Emergency department (A&E)

Treating serious injuries, accidents or sudden illness 

Location

  • St Thomas' Hospital
    Accident and emergency (A&E)
    Westminster Bridge Road
    London SE1 7EH

    Open: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

  • St Thomas' Hospital map

    Download the map (PDF 110Kb)

Is the emergency department (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 111. If you have a minor injury or illness, you may find it easier to go to the Urgent Care Centre at Guy's hospital.

If you are not sure if the emergency department is the best place to go, visit the Health Help Now website. This service aims to help you find the right care when you need medical help fast but it is not a life-threatening emergency.

About the emergency department (A&E)

We aim to provide gold-standard emergency care and improved health outcomes for all our patients through education, research, and leadership development. In 2016, the emergency department got an 'outstanding' rating from the Care Quality Commission inspection.

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 the emergency department (A&E) works

    1. Streaming
      If you arrive at the pedestrian entrance, you will be greeted by a nurse who will ask you a few questions, give you a numbered ticket and direct you to the reception.
    2. Registration
      The receptionist will call your ticket number and register you.
    3. Nurse assessment
      Some people need more assessment after registration. A nurse will call you by name to assess the seriousness of your condition. They may also arrange for some tests.
    4. Treatment
      You will be sent to one of the treatment areas. Not everyone is treated by the same doctors or nurses. Your treatment depends on your condition.

      If you have a minor injury or illness, you will be directed to our Urgent Care Centre. This is staffed with GPs and emergency nurse practitioners.

      If you have a more complex condition, you will be seen by one of our emergency doctors.

      Please remember that waiting times can differ between treatment areas and specialists, so other people may be called more quickly than you.

    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. You may be redirected to speciality services within our Trust such as:

    • 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
    • early pregnancy and 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.

St Thomas' Emergency Floor development

The Trust is investing £20 million to rebuild the A&E department at St Thomas’ and redesign the whole ‘pathway’ of emergency care for seriously ill patients who need to be admitted to hospital.

Dr Simon Eccles, consultant in emergency medicine who is leading work to transform the emergency care pathway, explains: “We’ve reached the half way point of the project and we’ve successfully completed the biggest physical change. Our two acute medical wards, which were located on the 9th and 10th floors of East Wing, have moved down to the ground floor to become our new Admission Ward.
 
“The ward is now on the ground floor next to the Emergency Department. The move has reduced what used to be a 30-minute journey out of the department and up all those floors in a lift to a five-minute journey just across the corridor. We’re saving our patients and staff a lot of time.”

Faisal Maramazi onthe Admission WardPatients are already seeing the benefits.

Faisail Maramazi, 32, from Southwark, was on the Admission Ward after the discovery of a blood clot on his lung. He said: “The ward is very bright and very clean, they’ve changed my bedding every day. Patients are not here for fun, but the polite and responsive staff can make you forget your pain.”

Learn more about the Emergency Floor development (PDF) and download the Emergency Floor map (PDF 45Kb). 

All emergency care services will remain open throughout the redevelopment, which started in March 2014 and is due for completion in 2016.

Facts and figures about the emergency department (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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