The consultant of the week (COW) model of inpatient care means the consultants’ primary focus is to deliver ward-based care daily. At Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, a COW model has been successfully used for cardiology and stroke services. This has improved continuity of care and developed a 7-day working week. Our aim was to extend this model to all general medical consultants who manage inpatients.
We introduced the COW model to the unselected general medical take. Restructuring of consultant job plans allowed daily ward presence, 5 days per week. Outcome measures included length of stay (LOS) and accuracy of expected date of discharge (EDD).
LOS over a 12-month period improved from an average of 9.17 days to 6.61 days. The number of EDD changes reduced, from a previous average of 3.0 changes to 1.8 changes. Consultant feedback showed there was an improvement in collaboration between teams, improved training of junior doctors and higher job satisfaction.
Improved 5-day consultant presence is associated with reduced LOS. Learning points included the delay in implementation due to the complexity of consultant job planning. We plan to extend COW to 7-days for all general medical wards.
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