Emergency Department (A&E)
For illnesses and injuries that are serious or life threatening
An A&E department (also known as emergency department or casualty) deals with genuine life-threatening emergencies, such as:
- loss of consciousness
- acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
- persistent, severe chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds
Less severe injuries can be treated in urgent care centres or minor injuries units (MIUs). An A&E is not an alternative to a GP appointment. If your GP practice is closed you can call NHS 111, which will direct you to the best local service to treat your injury. Alternatively, you can visit an NHS walk-in centre (WIC), which will also treat minor illnesses without an appointment
If you arrive by ambulance, the ambulance crew will report to the hospital on arrival. If you are seriously ill, the staff will already know because the ambulance crew will have alerted them en route. If you’re not in a life-threatening or serious condition, you will be prioritised by the A&E hospital team along with other patients waiting to be seen – arriving by ambulance does not necessarily mean you will be seen sooner than if you had walked in to A&E.
If you go to A&E by yourself, you’ll need to register first. You’ll be asked a few questions such as name and address but also why you are visiting A&E. If you have been at the hospital before the registrar may also check your health records.