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Poole Hospital’s innovative older people’s unit recognised by NHS national medical director

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has singled out Poole Hospital’s consultant-led elderly care unit for national praise at a major event highlighting seven day NHS services.

The Rapid Assessment Consultant Evaluation (RACE) unit opened in 2010 to support faster and more senior medical input in the care of acutely ill elderly patients. Patients are referred directly by their GP or from the hospital’s emergency department. On the unit, consultant ward rounds take place seven days a week, backed up by skilled therapists, pharmacists and social services staff. 

Since opening, the unit has contributed to an overall reduction in the average time older patients spend at Poole Hospital, nearly halving from 14 days to eight. More than half of patients on the RACE unit go home with a comprehensive care plan within 48 hours of admission.

On Saturday (16 November), the unit’s submission was named winner of the patient-centred care category in the ‘Delivering NHS Services, Seven Days A Week’ conference, in Birmingham. The event launched a new document on seven day working, as well as providing an opportunity for patients and healthcare staff to have their say on how services should change.

Moving to a seven day basis for providing health services is a key objective nationally for the NHS in the coming years.

Dr Matt Thomas, consultant geriatrician, established the RACE unit with colleagues.

“The RACE unit was set up quite simply because we identified a need for it for our elderly patients,” said Dr Thomas.

“We want what our patients want – to see them return home to continue their recovery as safely and as quickly as possible.

“The high level of interest that has been shown in the unit shows that we are doing something that can be translated into other hospitals, and that is very rewarding.”

And Val Horn, medicine for the elderly matron, adds it is not just patients that benefit.

“Staff genuinely enjoy working in such an innovative environment which is geared up to deliver all the support our patients need when they need it,” she said.

“The success of the RACE unit comes from establishing genuinely multidisciplinary working, from doctors and nurses to therapists, social services and volunteer groups, all working around the needs of each patient.”

The RACE unit forms part of Poole Hospital’s commitment to rolling out seven day services for patients.

Trust medical director, Mr Robert Talbot, chairs a We Care Seven Days project group which has been established to explore ways in which weekend care can be bolstered.

“The project seeks to give our patients the very best health outcomes regardless of when they are admitted to hospital,” said Mr Talbot.

“As a trust with progressive clinical leadership, we must act now in order to secure a brighter, healthier future for our patients.

“The innovative RACE unit, and the national recognition it continues to attract, is just one example of how seven day services are already a reality for patients at Poole Hospital.”

Barry Duell, directorate manager for medicine at Poole Hospital, was presented with the award by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS’ national medical director, in front of a 300-strong invited audience.


Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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