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Wexham Park Hospital's ambulatory emergency care unit (AECU) is celebrating two major milestones.

The unit, which helps to reduce hospital admissions and ease pressure on the emergency department by caring for appropriate patients on a day basis, has now been operating for four years and has treated 20,000 people.

Staff marked the occasions with a special cake last week.

Activity at the AECU has grown significantly since it was first launched at Wexham in 2014, when it had just three staff and an average of five patients per day.

Today the service sees an average of 30-35 patients each day, and is staffed by a team of 12 nurses and a receptionist with support from four consultants plus junior doctors and registrars.

Its hours of service have been extended too, from 10am-6pm Monday to Friday to 9am-9pm plus weekends.

Matron Sean Harding said: “We see appropriate patients who may otherwise be admitted under medical or surgical teams and offer many of the same treatments on a same or next day basis that the patient would receive as an inpatient.

“This gives ward teams greater capacity to look after patients who are more seriously unwell and more beds are available for patients who really need them. It also improves the patient’s experience."

The unit’s same-day discharge rate for the last six months stands at over 96%.

A new, larger AECU will be an integral part of Wexham Park’s new emergency assessment centre, which is scheduled to open early next year.