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'Accident & Emergency'

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'The Photographer`s Story'

Harriet Logan photographed in the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow and with the Sheffield and Scottish Ambulance Services.

"I was shocked by the number of people who go in to Accident and Emergency when they don't need to be there. People who'd had car accidents three weeks ago and had a bit of pain in their neck. And people using ambulances as a taxi service when they come out of the pubs.

"I always had the idea that A&E would be constantly filled with trauma patients and rushing staff. I suppose I had been conditioned by the glamorous way it is portrayed on TV. In fact, many patients come with minor injuries. Anything from sprained ankles to cut fingers.

"Glasgow was very busy. They have more stabbings than any other city. One night there were six, but few are ever reported to the police. Many patients come after a heavy night's drinking, and are belligerent to staff.

"Ambulance teams are incredibly brave, and tactful. They have to get people into hospital as fast as possible but some are drunk, or under the influence of drugs. If a patient becomes violent, they're stuck with them in a fast-moving vehicle.

"When someone is brought in very ill, it's the A&E team's job to stabilise that patient. With cardiac arrest, there could be from five to eight people working on the patient. It's very quiet - there's no shouting and yelling. Everybody knows what their job is and they get on with it.

"The workers all have an incredible sense of humour, right through from the doctors to the ambulance technicians. They are exposed to some terrible things and need to laugh to survive emotionally.

"It's always the stuff that goes wrong that you hear about but most people are successfully and very well treated. And people rarely say thankyou."

England and Wales have 225 Accident and Emergency units.

The most common conditions presented are cuts, bruises and grazes; the 'walking wounded' make up some two thirds of casualty patients. Young adults and children make the most use of A&E, with elderly people comparatively light users.

Violence against staff is being tackled by the NHS as an important problem. A recent Health Education Authority survey suggested that up to 8 out of 10 people needing treatment on Friday and Saturday nights have drink-related accidents or problems.

In England alone, some four million ambulance journeys are made each year.

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