Although public engagement in debates about A&E closures is high, there is little information on how the distances involved in receiving emergency care have changed.

Having a clear picture of the current distances involved in receiving emergency care is important when considering the impact of changes in hospital and A&E locations.

We have examined over a decade’s worth of data to assess whether the distances between the hospital where patients receive emergency care and their home has changed. This is the first time such an analysis has been carried out.

The findings show that for the vast majority of people the distance from their home to the hospital in which they received an emergency admission is not very far, with 70% of emergency admissions occurring within 6.2 miles (10km) of the patient’s home.

70% of emergency admissions occur within 6.2 miles (10km) of the patient’s home

These figures show that there has been a slight increase in the average distance between a person’s home and the hospital at which they can receive emergency care between 2001 and 2012, from 5.2 miles in 2001/02 to 5.4 miles in 2011/12.

This represents an increase of just under 5%, However for those in remote areas distances can be greater, and 9% of emergency admissions were more than 12.4 miles (20km) away from the patient’s home. It is these areas that need to be most concerned about the increasing distances following service changes.

The emergence of specialist centres, such as the major trauma centres, are an example of where slightly longer distances are acceptable in order to ensure that specialist staff and facilities are available.