A MEDICAL unit at Poole Hospital which has reduced the time older patients spend at hospital has celebrated its tenth anniversary.

The rapid access consultant evaluation (RACE) was introduced in late June 2010.

The unit’s performance – nearly halving the length of stay for older patients from 14 days to around eight days, and safely discharging around half of all patients within 48 hours with comprehensive care plans – has prompted interest nationally and internationally from others seeking to replicate its success.

The results are down to a multidisciplinary team approach, involving doctors, nurses, physio and occupational therapists, pharmacists and social services, from the moment a patient arrives on the unit.

Consultants are available seven days a week to ensure that senior clinical decisions can be made about each individual patient, and treatments plans altered as required.

On June 22, past and present staff, including clinicians and nurses, therapists, social services and the British Red Cross, which provides assisted discharge services to patients returning home that need a little extra support, gathered virtually to celebrate the milestone.

Among them was Poole Hospital’s medical director, Dr Matt Thomas, who helped establish the unit in 2010.

“It is a great milestone and we have all become incredibly proud of RACE,” he said.

“The success of RACE in its early days was due in large part to super-charging our multi-disciplinary working across specialties and roles, and the support that social services were able to give us.

“Over the years we’ve had visitors from all over the country, and from all over the world, keen to learn more about this model of care.

“Ultimately, it is about how we have put patients at the centre, and brought each element of their care to them in a coherent and timely way that has proven itself time and time again.”

Dr Naomi Fox, clinical director for older people’s care, added: “The RACE unit is a real beacon in our older people’s services, and has become a successful model in use around the country.

“Our staff love the dynamic pace in which they work, and our patients love the comprehensive care they receive which means they get to go home sooner.”