AIM: To determine whether there were any changes in attendance at accident and emergency departments that could be related to international football matches (Euro96 tournament). METHOD: Fourteen accident and emergency departments (seven adjacent to and seven distant from a Euro96 venue) provided their daily attendance figures for a nine week period: three weeks before, during, and after the tournament. The relation between daily attendance rates and Euro96 football matches was assessed using a generalised linear model and analysis of variance. The model took into account underlying trends in attendance rates including day of the week. RESULTS: The 14 hospitals contributed 172 366 attendances (mean number of daily attendances 195). No association was shown between the number of attendances at accident and emergency departments and the day of the football match, whether the departments were near to or distant from stadia or the occurrence of a home nation match. The only observed independent predictors of variation were day of the week and week of the year. Attendance rates were significantly higher on Sunday and/or Monday; Monday was about 9% busier than the daily average. Increasing attendance was observed over time for 86% of the hospitals. CONCLUSION: Large sports tournaments do not increase the number of patients attending accident and emergency departments. Special measures are not required for major sporting events over and above the capacity of an accident and emergency department to increase its throughput on other days.
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