Emergency Department

The Emergency Department (ED) - often referred to as A&E -  is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the treatment of serious and potentially life threatening conditions.    

Derriford ED is a large modern department, part of a designated major trauma centre.  Each year we see over 100 000 new patients per year - this includes around 25,000 children and young people - and our staff see and treat more than 1,800 people every week.  We have strong links with the Defence Medical Services and British Antartic Survey Unit (BASMU).  More information about University Hospital Plymouth can be found here.

The Emergency Department is for the most seriously ill or injured patients and we ask you to consider whether you need urgent and emergency care services. 

What happens when I get to the ED? 

If you do need to come to hospital we will do our best to see you as quickly as possible, but please be aware that at particularly busy times this may take longer than we would like. Most patients are seen and treated, admitted or discharged within 4 hours and the most seriously ill patients will always take priority.

Once you're at the ED, please register at reception. A doctor or nurse will assess your condition in an area called START (senior triage and rapid treatment) and decide on further action. Please be aware that you may have a short wait before you are seen, as this ensures people with the most serious conditions are seen first.

You may then be referred to one of our treatment areas: resuscitation room, majors (trolley); ambulatory or minor injuries. You can find more information about each area here (link to new page: ED areas). Within these areas we are able to access all other hospital departments to offer medical and surgical assessments and urgent treatment.

When will I be treated?

The triage team in START will decide on the best course of treatment. This may involve:

  • Treating you there and then
  • Sending you for an x­-ray
  • Sending you to another area in the department to be seen by another practitioner

Occasionally, the ED may not be the best place to treat your condition and you may be advised to go somewhere else, such as a GP, dentist, pharmacist or one of the Minor Injury Units (MIU). 

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