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Emergency and Urgent Care

The Emergency Department (ED) is open 24 hours a day for the treatment of serious and potentially life threatening conditions. We also have an Urgent Care Centre at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance. We can treat more than 200 patients a day and see more than 60,000 patients a year across these two departments.

Suspected stroke? Chest pain? Serious injury? Choking? Traumatic blood loss? Loss of consciousness? Call 999 or visit the Emergency Department

If you are unsure whether ED is the right place to go, you can call NHS 111 for advice at any time of the day or night on 111, or check this guide to urgent care in Cornwall.The ED has close links with the Cornwall Air Ambulance, which is able to land directly outside the main department on a purpose­-built helipad with another larger helipad at the rear of the hospital for Royal Navy and other helicopters.

What happens when I visit the Emergency Department?

The Emergency Department can get very busy. Most patients are seen and treated, admitted or discharged within 4 hours and the most seriously ill patients will always take priority.

Who will I see?

A specially trained emergency practitioner (a doctor, nurse or paramedic) will see patients as soon as possible after their arrival. They’ll do an immediate assessment of the patient’s condition and go through a patient assessment questionnaire.

When will I be treated?

The assessment practitioner 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 part of the department to be seen by another practitioner
  • Getting a doctor to examine you

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 12 Minor Injury Units (MIU) around the county. The Urgent Care Centre in Penzance can also treat many conditions, but in an Emergency always call 999.

Emergency Referrals from your GP

If you are very unwell, your GP may arrange for you to come to hospital as an emergency.

This usually means you will be taken to hospital by ambulance. You’ll be brought to the Medical Admissions Unit (MAU), the Surgical Receiving Unit, the Emergency Department at the Royal Cornwall Hospital or the Urgent Care Centre at West Cornwall Hospital. We also have children’s and maternity specialists on hand when needed.

Depending on the circumstances of your referral and instructions from your GP, you may receive assessment and initial treatment in the Emergency Department, or you may go directly to the MAU or surgical receiving unit.

When you arrive a clerk will speak to you or the ambulance crew bringing you to hospital. We’ll ask a few questions so that we can provide you with effective treatment and follow up care.

If your relative or friend has been admitted as an emergency

If your family member or friend has been admitted to hospital as an emergency, you can find out what to bring and what to expect when you arrive here.

Being seen at the Urgent Care Centre at West Cornwall Hospital

The Urgent Care Centre at West Cornwall Hospital is open 24 hours and treats patients with a range of conditions. The department sees, on average, 22,000 patients each year, which is approximately 60 patients per day.

A qualified nurse assesses each patient as soon as possible after they have registered. As you’d expect, we assess patients in order of urgency and not necessarily in order of arrival. We’ll then either treat the patient in the department or, if necessary, admit them to the hospital’s medical assessment unit or surgical ward. Many patients can be seen by an Emergency Nurse Practitioner and may be called ahead of patients needing to see the doctor.

Seriously ill patients who need a full trauma service, intensive or specialist care, will be transferred directly to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

Safety in our Emergency Departments

Regrettably, our staff are sometimes the subject of inappropriate and threatening behaviour. We have a zero tolerance policy and will prosecute offenders.