The Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU), located at both Ealing and Northwick Park and St Mark's Hospitals, offers same day emergency care and follow-up care to patients with certain conditions. The service enables patients to be treated without the need to admit them to an inpatient bed.
What is Ambulatory Care?
Ambulatory Care is a new service offering same-day emergency care for patients. There are a number of conditions which can now be treated safely without an unnecessary overnight stay in hospital. Patients will have the same access to our clinicians, diagnostics and services as our inpatients. If clinically appropriate, patients return home after their first visit but may be asked to return for follow-up treatments or diagnostics.
How does the Ambulatory Care Unit work?
You must be referred to the unit to receive treatment. There are three referral methods to the service
- If you visit A&E with a condition suitable for treatment in the ACU, the nurse or doctor may refer you to our service. Most referrals are immediate but some patients may be given a next day appointment and allowed to return home
- Your GP may consult with one of our doctors about the right course of treatment for you. If a decision to refer you to our service is made, you will be given an appointment to be seen in our unit
- Inpatients who are well enough to return home but still require ongoing treatment or further diagnostics may be discharged from the ward to return to the unit for follow-up care. This will only happen if clinically appropriate to do so and will be discussed with you before you are discharged from the ward.
What happens when I visit the Ambulatory Care Unit?
A senior nurse or doctor will review your condition. You will be asked to explain your symptoms and the background to your illness. You may have already given this information to the referring team but it is important that our Ambulatory team, now caring for you, clarify this information.
What happens if I need tests?
Staff may ask you to wait whilst any tests or investigations are made. This could be an x-ray, blood test and/or scans. Staff will endeavour to keep you informed of any delays but please ask if you have any questions or just want an update.
ls there anywhere I can get a drink or something to eat whilst I wait?
We have a restaurant serving hot/cold food and drinks and a coffee shop at both hospitals. Some investigation results may take several hours to come back. If this is the case, the nurse will inform you and you can leave the department and return later. Alternatively you can leave a mobile telephone number and the reception staff will ring to inform you when to return. You are also welcome to stay in the unit and wait.
What is a treatment plan?
Once the results from your tests are known the staff will create a treatment plan for you, which will usually begin on the unit. Where possible arrangements will be made for you to continue the treatment at your place of residence. However, you may be asked to return for further treatments.
At the end of your consultation you will be given information on:
- The nature of your condition
- Any further investigations that are required
- Treatment options
- Follow up arrangements (in some cases this will be with your GP).
What happens next?
Once your care in the unit is complete you can go home. The staff will let you know the next steps for your treatment before you leave, which may include returning to the unit for continued treatment and review. If necessary an appointment will be given to you before you leave. Any medication to take home will be given to you along with a copy of your discharge summary. Please ensure you understand the instructions for any medication you are given.
I have some questions, what should I do?
Please do not hesitate to ask any staff member if you have concerns or need information. If they are unable to help they will seek more senior advice.