The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospitals are now part of the University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust, please find us at www.uhd.nhs.uk. You can also still call us on 01202 303626

University Hospitals Dorset
Home » Our Services » Clinical Services » Emergency Department » What to expect

What to expect

Highlights from our latest ward scorecard results can be viewed here. This includes actions that have been undertaken following the results and comments received.

Waiting to be seen

When you arrive at the Emergency Department (ED) you will be greeted by a receptionist. She will ask for details about yourself and book you on to our system. This should only take a minute or two. Please make sure you give us your most up to date contact details and next of kin, as we may need to contact you after your visit. 


You will then be asked to take a seat in the waiting room.

You will be called by a triage nurse whose role is to assess your problem and decide how urgently you require treatment. The triage nurse will decide who you will be seen by in one of our specialist areas of the ED, depending on your injury or illness.

The triage nurse can carry out basic first aid, and you might find that they are able to treat you and immediately discharge you from the department. The triage nurse may also decide that it would be more appropriate for you to be seen by a different health care provider, such as an out of hours GP, or a dentist.

The triage nurses may need to arrange for some investigations to be done before you can see a doctor/Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP), such as blood tests or x-rays.

Patients are allocated for treatment depending on the nature and seriousness of their problem. How long you will have to wait will also depend on the number of patients currently in the department and the complexity of their problems.

For these reasons, you may find that patients who arrived after you are seen before you. We understand that this can be frustrating but appreciate your patience. 

If you have been brought in by ambulance, you will still be assessed by a triage nurse.

Examination and treatment

After seeing the triage nurse you will be asked to return to the waiting room until a clinician (a doctor or an ENP) is available to see you. Alternatively, the triage nurse may decide that you require a bed; in which case you will either be taken to a different area of the ED straight away or asked to wait until a bed becomes available.

A clinician will call your name from the waiting room to speak to you about your problem, perform any necessary examinations and may request any further investigations; such as x-rays, blood tests or tests that monitor your heart rate.

The clinician will then decide on what action needs to be taken and arrange for any necessary treatment or medications. You will then be discharged from the department, admitted to the Emergency Department’s Observation Ward (for further assessments, investigations or decisions to be made) or admitted to a ward in the hospital.


The NHS has a standard in place for Emergency Departments whereby 95% of all patients should be seen, treated and discharged within four hours of arrival.

Follow up

If the doctor or ENP assigned to your care feels that you can leave hospital they will let you know what follow up you require before you leave. In most cases, this will likely be one of the following:

  • To see your GP for a review, further tests or a referral to another specialty
  • A referral to an outpatient clinic or service that specialises in your condition, e.g. a Fracture Clinic
  • An appointment to the ED Review Clinic at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital to be followed up by one of our Consultants

Your GP will receive a letter to advise them that you have attended the Emergency Department. This letter will include any instructions or advice for follow up. For this reason, it is important that you are registered with a nearby GP and that you keep us informed of any changes to either your GP or your own contact details