Same day emergency care

Same day emergency care (SDEC) is one of the many ways the NHS is working to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time for patients.

It aims to benefit both patients and the healthcare system by reducing waiting times and hospital admissions, where appropriate.

What is same day emergency care?

SDEC is the provision of same day care for emergency patients who would otherwise be admitted to hospital.

Under this care model, patients presenting at hospital with relevant conditions can be rapidly assessed, diagnosed and treated without being admitted to a ward, and if clinically safe to do so, will go home the same day their care is provided.

The national SDEC model builds on previous improvement work in ambulatory emergency care (AEC) services across the NHS, with the aim of providing a consistent approach to patient pathways.

This short animation is designed to explain the role of SDEC, where it fits within the urgent and emergency care system and the benefits it provides to both staff and patients.

How it works

Patients can be referred to SDEC treatment through different routes, including:

  • Following streaming or triage in emergency departments (EDs)
  • Direct referral from GPs
  • Direct transfer from ambulance services
  • Direct referral from NHS 111

Some of the many types of SDEC treatment include:

  • Medical
  • Surgical
  • Specialists (e.g. Paediatrics and Gynaecology etc.)

The ambitions from the NHS Long Term Plan note that all hospitals with a 24 hour ED (type 1) will:

  • Provide SDEC services at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Provide an acute frailty service at least 70 hours a week, with the aim to complete a clinical frailty assessment within 30 minutes of arrival in the ED/SDEC unit
  • Record all patient activity in EDs, urgent treatment centres and SDECs using same day emergency care data sets.

Why is this good for patients?

There are significant benefits associated with treating people through SDEC services, including:

  • the ability for patients to be assessed, diagnosed and start treatment on the same day, improving patient experience and reducing hospital admissions
  • avoiding unplanned and longer than necessary stays in hospitals, resulting in lower risk of infections and de-conditioning for patients
  • financial benefits and cost savings for hospitals, and often for patients too.

Related content

The SDEC programme produces a wide range of resources, and works with key stakeholders to support the implementation of SDEC across the NHS.

The SDEC Community online workspace is a collaborative platform designed for teams and providers to share best practice, access information and guidance, and raise questions to the national SDEC team. You can register to join the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform workspace here.

For SDEC programme related queries to the national team please email


During 19/20 there were three CQUINs for SDEC. These were:

  • Pulmonary embolus
  • Tachycardia with atrial fibrillation
  • Community acquired pneumonia

Further information in relation to the 19/20 CQUINs can be found below: