Uptake of AEC as a clinical model has rapidly accelerated in the last five to ten years, with ambulatory care now a widely recognised and respected treatment modality, delivered in the majority of acute trusts. Initially adopted within Emergency Departments (EDs) and acute medicine, the model is now spreading to surgery and some sub-specialities.

The aim of AEC is to convert non-elective bedded care to same day ambulatory care at every opportunity. This will reduce emergency admissions, reduce the need for a short stay admission, whilst improving patient and staff experience. The hypothesis behind AEC is that a significant proportion of adult patients requiring emergency care can be managed safely and appropriately on the same day, either without admission to a hospital bed at all, or with admission for a minimal period not extending into an overnight stay.

Same day emergency care can be successfully achieved by:

  • streamlining access to diagnostic services;
  • reorganising the working patterns of clinical teams to provide early senior decision making and rapid treatment;
  • and collaborative working with support services in the community to provide robust safety net systems and optimise integrated care;
  • providing an environment that supports same day emergency care.