Emergency department (A&E)

Treating serious injuries, accidents or sudden illness 

Is the emergency department (A&E) always the best place for treatment?

With many conditions people can be more appropriately treated elsewhere – as a result patients may wait in A&E when it would be easier and more convenient to get an appointment with your GP or a local pharmacy.

Choose the right service

Find out if you should come to A&E - Choose the right service.

  • Choose the right service

    Feeling unwell or injured? You don’t need to come to A&E to be treated. Choosing the right service will help get you seen early, reducing pressure on A&E services, freeing them up to help those who need it most.

    Self care for common conditions

    Self-careCoughs and colds / diarrhoea / headache / grazes / hangover / minor illnesses / upset stomach

    Self-care is the best choice to treat very minor illnesses and injuries. A range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home simply by combining a well-stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest. They include coughs and colds, diarrhoea, headache, grazes, hangover, minor illnesses and upset stomach.

    Make sure that your medicine cabinet is well stocked with:

    • Paracetamol

    • Cough and cold remedies

    • A thermometer

    • Antihistamines

    • Ibuprofen

    • Rehydration mixture

    • Anti-diarrhoea medicine

    • Indigestion remedy

    • Plasters

    You can find information on these and other common conditions by visiting the NHS website.

    If you are a Lambeth resident, you can get more information on Lambeth CCG website.

    If you are a Southwark resident, you can find more information on Southwark CCG website.

    Speak to a pharmacist

    PharmacyDiarrhoea / headache / sore throat / painful cough / minor illnesses / upset stomach / skin conditions

    Pharmacists are medically trained and can give you expert advice on medicines and how they work. They can also help you to decide whether you'll need to see a doctor. You don't need an appointment and you won't even be asked to make a purchase. Every pharmacy also has a private consultation area for you to talk about your symptoms in private if you prefer.

    A number of local pharmacies in Lambeth and Southwark offer advice and medicines for a range of conditions, without appointment. Free emergency contraception is also available at some local pharmacies.

    Find details of your nearest pharmacy.

    Common complaints which can be treated at home with advice from the pharmacist include:

    • Skin conditions, such as mild acne and mild eczema

    • Coughs and colds including nasal congestion and sore throats

    • Minor cuts and bruises

    • Constipation and haemorrhoids (piles)

    • Hay fever and allergies

    • Aches, pains, such as headaches, earaches and backaches

    • Indigestion, diarrhoea and threadworms

    • Period pain and thrush

    • Warts and verrucas, mouth ulcer and cold sores

    • Athlete's foot

    • Nappy rash and teething

    Call NHS 111 

    NHS-111NHS 111 offers medical help and advice from fully trained advisers supported by experienced nurses and paramedics.

    You should use the NHS 111 service if:

    • you need medical help fast, but it's not a 999 emergency

    • you think you need to go to A&E or another NHS urgent care service

    • you don't know who to call for medical help or you don't have a GP to call

    • you require health information or reassurance about what to do next 

    For less urgent health needs, you should still contact your GP (family doctor) in the usual way.

    Visit 111 online for assistance. If you need to call, you can. Calls to 111 are free from landlines and mobile phones and the service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    Across South East London, NHS 111 can issue prescriptions to a pharmacy of your choice and book a face to face appointment if you need one.

    See your GP

    GP-adviceBack ache / ear pain / high temperature / vomiting

    Your GP provides a range of services by appointment and will be able to assess your immediate needs as well as refer you to a specialist service, such as outpatients, if necessary. Your GP also knows your medical history so is best placed to manage you.

    Many surgeries are open longer hours now, however, if your surgery is closed, call 111. A call to 111 will direct you to the out of hours doctors and care services.

    Access GP extended hours

    More information on Access GP extended hours.

    Visit Urgent Care Centre

    urgent-careWounds / cuts / sprains / strains / suspected broken bones

    If you have an urgent and severe but non-life threatening illness or condition then attend the urgent care centre.

    Urgent Care Centre at Guy's Hospital

    Tabard Annexe, Great Maze Pond

    London SE1 9RT

    Tel: 020 3049 8970

    Opening hours: 8am-8pm, 7 days a week (last patient at 7pm)

    Visit urgent care centre for more information. 

    999 in an emergency

    emergency-departmentBlacking out / bleeding you can't stop / severe chest pain / choking / stroke / suspected broken bones

    These are all emergencies which need urgent hospital care. Emergency departments should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation.

    These include:

    • loss of consciousness

    • serious blood loss

    • choking, severe chest pain or breathing difficulty

    • serious burns

    • strokes and persistent fits. 

    St Thomas' Hospital Emergency Department
    Westminster Bridge Road
    London SE1 7EH

    t: 020 7188 7188

    Visit St Thomas' Hospital A&E section.

    King's College Hospital Emergency Department
    Denmark Hill
    London SE5 9RS

    t: 020 3299 9000

    Visit King's College Hospital A&E section.

    Please think before you dial 999.

  • About the emergency department (A&E)

    We aim to provide 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 emergency departments use a priority system where the most seriously ill patients are seen first. 

    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.

    A significant proportion of our patients are vulnerable – they may be elderly, homeless, have mental health issues, or drug/ alcohol addiction as well as other comorbidities.

    Redirection is vital to our service to ensure that we provide the best patient care possible. We use the specialty services so that patients are seen quickly and by specialists where available.

  • How the emergency department (A&E) works

      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.

        Registration - The receptionist will call your ticket number and register you.

          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.

            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 emergency department (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 emergency department (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 emergency department (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 emergency department waiting area. St Thomas' is well served by public transport - see our travelling to St Thomas' page.

            • New dedicated emergency floor

              We have built a new dedicated emergency floor that brings together emergency services in a single area of the hospital. It ensures that 150,000 patients who visit our emergency department (A&E) each year are cared for safely and efficiently in a better environment – it also helps to improve the patient journey for the sickest patients who require admission from emergency service to intensive care and inpatient wards.

              Download the Emergency Floor map (PDF 45Kb).

            • 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.

             

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