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This study was carried out to investigate the effect of triage on attenders’ waiting times in an accident and emergency(A & E) department The A & E department comprised three separate areas the A & E unit, dressing clinic and review clinic Data on all A & E attenders were collected by the nursing staff over a period of 1 week using a data collection form The waiting times for the attenders to be seen by a doctor in 1988 were longer than in 1986 This may partly reflect the lower number of people using A & E in 1986, while the current practice of an initial triage assessment may slow the patients’ access to a doctor This latter finding is a cause for concern, since the receptionist is the main triage assessor at night However, the time the attender spent waiting to be clinically assessed by a health care professional (nurse) was shorter in 1988 than when performed by a health care professional (doctor) in 1986 This indicated that nurse triage enabled a shorter waiting time between arrival and assessment of the A & E unit attender