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Researchers Find Improvement in Casualty Waiting Times When Minor Injuries Treated Separately

Originally published 31 January 2002

Researchers at the University of Warwick's Emergency Medicine Research Group have shown that the introduction of a separate stream for minor injuries in a hospital casualty department can reduce the overall number of trauma patients having to wait over an hour for treatment by around 30%.

Dr Matthew Cooke from the University of Warwick's Centre for Primary Health Care Studies Emergency Medicine Research Group led a research team which looked at a scheme where the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital accident and emergency department set up a separate minor injuries stream system where one cubicle was set up as a desk type consulting room. One doctor was based in this room and saw any walking patients with injuries not requiring an examination couch urgent treatment. The next two patients to be seen sat in a waiting area immediately outside the room, so the doctor could call them in without any delay. Any patients requiring further treatment were then passed to a nurse who could see them in another cubicle. In this way, the doctor in the “fast track room” was continuously seeing patients.

The researchers looked at data on the waiting times from 13918 new patients seen during the 10 week research period; 7117 (51.1%) in the five week period without the streaming and 6801 (49.9%) in the second five week period when the separate stream was operational. Comparison of the two five week periods demonstrated that the proportion of patients waiting for more than one hour decreased by 32% and that the improvements in waiting times were not at the expense of patients with more urgent needs.

This evidence contributed to the national strategy on emergency care Reforming Emergency Care, which states that all accident and emergency departments will introduce streaming (

Note for Editors:
The Full research team included:

  • Dr Matthew Cooke, Centre for Primary Health Care Studies, University of Warwick
  • Dr Sue Wilson, Department of Primary Care and General Practice, Division of Primary Care Public and Occupational Health, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Sarah Pearson, New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton.

Their research was published in the Emergency Medicine Journal 2002 19:28-30

For further details please contact:

Dr Matthew Cooke, Emergency Medicine Research
Group, Centre for Primary Health Care Studies,
University of Warwick, Coventry Tel: 024 76573005

Peter Dunn, Press Officer, Public Affairs Office,
Senate House, University of Warwick, Coventry
CV4 7AL Tel: 024 76-523708

John Richardson
Head of Communications
University Hospitals
Coventry and Warwickshire
NHS Trust Tel: 024 76 535288