A British study has found that closing hospital emergency departments does not lead to more deaths.

It also showed that closing emergency departments and re-organising emergency services did not improve outcomes for patients either.

The study from the University of Sheffield analysed five emergency departments in England that were downgraded between 2009 and 2011.

It found there was no impact on death rates upward or downward, despite patients having to travel further to access emergency care.

The authors said that any negative effects caused by an increase in journey time to an emergency department could be offset by other factors. 

"For example, if new specialised services are introduced or if the care received at the now nearest hospital is more effective than that provided at the hospital where the ED closed", according to Emma Knowles from the School of Health and Related Research at the university.

The authors said they did not find the better outcomes for patients that planners hoped to see from closing these small departments either.

"This means it isn't clear that the disruption and anxiety that can be caused by closing emergency departments is worthwhile", they concluded.