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Mr William Orr with a patient

The new innovative cardiology unit introduced at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust aims to improve services for people suffering from heart failure.

The Whitley Day Unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital allows patients with symptoms of severe fluid retention resulting from their heart failure to return home after each daily course of treatment, rather than be admitted into hospital for several days.


With emergency heart failure admissions on the increase nationally, and lasting on average 10-14 days, being permitted to return home after treatment each day not only improves quality of life for patients but also reduces the risk of complications associated with lack of mobility and sleep deprivation, which are often associated with long hospital stays.

Richard Corder, patient representative, said:

“I have been enthusiastic about this project from the first time that I heard about it, partially because as a heart failure patient myself I may well need it in future. As a member of the project group for this initiative, I have been given the opportunity to interview all the patients who have used the service so far, and never before have I seen the level of appreciation that this unit has generated. Every single patient was pleased with their experience. Every patient was more than happy to come in on a daily basis and much preferred it to being treated as an inpatient. I have never before been involved in an NHS project that has had such universal praise from the people who have experienced it.”

whitley day unit rbh 2

On consecutive visits to the day unit, patients can expect to be weighed and have a specialist clinical assessment each day, have blood samples taken and be treated with intravenous diuretics (medicines that help the body offload excess fluid). Patients are then monitored for a maximum of two hours following their daily dose, before going home. After the last administration of intravenous diuretics, patients are provided with a discharge letter and have their care transferred either to their GP or a community heart failure nurse.

Dr Ishak Nadeem, GP and Chair of the Long Term Conditions Programme Board for the Berkshire West CCGs said:
“Having to stay in hospital can be a stressful time for anyone. We GPs are pleased that we can now refer heart failure patients to the Royal Berkshire’s Whitley Day Unit for treatment. The introduction of the unit means patients can continue to receive the same great standard of care without having to worry about spending too much time away from home, providing a better experience for our patients.”

The Whitley Day Unit is an adaptation of an impressive admissions prevention model originally established by the University of North Staffordshire NHS Trust. North Staffordshire’s outstanding work paved the way for the Royal Berkshire Hospital, allowing them to further develop the award-winning heart failure care model.

William Orr, Consultant Cardiologist, at the Royal Berkshire Hospital said:
“The opportunity to bring about this change has made a significant difference to the quality of life for our patients and their families. It gives the team both in the community and in the hospital great pleasure to be able to adapt our services in such a way to the benefit of not only those with heart failure, but all cardiology patients who use our services.”

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