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What is the Emergency Department, (ED)

The Emergency Department is also known to many as the Accident and Emergency Department. Our Emergency Department saw over 70,000 patients between April 2020 and April 2021. The team provide a 24 hour service every day of the year.

Our emergency department is a medical treatment facility specializing in emergency medicine, minor illness and injury. It provides the acute care of patients who present without prior appointment, or are sent via the 111/GP service, either by their own means or by that of an ambulance. Due to the unplanned nature of patient attendance, the department provides initial treatment for a broad spectrum of illnesses and injuries, some of which may be life-threatening and require immediate attention.

Before you visit our Emergency Department you should consider:

  • Self-care - you may be able to treat minor illnesses or injuries such as sprains, strains, insect stings and cuts and grazes by yourself
  • Calling 111 - a nurse will give you confidential advice and information for health queries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Your local pharmacist - can give you advice for treating common illnesses and the best medicines to use
  • Visiting your GP - for medical advice, examinations or an illness or injury that requires prescriptions
  • NHS walk-in-centre - for treating minor illnesses and injuries that do not require an Emergency Department visit and without needing an appointment

Priority in the emergency department is given to those people who need immediate attention and treatment, as a result you may see patients arriving after you but being seen or treated before you. The waiting room has an electronic screen displaying the number of patients in the department and the average waiting time. If you are unsure how long it is likely that you will have to wait you can ask one of the nursing staff in the department.

What can patients expect?

If you arrive by your own means you will have to register with the reception staff, you will be assessed by a streaming nurse who will determine the nature of your illness or injury and how urgent it is for you to be seen. The length of time you will have to wait will depend on the number of patients attending at the given time and the complexity of their problems. Priority is given to those people who need immediate attention and treatment, as a result you may see patients arriving after you but being seen or treated before you. The waiting room has an electronic screen displaying the number of patients in the department and the average waiting time. If you are unsure how long it is likely that you will have to wait you can ask one of the nursing staff in the department.

Following your initial assessment you will be seen by one of the Emergency Department doctors or nurse practitioners, they will undertake a thorough assessment of your condition. You may also require investigations (e.g. x-ray, blood tests), if this is the case staff will discuss the reasons for this with you.

Whilst we do prioritise emergency department investigations, there will be a short period of waiting for results to be available. Staff will keep you informed of any unexpected delays, usually your results will be available within 90 minutes.
Following assessment and treatment our staff will provide you with further advice on your condition and how your treatment should continue. You may be referred to another specialty team if you require admission or an outpatient service or your primary care practitioner.

If you have been referred to a specialty from your GP you may be asked to attend the Emergency Department instead. This can occur depending on the nature of your condition or high volumes of patients and activity within the hospital. If this does happen you will have an initial assessment by the emergency department nursing team who will then contact the team that is expecting you so that they can come to see you at their earliest opportunity.

After the initial nursing assessment patients are allocated to specialist areas of the Emergency Department according to the nature of their injury or illness. These areas are:

  • Resuscitation - Adults and children who are critically ill e.g, after major trauma, heart attack, severe breathing problems, stroke, and unconsciousness
  • Majors - e.g. abdominal pain, unwell, overdoses, asthma
  • Minor injury - Fractures, lacerations and minor illnesses
  • Paediatrics - Children will generally be assessed in the dedicated paediatric area.

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