In paediatrics, ambulatory care under hospital control is ensured both by the out-patient department and by the emergency unit. If socio-economic level and parental availability are taken into account, the hospital remains the most accessible health-care structure in large towns. The common illnesses, in most cases infectious and respiratory, should not encumber the emergency unit, but should instead be taken in charge by a structure where an extended-timetable dispensary and an out-patient clinic by appointment work in parallel. In the most favourable cases, a home care unit completes this out-patient structure. Its main characteristics are as follows: it is exclusively paediatric, and it aims at shortening or avoiding hospitalization. It improves the quality of treatment, provides the family with medico-social support and follow-up that is particularly useful in less favoured settings, and can also offer preliminary training in heavy or chronic cases. Notwithstanding its obvious advantages, budgetary cuts have led to the suppression of home care at Hôpital Saint-Pierre in 1983.