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Royal College of Physicians of London

News & Views

More acute consultants means shorter hospital stays

New research published by the Royal College of Physicians shows that more consultants on Acute Medical Units (AMUs) can reduce hospital stays and prevent inappropriate admissions in the first place.

AMUs are now found in hospitals all over the country, despite being a relatively new specialty. This is the first evidence to support arguments that they will bring benefits to patient care.

Key findings show that the presence of a consultant on an acute ward led to:

  • The length of stay on the ward being reduced by an average of 1.3 days.
  • 9.2% more patients being discharged on the day of their initial assessment

Prior to the introduction of AMUs, patients would be examined initially by junior doctors and admitted to the ward during the day. The on-call consultant would then conduct a round of new admissions in the evening or following morning at which time decisions about the patients care would be taken.

The study was undertaken by Dr Nicola Trepte, a consultant physician in acute medicine, and team, based on data covering eight months at a purpose-built unit in Ipswich.


The full team involved in the study consisted of: Dr Nicola Trepte, consultant physician in acute medicine; Dr Gregor McNeill, specialist registrar in acute medicine; Dr Darshan Brahmbhatt, academic foundation house officer 2 in cardiothoracic surgery; and A Toby Provost, medical statistician.

The article What is the effect of a consultant presence in an acute medical unit is published in the June 2009 edition of Clinical Medicine journal.

For further information or comment please contact Zoë Horwich, Communications Officer, on 020 7935 1174 x354 or

Published on: July 1, 2009

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