Nearly half of A&E patients 'don't need medical treatment'

  • Accident & Emergency is busiest on Monday mornings

Millions of patients who visit A&E and minor injury units every year leave without requiring any treatment, a new report has revealed.

Data from the NHS Information Centre for England shows many of the four in ten people who are not hurt or ill leave these departments having only received advice.

Of the 10.3 million visits in 2009/10 where details were recorded, around 3.9 million ended with the patient receiving guidance.

New figures reveal the busiest time in A&E is 10am on a Monday morning

New figures reveal the busiest time in A&E; is 10am on a Monday morning

Another one in eight - 1.2 million - were recorded as requiring neither advice nor treatment.

Today's report covers 15.6 million records from A&E departments, minor injury clinics and walk-in centres.

Casualty: As many as four in ten people attend A&E with no injuries at all

Casualty: As many as four in ten people attend A&E; with no injuries at all

It represents about three-quarters of emergency and unplanned activity in the NHS and covers 172 of 263 providers of emergency services in England.

The study also showed around half a million patients leave A&E or injury units before being treated.

The busiest time in A&E is 10am on a Monday morning, with patients typically spending around nine minutes in the department before being assessed.

They tend to stay there for 55 minutes before being treated and just over two hours before they get to go home.

NHS Information Centre chief executive, Tim Straughan, said: 'This is the third year we have been able to publish detailed A&E information - offering an illuminating insight into the scale and type of activity taking place after a person comes through a department's doors.

'This report highlights the scale to which A&E staff offer advice and reassurance to patients, rather than give any medical treatment.

'It also shows a significant number of patients were recorded as leaving the department without having had any advice or treatment.'

John Heyworth, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: 'The College of Emergency Medicine does not dispute the validity of this data; however, it is important to differentiate the types of facilities included within the report.

Long wait: Patients tend to stay for 55 minutes before being treated and just over two hours before they get to go home

Long wait: Patients tend to stay for 55 minutes before being treated and just over two hours before they get to go home

'Walk-in centres and minor injuries units are set up specifically to deal with larger numbers of people not necessarily requiring treatment, to allow Emergency Departments to focus on patients requiring more urgent attention and treatment.

'It would be incorrect to assume that the overall report findings would apply to true Emergency Departments, and therefore misleading to the public to group these facilities together.

'The College welcomes all research into the management of patients within the Emergency Department and in the future would like to work alongside NHS Information Centre to gather such statistics.'

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