Society for Acute Medicine response to RCP Future Hospital Commission

Press release: strictly embargoed until 12/09/2013 00:01

Society for Acute Medicine response to RCP Future Hospital Commission

 Caring for Medical Patients: “Acute medical units are a key part of the solution”

The Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) welcomes the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) “Future Hospital” report published today.

A key feature of the report is the further development of ‘Acute Care Hubs’ within hospitals, incorporating acute medical units (AMUs), ambulatory care and short-stay wards to ensure highly co-ordinated, efficient care of patients admitted to hospital in an emergency, seven days a week.

Dr Chris Roseveare, SAM President and member of the steering group for the Future Hospital Commission said: “The rising numbers of patients being admitted to hospitals with increasingly complex problems has placed emergency departments and acute medical units under huge pressure over recent years. This document recognises that the solutions to this will require some radical changes to the ways in which we deliver healthcare in the future. AMUs are integral to the solution but we must also ensure that high quality, co-ordinated care is provided for patients throughout their hospital stay and following discharge from hospital”.


The report emphasises the need for better continuity of care for patients in hospital; this is particularly important for those with complex needs and those who problems do not fit into a specific specialist category. Almost all acute physicians already have the skills and training necessary to provide ongoing care for this group of patients, and a recent survey conducted by SAM indicated that the majority would be happy to deliver this if provided with appropriate staffing and support.

Dr Roseveare added: “Acute physicians, being dually trained in general internal medicine, are ideally placed to provide ongoing, continuous care for many patient groups; however some organisations are already struggling to recruit sufficient numbers of trained consultants to provide a seven day service on the AMU, and an extension of their role will further increase this challenge. The report recognises the importance of increasing the numbers of trained ‘general’ physicians. Over the next few years, several hundred of our acute medicine trainees will become consultants with the skills to take on these roles; it is vital to ensure that we support and develop career pathways for acute physicians to ensure that this remains a popular and sustainable career choice for consultants of the future

“Sir Michael Rawlins and the Future Hospital Commission should be congratulated on producing a document which could produce substantial improvements for patient care in hospitals; turning this into reality will require clinicians to work closely with their managers, patients groups and commissioners over the coming months and years so we can ensure that the ‘hospital of the future’ becomes the ‘hospital of the present’”.

Some of the practical consideration will be discussed during an International symposium at the Society for Acute Medicine conference next month in Glasgow, which will be addressed by one of the report’s main authors Dr Tim Evans; we will be encouraging our members to attend this session and read the document carefully to determine how best to implement the changes on a local level.
Notes to the editors:

  • Acute medicine (also known as acute internal medicine) is the specialty which deals with the immediate and early treatment of adult patients with a variety of medical conditions who present in hospital as emergencies.
  • The Society for Acute Medicine is the national representative body for the speciality of acute medicine and represents around a thousand members.
  • Dr Roseveare has been an acute medical consultant in a large teaching hospital since 1999.
  • The full report is available on the Royal College of Physicians (London) website


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