Emergency Zone Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to be in the Emergency Department?
Is it an emergency?
- Pharmacists can help with many ailments, from colds to long-term conditions.
- Your GP can help with ongoing health conditions and non-urgent medical matters.
- Call NHS 111 if you need urgent medical help but it's not an emergency.
- Our Minor Injuries Unit can help with cuts that need stitches and broken bones.
- Our Emergency Department treat serious and life threatening emergencies.
Which Investigations will I have?
Xrays, blood tests and other investigations are arranged at the discretion of the doctor or practitioner seeing you. You may feel you need a certain test but you do not get one. This is because all tests carry risks and unless the treatment will be different with the result we try to avoid testing everyone.
Xrays are reported in the following few days by a radiologist (specialist doctor) and you may be contacted if this reveals anything new though this is uncommon.
What happens if I have been already referred to a Specialty in the hospital?
If you have been referred by your GP or another hospital to a particular team you will often have to register at the emergency department.
Certain conditions still get seen by the ED practitioners but others will be seen directly by the speciality doctors after the GP.
Although this team will be expecting you, they may not be able to see you immediately. This is because they cover the whole hospital and may be busy with an ill patient on the ward or in theatre.
Can I get a second opinion in ED?
Unfortunately we are unable to provide a second opinion and there are some tests and appointments that only your GP can provide.
What do the different areas mean?
See and treat
This is our minor injuries unit and where most injuries get seen. Our minor injuries unit staff finish at 1am after which time patients with minor injuries attend the main department. If you are arriving in ED in the late evening with a minor injury your wait may be considerably longer.
This is where patients who are seriously medically unwell get assessed and treated. Patients sometimes get moved from here to another area to create space for the new patients arriving all the time.
This where our most unwell patients are cared for and receive emergency treatments.
Seated Assessment Area
This is an area with reclining chairs where some patients who are mobile are seen. There is the same investigations and doctors available as in the majors area. Some patients may be transferred here after being seen to wait for test results or treatments.
We know that often people wait in the emergency department for a number of hours. If you or your relative are due regular medications during this time please check with your doctor or nurse if you should take them. In the majority of cases we encourage patients to take their regular medications as missing doses can make you more unwell.
Do I get a discharge summary after attending ED?
Your GP will get a brief letter to inform them of your attendance at the emergency department and what tests you have had done. If you have been advised in ED to follow up with your GP we encourage you to arrange an appointment to see them rather than wait for them to get in touch.
Can I get a sick note from ED?
We do not provide sick notes in the emergency department.
You can self-certify (be off work) for 1 week legally before your employer can demand a sick note. If you are likely to need to be off work longer than this please make an appointment with your GP to discuss a sick note.
How can I give feedback about ED?
You can give feedback via the Friends and Family Test.
For advice, support, to say thank you or to raise a concern contact Advice & Complaints.
Like all Emergency Departments, we use a priority system where the most seriously ill patients are seen first. Patients may be seen by doctors or nurse practitioners and therefore may be called in before you even if they arrive after.
The approximate wait time will usually be displayed on the reception desk. While it may look quiet in the waiting room, there are other areas of the department that may be busy.
If you decide not to wait, please let the receptionists know before you leave.
How do I get pain relief?
If you need any pain relief whilst waiting, please speak to the triage nurse when called through, if you need any further pain relief, let the receptionists know and they can speak to the nurses.
We don’t routinely discharge people with painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen but will advise on if/how to take these safely on discharge.
What do I do if I need a quiet space?
Please ask the triage nurse if you would benefit from a quieter space and we will do our best to accommodate this.
Where can I get refreshments?
Vending machines can be found at the back of the waiting room. For any issues, please call the number displayed on the machine as these are supplied by an external company.
There are Cafes & Shops on Level 1, Brunel building.
Where can I get cash?
There is a cashpoint on Level 1 in the main Atrium opposite the pharmacy. Unfortunately we do not have change on reception for vending machines and there are no change machines in the hospital.
How does the parking for ED work?
The 20 minute drop-off bay is time limited and checked regularly.
The car park outside ED is 24hours and parking can be paid for using the machines outside on the left of the ED entrance.
Parking can be paid for using cash, card or the app when you leave the department. Please press the help button on the machines for any issues.
More information can be found at Southmead Hospital Bristol.
How can I get a taxi from ED?
There is a phone on the reception desk that you may use to call a taxi. There is usually taxi numbers next to the phone. If you would like reception to assist you, please ask.
How does the free WiFi work?
Find out about the WiFi