About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland covers attendances that took place at the 30 Emergency Departments (EDs) in Scotland in the year ending 31 May 2021. It includes new and return unplanned attendances, including when patients arrive at EDs, seasonal patterns and patient demographics.

Main points

During the year ending 31 May 2021:

  • There were 1.1 million attendances at EDs in Scotland; lower than the 1.4 million annual average during 2017 to 2019 prior to the Coronavirus outbreak.
  • Patterns of referral source and discharge destination from EDs as well as patient demographics have been consistent with previous years.
  • Just over half of patients (54%) attending an ED were self-presenters.
Image caption Monthly discharge destination from Emergency Department attendances for year ending 31 May 2021, Scotland
Monthly discharge destination from Emergency Department attendances, NHSScotland, 01 June 2020 to 31 May 2021.
  • Two thirds of patients (66%) attending an ED were discharged home, 31% were admitted to the same hospital, and 2% were transferred to another health and social care service such as a psychiatric hospital, specialist centres or out of hours GP service.
  • Individuals living in the most deprived areas accounted for more than twice as many attendances as those from the least deprived areas.
  • Patients aged 90 or over had the highest admission rate (21,530 attendances, of which 71.9% were admitted).¬† Children aged 0 to 4 years had the highest number of attendances (84,086, 7.8% of all attendances).¬† This is consistent with data from previous years.


Data on A&E service attendances across Scotland are collected on local systems, then extracted and submitted to Public Health Scotland on a weekly basis. All sites that provide emergency care are required to submit data to the A&E datamart. There are two types of data submitted to the A&E datamart: episode and aggregate level data. All hospitals with Emergency Departments submit episode level data containing a detailed record for each patient attendance. Each record contains demographic information about the patient, time points in the pathway (date/time of arrival and discharge), information on diagnosis, referral source and discharge destination.

Further information

The next release of this publication is July 2022.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2022
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