Accident & Emergency

When should you visit A&E?

A&E is there to deal with genuine life-threatening emergencies. It is for serious accidents or serious emergencies such as Chest Pain, unconsciousness, Breathing Difficulties, Broken Bones, Deep Wounds or Heavy Blood Loss.

If you come to A&E and it is not the best place for you to be treated, you may be redirected by staff towards the correct service for your needs. This could include a pharmacy, or your local GP. For more information please call NHS 24 on 111. More information on the Redirection process can be found in the Redirection Policy - Emergency Deparment (ED) policy document.

What should you do in an emergency?

If your condition is life-threatening, you should call 999 or go straight to A&E.

If it’s an emergency, and you need access to urgent care, but it’s not life-threatening, you should always first phone NHS 24 on 111, or, speak to your local GP before attending A&E.

NHS 24 or your GP will be able to provide you with the correct advice and treatment or refer you directly to the most appropriate service for your needs.

If you are referred to A&E by your GP or by NHS 24 you may be given time to attend

About the hospital and our facilities 

The Accident and Emergency department is situated near the main entrance of the Gilbert Bain Hospital in the town of Lerwick. It is the only general hospital serving the population of Shetland. It deals with all major/minor trauma and illness from within Shetland and from surrounding waters. There are many incidents in the North Sea involving fishing boats and oil workers, these can range from major trauma/illness to minor injury/illness.

The main entrance to the hospital is also the entrance to A&E. All ambulance cases come through the main hospital entrance.

We are a team of 22 registered nurses, five of these nurses have had extra training to provide a range of care for minor injuries and ailments. Medical care is provided by surgical and medical junior doctors and Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) supported by Consultants. A&E staff work closely with multi-disciplinary teams within and outwith NHS Shetland.

We provide care for patients attending Accident and Emergency with major illness and trauma and minor injuries and ailments. Fracture clinic care is provided by nursing staff who apply and remove all casts. We also provide care for mental health patients. Outwith GP surgery hours we act as a primary care centre through NHS 24. We are also a resource for air ambulance equipment and staff for transfers. Many of the staff have gone through training for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) incidents and are fully trained in decontaminating patients.

We also have SDEC (Same Day Emergency Care) unit which is located near the A&E department and is for urgent care including transfusions, scans, and reviews. It is also a step down area from A&E if patients need further treatment and investigations before being discharged home.


  • Three patient cubicles, one designed to accommodate children's needs.
  • Plaster room which is also used for treating minor injuries.
  • Sisters office.
  • Resuscitation room which has two beds and is used for the more major cases.
  • Eye examination area
  • SDEC – Two bed spaces and chair space