Is the A&E Dept the right place to go after an accident?

Vicki Wright, Havant solicitor specialising in personal injury advice, comments further on medical treatment in cases where emergency care is required.

It transpires that around 22,000 attend the Casualty Department at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth when in reality, they could perhaps be going elsewhere for medical treatment, for example, their doctor, the local walk-in clinic or the pharmacist.  And this is costing the hospital millions of pounds that could be spent in different ways.

As a personal injury lawyer, I have inevitably met with many individuals who have suffered injuries in a serious accident and who have quite rightly attended the Accident and Emergency Department.  But it is fair to say that some injuries are less serious and although regarded as a medical emergency, could be treated more appropriately elsewhere, for example in the local walk-in clinic.

Walk-in centres and minor injury units are for medical emergencies that require urgent treatment but which are non-life threatening emergencies.  These units are designed to take the pressure away from our busy Accident and Emergency Departments and deal with a variety of problems including fractures and lacerations, minor cuts and bruising and minor burns.  Of course, it may well be the case that when you are seen at the walk-in centre, you are advised to attend the closest accident and emergency department. More likely, however, the staff at the walk-in centre will be able to provide appropriate medical treatment.  Indeed, recent figures indicate that of approx 42,500 people who attended the St Mary’s Walk-In Centre in Portsmouth, only around 650 needed to be transferred to the Casualty Department at the Queen Alexandra Hospital.

In other circumstances, it may be appropriate to contact your local pharmacist who obviously have a wealth of experience in medicines but who can also offer advice with regard to relatively minor injuries and who, at the very least, can advise as to whether the individual should attend the emergency department.

Vicki Wright, Personal Injury Solicitor at Swain & Co, comments “It is becoming apparent that the number of people who are attending the Casualty Departments at their local hospital in situations which are not emergencies is high. The bottom line, of course, is that they are slowing down the system and ultimately using up valuable resources for those people who genuinely need emergency medical services.”

So in future, if you have suffered an injury that requires emergency medical treatment, do you really need to attend your local Casualty Department?