford.
A&E attendance in Oxford for the general population is usually between 9-18%, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, suggesting Oxford students are more prone to serious accidents or injuries.
The OUSU welfare team told Cherwell that they have been “working with Healthwatch and with the students who compiled this report to consider how best the overuse of A&E can be combatted”. A spokesperson explained, “The key task is to ensure that students know which of the many services they should use in which situation: should it be 999, A&E, the minor injuries unit, the GP, the non-emergency phone number 111, or just self-care.
“Equally important is that, when a student doesn’t need to go to A&E, but they are in a lot of pain, they are able to access interim support, for example by getting advice from a pharmacy or from 111.”
Responding to the report, a Jesus fresher wasn’t surprised by the findings. They commented, “I saw someone knocked over right outside of college on Tuesday, luckily the emergency services were able to provide assistance.”
Meanwhile, a third year Mathematician explained that, after breaking his leg during a college rugby match, his treatment at A&E had been exemplary. He told Cherwell, “The doctors and nurses were very helpful and friendly.” The student in question, whose situation was complicated due to being an international student added, “In Spain there is also ‘free medical care’, but you would never receive any medical attention until you could prove you were a resident. In Oxford, I got transported to the hospital, they gave me an X-ray, bandaged my leg up, and after everything was done they asked for my name even though I didn’t have my ID on me. I’m very impressed with the hospital service here — my only criticism is that the queues in the JR are quite long, but you can expect that from a free healthcare service!”
Another student praised the treatment he was given after splitting his forehead open in an alcohol related injury, explaining, “They didn’t treat me like a drunken fresher.”
In order to combat high A&E attendance, an OUSU spokesperson explained, “Communication is the key to ensuring A&E isn’t used when it shouldn’t be.”
The report also highlighted concerns over mental health services in Oxford, with fear of stigmatisation being a main concern for those considering discussing mental health. A campaigns officer at student-led charity Student Minds said, “There are many outlets for students to discuss mental health here in Oxford. Student Minds is just one of them that seeks to raise awareness of mental health, as well as providing support to those in need.”
The John Radcliffe Hospital declined to comment on the Healthwatch report.