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Accident and emergency (A&E)

Treating serious injuries, accidents or sudden illness 


Is A&E always the best place for treatment?

If you have been suffering from a medical problem for more than 48 hours you should first try calling your GP surgery or NHS Direct on 0845 4647. If you have a minor injury or illness, you may find it easier to go to the urgent care centre| at Guy's Hospital.

Our choose well leaflet| (PDF 72Kb) can help you choose the right place to go for care.

About A&E

We treat patients who have suffered a recent injury or accident or who have developed a sudden illness. All A&E departments use a priority system where the most seriously ill patients are seen first. stethoscope

We may direct you somewhere else if:

  • the nurse thinks that your condition is not an accident or an emergency
  • you have certain symptoms that mean you need to be seen in one of our specialty areas.
  • How A&E works

    1. take a ticket and wait
    2. registration: a receptionist will call your ticket number and you will be asked to register your details - We need this information so that we can produce a treatment card for you.  All the information that you give us will be treated in confidence
    3. nurse assessment: some people need further assessment. A nurse will call you by name to assess the seriousness of your condition. He/she may also arrange some tests for you
    4. treatment: not everyone is treated by the same doctors and nurses. If you have a:

      • minor injury or illness, you will be sent to our urgent care centre. This is manned during the day by emergency nurse practitioners (ENPs) and GPs
      • more complicated condition, you will be seen by one of our A&E doctors.

    Watch our video about visiting A&E and give us your feedback about our service.

  • Specialty areas

    If you have been referred by your GP or another hospital to a particular team, you will have to register at A&E first. Although the team will be expecting you, they may not be able to see you immediately.

    • eye casualty - for patients with an eye problem
    • Burrell Street - our free and confidential specialist sexual health service
    • antenatal day assessment unit - for women with pregnancy-related problems over 18 weeks gestation
    • emergency gynaecology unit - for women with gynaecological problems or pregnancy-related problems under 18 weeks gestation
    • children's A&E - there is a separate team of children's nurses and doctors (for children under 16) within A&E. Go straight to the separate children's waiting and treatment area. 
  • Going home

    We will send your GP a letter with details of your visit to A&E. The doctor/nurse who treated you will also give you a copy of the letter before you leave. 

    If you need to attend the fracture or plastics clinic, our reception staff will book you an appointment immediately. Please make sure we have given you an appointment card before you leave. If you need any other clinic, you will be contacted over the next few days. Please make sure we have your correct contact details.

    We are unable to provide transport home for most patients. If you want to order a taxi, there is a free phone in the A&E waiting area. St Thomas' is well served by public transport - see our travelling to St Thomas' page.

Violent or aggressive behaviour

Our staff should be able to carry out their work without fearing for their safety.We do not tolerate threatening or aggressive behaviour towards staff. Anyone who behaves in this way or who damages hospital property will be asked to leave by our security staff.

If appropriate, we will take legal action and press for the maximum penalty.

Facts and figures about A&E

  • we have one of the NHS’s busiest A&E departments, with 140,000 attendances in 2012-13. That’s around:
    • 380 patients a day in total
    • 185 patients a day seen for serious issues/conditions
    • 125 patients a day are seen in our Urgent Care Centre (UCC) which deals with urgent, but minor injuries
    • 60 young patients a day are seen in children's A&E
    • 105 ambulances a day
    • 27 patients a day are admitted to the Emergency Medical Unit (EMU)
    • seven young patients a day are admitted to Evelina London from children's A&E
  • we currently have the top performing A&E in South London
  • Monday is usually the busiest day of the week
  • a significant proportion of our patients are vulnerable – they may be homeless, have mental health issues, or drug/ alcohol addiction.

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