Fast tracked emergency treatment without having to go through accident and emergency is just a phone call away for seriously ill patients.

A call from their doctor during a GP appointment means the ill person can be sent to the ambulatory emergency care department (AEC).

This unit is a specialist service that provides rapid, hospital-level diagnostics and treatment for patients who have potentially serious conditions that need treatment straight away but whose condition is not so life-threatening that they need to go to hospital immediately by ambulance.

Among the serious conditions that the AEC regularly treat are pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), cellulitis and hypertension.

AEC lead consultant Dr Radha Selvaratnam said: “It all starts with a phone call.

“All GPs in Croydon are able to call the dedicated hotline to the AEC consultant and talk to them about their patient’s condition.

“That means that while they are in their GP’s surgery, the patient will have two highly qualified doctors working out the best course of treatment for them.

“The GP and the consultant will then agree whether the patient should come straight to AEC in the hospital, can continue to be treated by the GP or, in some cases, go straight through to A&E or another medical bed as an immediate admission.”