Do you know what an Emergency Department does and doesn’t do?


NHS Ayrshire & Arran is continuing to promote our campaign encouraging people to think before attending an Emergency Department (ED).

It is our ambition to provide the best care possible for the people who really need to attend the Emergency Department - that is patients with life threatening conditions and those with injuries.

Our Emergency Departments have the highest attendance rate in Scotland. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have a sicker population. But it may mean that people don’t always know where to go when they feel they need to access healthcare. The Emergency Department may not always be the best place to treat certain conditions, and attempting to access care in the wrong place can result in prolonged waiting times for those who really need the expert services that the Emergency Department provides.

Dr Crawford McGuffie, Associate Medical Director, explains: “Increased attendances and long waiting times lead to added pressure on staff and the wider hospital system, but most importantly can delay care for the people who really need it.

“Our campaign is part of the larger ‘4Rs’ programme which aims to make sure that the ‘Right patient is seen at the Right place at the Right time with the Right clinician.’ Our key message is to let people know when is the most appropriate time to visit an ED, and what are the available alternatives.”

Emergency Departments provide care and treatment for people with life-threatening emergencies, and injuries. They do not:

  • treat conditions usually seen and better managed by a GP;
  • treat conditions previously seen by a GP;
  • provide second opinions;
  • speed up other tests and investigations;
  • treat worsening symptoms after a procedure; or
  • deal with chronic conditions.

If you do attend one of our EDs and your condition does not need the services of an Emergency Department, you may be redirected to a more appropriate service. These include NHS24, pharmacy, emergency dental service, pregnancy services and sexual health services. Redirecting patients to more appropriate services will help our Emergency Departments run more efficiently and patients will be seen quicker.

To support the campaign we have developed a poster explaining what an ED does and doesn’t do. This is displayed within the departments and has been distributed widely throughout the community. To also help spread the message, we have created a short video, starring one of our consultants in emergency medicine.

To watch the video visit our new website www.nhsaaa-beta.scot.nhs.uk/ and the video is on the homepage.