AEC - FAQ's for Patients

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Q.  What is Ambulatory Emergency Care (AEC)?

A.  Ambulatory Emergency Care (sometimes called AEC) is a service which provides same day emergency care to patients at our hospital.  This means that patients are assessed, diagnosed, treated and are able to go home the same day, without being admitted into hospital overnight. 

Q.  Why am I going somewhere else when I came into the Emergency Department?

A.  The ED Staff will have undertaken a review of your presenting complaint at triage to determine whether your condition is suitable to assess, diagnose and treat within the AEC unit.  This will enable you to go home the same day (with or without follow-up), without being admitted into hospital overnight.

Q.   What can I expect from the AEC?

A.  Please be aware that your individual journey through AEC may vary slightly, you may have been referred to the unit by your GP, the Emergency Department or some other route.  Once you’re in the unit, you’ll be greeted by a member of staff who will introduce themselves and the unit facilities.  A nurse or doctor will undertake an initial assessment and will ask you to explain your symptoms and background to your illness.  You may have to wait while staff arrange investigations such as x-rays, blood tests and/or scans. 

Once the results from your tests are known, the staff will create a treatment plan for you which will usually begin on the unit.  Once your care in AEC is complete, you can go home.  The staff will let you know the next steps for your treatment before you leave, which may include a return to the unit for continued treatment and review.

Q.  How do I get there?

A.  This will depend on which hospital you attended and how you are referred to the AEC unit:


 1.       Emergency Department to AEC Unit:

You will be told how to get to the unit.

2.       GP Referral direct to the AEC unit:

If self-presenting, you should report directly to the AEC unit.  From 24 July 2017, the unit at GRH will be situated on Level 2 of the Trauma Unit (marked TU on our maps). Before this date, the unit was situated on the Ground Floor of Gallery Wing (next to the tower block). 

CGH Unit

 1.       Emergency Department to AEC Unit:

You will be advised how to get to the unit.

 2.       GP Referral direct to the AEC unit:

If self-presenting, you should report directly to the AEC unit.  The unit at CGH is situated in College Road Wing (above the Emergency Department on Level 2, next to the Radiology Department).


Q.  Can my relatives come?

A.  Yes.  If you wish to be accompanied by a relative that is fine.  However, we would ask you to consider other patients within the unit.

Q.  What if my condition deteriorates?

A.  Ambulatory Emergency Care is suitable for certain conditions and you will be assessed on your presenting complaint.  If however, your condition does deteriorate within the unit, you may have to return to the Emergency Department for treatment, or be admitted to a ward.

Q.  Will my GP know what has happened to me?

A.  Yes, they will be sent a summary report of your attendance to the unit.

Q.  What happens if my treatment’s not finished when the AEC closes?

A.  The unit will only accept patients where there is a reasonable prospect that you will be ready for discharge within the opening times of the unit.  If however, on the rare occasion treatment has not finished, you may be admitted to a ward to continue treatment.

Q.  Do I have to come back to the AEC every time I have this same problem?

A.  The staff in the unit will advise you of the next steps and continued treatment plan.  You may be asked to return to the unit for a follow-up appointment.

Q.  Will I still be admitted?

A.  Ambulatory Emergency Care is designed to assess, diagnose and treat patients on a daycase basis and avoid admission to the Trust.  There may be rare occasions where a patient needs to be admitted from the unit to a ward, for example if their condition deteriorates.

Q.  Will I be fed?

A.  Patients who are suitable for Ambulatory Care should be able to move around of their own accord.  Therefore, providing it is clinically safe to do so, and the nurse / doctor is aware, you should be able to visit the hospital canteen or restaurant, while awaiting test results for example.

Q. Do I need to go to ED first?

A.  This depends on your referral route, if you are referred by your GP then no – you should report directly to the AEC unit.  If you are self-presenting to the Emergency Department, then yes – you will need to go there first.


Q.  How can I contact the AEC?

A.  If you have any queries or concerns after visiting the unit, please call 0300 422 6677 for GRH or 0300 422 3618 for CGH.  Outside of opening hours, please call your GP, NHS 111, or if you consider it to be an emergency, call 999.

Q.  What are the opening hours?

A.  The current opening hours at GRH AEC are, 8am – 6pm, seven days a week. The opening hours for CGH AEC are 8am - 6pm Monday to Friday.

Q.  What’s the last time I can arrive at the unit?

A.  The latest a patient can physically arrive at the unit is 4pm at CGH, 4pm at GRH.  This is to allow time to assess, treat and discharge the patient before the unit closes.


AEC and GPs