Introduction

Accident and emergency departments
Accident and emergency departments

In 2014/15 Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in Wales receive an average of 82,000 visits between them every month. This is almost a million visits a year.

A&E departments assess and treat people with serious injuries or illness.  Generally, you should visit A&E or call 999 for 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

If an ambulance is needed, call 999, the emergency phone number in the UK. You can also dial 112, which is the equivalent for the European Union.

Major A&E departments are usually open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Not all hospitals have an A&E department.  Major A&Es are defined as those departments providing a consultant led 24-hour service with appropriate resuscitation facilities and designated accommodation for the reception of accident and emergency patients. These departments must provide the full range of services required at all times.

At A&E a doctor or nurse will assess your condition and decide on further action. You usually have to wait before you are seen, particularly on Friday or Saturday nights. A&E departments try to see, diagnose and treat 95% of people within four hours of arrival.

In addition to A&E departments, other services such as minor injury units are available. They can treat patients without an appointment. They deal with minor injuries and illnesses.

  • Minor injuries units offer assessment and treatment for minor injuries like sprains and strains
  • An out-of-hours doctor is always available from 6.30pm to 8am weekdays and all day weekends and bank holidays. Your Local Health Board (HB) is responsible for out-of-hours care. Provision varies in different areas so check first with your local surgery or your HB. Most surgeries do offer their own out-of-hours service.
  • Out of hours dental treatment is also provided by your HB. Only dental work considered vital that cannot wait until the next working day will be provided.
  • Contraception. Emergency contraception can stop you becoming pregnant after having unprotected sex. Two methods are available, the 'morning after' pill and the copper intrauterine device (IUD). The pill can be taken up to 72 hours after sex and is available free from your GP and most family planning clinics. It is also available from pharmacies for £26. The IUD is a plastic and copper device that is fitted into the woman’s womb by a doctor or nurse within five days of having unprotected sex.
  • Mental health emergencies. If a person's mental or emotional state gets worse quickly, this can be called a mental health emergency or mental health crisis. In this situation, it's important to get help quickly.

Often the A&E department will be at the major hospital for your area. You can use the Hospital / A&E Search facility to find A&E departments near you.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS Choices.
Last Updated: 02/02/2016 15:13:35