A&E treatment and care

When you visit our A&E department the decision made about your treatment is based upon clinical expertise and your individual needs. We therefore ask that you respect our doctors’ or nurses’ decision on the treatment that has been considered best for you.


If it has been decided that you do not need to be seen today one of the following may happen:

  • You may be given an appointment in our urgent care clinic (UCC) before you leave A&E. Our urgent care clinic is based in Cayton Street opposite A&E and treats patients with less urgent eye problems.
  • You may be advised to see your GP or optometrist for a referral to your local eye clinic or to another clinic.
  • You may be asked to return to a clinic at Moorfields Eye Hospital at City Road at a different time.
  • You may be told that there is no specialist treatment required, or given advice on how to manage your symptoms at home.


Categories of A&E care

Patients are seen according to their clinical priority, and not necessarily their time of arrival.

If it has been decided that you need to be seen today, you will be classified in one of the four categories below: 

2 – Very urgent cases that need to be treated straight away by the doctor/nurse.

3 – Urgent cases that need to be treated within an hour by the doctor/nurse.

4 – Less urgent cases that still need to be seen today by the doctor/nurse

5 – Cases that may be treated by a specially-trained ophthalmic emergency nurse practitioner (ENP).


If you have been placed in categories ‘2-4’, you will be examined by a nurse who will ask some questions, check your vision, and carry out any relevant tests, after which you will be asked to wait to see a doctor.

If you have been placed in category ‘5’, you will see one of our ophthalmic emergency nurse practitioners, who will carry out a full examination and give you the appropriate treatment.


Length of your visit

We aim to see, treat, and discharge all patients within four hours. This is the national target for A&E departments, and we make every effort to see you within this time frame.

We appreciate your patience and understanding while waiting for our doctors or nurses to see and treat you.


During your wait

  • There is very limited seating space in the waiting area. Once you have been to see the triage team, we tend to prioritise this area for patients who are waiting to be seen. We therefore ask that you are accompanied by one person only whilst waiting to see the doctor or nurse.
  • Priority may be given to children and patients who are generally unwell, as they may need to be seen more urgently.
  • Patients with potentially contagious eye conditions will be asked to wait in a separate area.
  • If you start feeling unwell while you are waiting, please tell a member of staff, who will ensure that you are assessed by our nursing or medical team and given the appropriate care.
  • If you are experiencing pain, please tell the triage nurse or doctor, who can give you some pain relief medication, either in the form of eye drops or tablets.
  • If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to approach any of our staff – we are always happy to help.


Please note that we have a zero tolerance policy to verbal and physical aggression shown towards our staff.