Yesterday the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt announced the introduction of “whole stay” doctors who will be in charge of the entire package of a patient’s care. It used to be the case that there was one nominated doctor in charge of each patient admitted to hospital but this practice was phased out by Labour during the last administration. It is difficult for patients and their relatives not knowing who has overall responsibility for their loved one’s care whilst in hospital.
It will be reassuring to know who is in charge and to whom patients and their relatives can address any questions and it allows for proper continuity of care. By having a “whole stay” doctor, there will be one care plan and proper handovers to the patient’s GP once they are discharged.
This new initiative has already been trialled successfully in Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital in London. In order to extend continuity of care beyond hospitals Jeremy Hunt highlighted the need for named accountable GPs. From April, starting with the over 75s, GPs will be named to ensure there is less chance of a breakdown of communication about a patient’s care plan once they return to the community. This should reduce the risk of possible readmission to hospital. I welcome these two announcements and look forward to patients receiving a better “joined-up” service from the NHS.