GOVERNMENT Health Minister and qualified medical doctor Dan Poulter praised a “fantastic” nurse-led unit at Poole Hospital during a flying visit.

The Medical Investigation Unit, which provides diagnostic and treatment services, is one of only a handful of such units in the UK to be led by specially-trained nurses instead of doctors.

Last year, it became one of the first in England where nurses can prescribe blood and blood products on a non-emergency basis. Its matron, Geoffrey Walker, was recently named national nurse of the year by the British Journal of Nursing.

Treatments that can be provided by the nurses include intravenous antibiotics, drug infusions, biopsies, blood transfusions and PICC line insertions.

Since the unit was expanded earlier this year, more patients that would previously have had to be admitted to hospital are able to have their treatment as day cases.

Staff from Poole Hospital’s MIU are now supporting the development of a similar unit at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Patient Bob Miller said: “I’ve seen this unit grow over the years. The staff have been absolutely wonderful.”

Dr Poulter, 34, who still works shifts for the NHS, said: “It’s important that we look at examples where there’s very good practice. What I’ve seen today is fantastic in terms of its very patient-focused approach.

Dr Poulter said the unit was an “excellent” example of how the NHS could care for older people and patients with long-term conditions.

“In the past the NHS has been too much about picking up the pieces when people have become very unwell. What this unit is about is giving personalised care, making sure we prevent frail older people and people with long term conditions from having to be admitted when they get to crisis point.

“We need to move away from the system where people have to turn up at A & E because they have nowhere else to go.”

The junior minister spent nearly an hour talking with staff and patients at the MIU before visiting the Rapid Access Consultant Evaluation (RACE) unit, open seven days a week to make sure elderly patients receive prompt and comprehensive care.