A medical team which helps to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and could see a record 5,000 patients this year is celebrating its third birthday.
West Suffolk Hospital’s Ambulatory Emergency Care unit (AEC) was set up in 2014 to assess patients with acute illnesses and give emergency care on the same day, allowing patients to go home with clinical follow-up rather than be admitted.
The unit has seen the number of patients it treats increase year-on-year, with new initiatives set to double its annual average of 2,500 patients.
Dr Elizabeth Hamilton, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust acute medical consultant and ambulatory care lead, said fewer than 10 per cent of patients seen by AEC were admitted to hospital, easing pressure on A&E and inpatient wards.
“This saves the beds for our most vulnerable patients,” she said, adding that in the past six months the AEC had developed initiatives including accepting referrals from A&E and improving communication with GPs.
“As a consequence, we are now seeing nearly 500 patient attendances a month and are predicted to see over 5,000 in 2017,” said Dr Hamilton.
Debs Crelly, deputy general manager for general and emergency medicine, said: “Our AEC unit shows that by working in different ways within the hospital and with other local health partners, we can help manage and improve services.”
The AEC treats issues including chest pain, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia and asthma. There are plans for the AEC to join the surgical assessment team to create a larger unit able to treat more conditions.