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Coming to A&E

Staff member in A&E working on notes in reception
Staff member in A&E working on notes in reception

We provide 24-hour accident and emergency (A&E) facilities at both the Epsom and St Helier hospitals.

We also have an A&E for eye emergencies at Sutton Hospital. This department is open between 8.30am and 5pm (reception closes at 4.30pm).

There is also a dedicated paediatric A&E area at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, where children under the age of 16 are seen.

The emergency departments treat patients who have suffered a serious injury or accident, or who have developed a sudden serious illness or medical condition. Patients with minor injuries or illnesses may be treated in a minors area of the department by emergency nurse practitioners. At St Helier Hospital, we have an urgent care centre for minor injuries and illnesses.

Please note that patients with the most serious injuries or illnesses will be treated first.

When to use A&E

The function of the A&E department is to treat patients who have either suffered a serious injury or accident, or, who are suffering from a sudden and serious illness or condition.

If you, or the person you are with, are suffering from any of the conditions listed below please go straight to A&E or call an ambulance by dialling 999:

  • Suspected heart attack

  • Chest pain

  • Stroke and transient ischaemic attack (TIA)

  • Unconsciousness

  • Heavy blood loss

  • Suspected broken bones

  • Deep wounds such as stab wounds

  • Severe breathing difficulties

  • Head injury

Examples of when A&E should not be used

  • Coughs and colds - most people would be best just to stay at home or see their local pharmacist

  • Old injuries or joint problems - are best seen by your GP, at least initially

  • Queries about medication - these are best dealt with by your GP

  • Toothache - you need to be seen by a dentist

  • Trying to use A&E to get a 'second opinion' rather than using the GP service

  • Relatives of patients who book in because they might as well as they are waiting anyway

  • Patients who book in to A&E because they can't get a GP appointment until the next day.

If you are not sure what health service is right for you, or would like help or advice, please call NHS 111.

NHS 111 is available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, for urgent, but not life-threatening, medical help or advice. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

Call 111 if you:

  • Need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency
  • Think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service
  • Don't know who to call or you don't have a GP to call
  • Need health information or reassurance about what to do next.

When you call NHS 111, you will speak to a trained adviser (advisers are supported by experienced nurses and paramedics). They will ask you questions to assess your symptoms, then give you the healthcare advice you need or direct you to the local service that can help you best. That could be A&E, an out-of-hours doctor, an urgent care centre or a walk-in centre, a community nurse, an emergency dentist or a late-opening pharmacy.

You can also visit the NHS Choice website for health advice.

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