This page was last updated: October 31st, 2022
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.
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.
The assessment practitioner will decide on the best course of treatment. This may involve:
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.
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 Acute Medical Unit (AMU), 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 AMU 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 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.
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.
Regrettably, our staff are sometimes the subject of inappropriate and threatening behaviour. We have a zero tolerance policy and will prosecute offenders.