image Have you heard of the hospitalist?

It’s an American concept, and one I would like a new Conservative government to consider introducing here to improve patient care while in hospital following yesterday’s devastating report in The Sunday’s Times which highlighted their neglect to meet targets.

A pity if it is too late to add to our health policy for the general election as it could make a significant difference to improving patient care.

A hospitalist is a medic who cares for all the patient’s needs from the moment he enters hospital, until the moment he leaves. He is also a point of contact when the patient returns home and wants to call and check on medication or has any immediate concerns. Patients and their families often find it hard to take in important medical information and its full implication while in hospital, and it is reassuring for them to know there is one person who is aware of the full facts and, most importantly, is accessible.

As I understand it, the hospitalist is basically a case manager who will liaise with patients and hospital staff to ensure their needs and will follow through all the needs regarding his treatment. They will ensure there is no confusion or misunderstanding surrounding complications, such as when a patient has more than one medical problem and is seeing more than one consultant.

I heard about this when working as press officer for the Infection 2009 conference, it was highlighted at one of the talks by Fiona Godlee, Editor of the British Medical Journal; the view was that it was only a matter of time before we had hospitalists in the UK.

Crucially, what I hope the hospitalist will succeed at is arranging to meet families to update them on the care of their loved ones – and be there as planned – instead of leaving them hanging around for hours which is often the case now. For families, that is one of their biggest frustrations.