When Should You Use A&E?

“Crowded A&E departments are struggling to cope, but 50% of patients could be treated elsewhere.”

The Guardian


Accident & Emergency, or Anything & Everything….What does A&E stand for?

The Accident & Emergency departments in our hospitals are being increasingly used as drop-in centres, as doctor’s surgeries become overstretched and busier lives mean people can’t get to see a doctor in surgery hours.

The role of A&E departments is to deal with medical emergencies, and yet reports suggest that 50% of the 21 million patients that come through the doors could be treated elsewhere.

Most people simply don’t know when you should use A&E, and if not, where else they should go.


When Should You Use A&E?


“A&E departments assess and treat patients with serious injuries or illnesses.”

NHS Choices


The first question you should ask yourself, then, is: “Is my condition or illness serious?”

Cases that would be considered serious include loss of consciousness, acute fits, persistent or severe chest pains, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or wounding. If the illness or injury is so severe that you require an ambulance, call 999 immediately.


What Are The Other Options?


If your injury or illness is not an immediate emergency, call NHS 111, which is available 24 hours a day and can advise you on the best course of action. This is the best option if you are not sure whether you should go to A&E.

Minor injuries units and NHS walk-in centres will also see you without an appointment. For access to GPs, nurses and other primary care practitioners out of normal surgery hours, contact your local out-of-ours service. In Berkshire, we have a range of services. Click here to find out more.