Dr Pippa Medcalf

Consultant physician, Gloucester Royal Hospital / Excellence in Patient Care Award 2017 – Patient-Centred Care

Dr Pippa Medcalf is an elected member of Council at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

Dr Medcalf is a consultant physician in acute medicine at Gloucester Royal Hospital. She leads nationally for the RCP in raising standards of secondary care for homeless people and locally has developed an in-reach team for the homeless in her own hospital.

She is the RCP lead fellow for health inequalities and inclusion health, and a PACES examiner.

Excellence in Patient Care Awards 2017

In 2017, Dr Medcalf received an Excellence in Patient Care Award for patient-centred care for work on improving secondary care for the homeless.

Here, she explains why the work of the Hospital Homeless Care team was crucial and how it can continue.

What were the key outcomes and successes? Who was involved?

Employing a dedicated housing officer to work alongside a hospital physician has transformed the care of homeless patients in our hospital with over 84% of homeless patients now housed on discharge compared to 0% before the project started. This has saved money for the NHS and reduced lengths of stay for the patients. Housing is a huge part of improving health, and this project has helped to break a cycle of discharge and re-admittance into hospital.

Awareness of the importance of secondary care for the homeless has also grown due to posters being displayed at national conferences, highlighting the results of the audit. 

The expert housing officer and hospital acute physician also worked extremely closely with nursing, medical and discharge teams who are educated on the specific needs of the homeless.

Dr Pippa Medcalf receives her Excellence in Patient Care Award from Professor David Oliver, RCP clinical vice president

How can others replicate your success?

Working with the Faculty of Homeless and Inclusion Health we have set standards of care for the homeless for secondary care to follow. We have written a CPD module to train physicians and written a resource guide on inclusion health for Medical Care. The project and our aims have been widely publicised in national lectures and publications.

What does winning the award mean to you?

It has given the project a huge boost of publicity to empower every doctor to stand up for the homeless: a vulnerable group, growing rapidly in size, who have no voice without us to give them the compassion and care they need.

For me, it has given me the confidence and strength to continue to ‘fight on’ with this project. Thank you to the RCP for listening and embracing this work. We now aspire to roll this project out across all hospitals trusts so that no homeless person is ever discharged from hospital back to the streets and to inevitable poor health.

The need to do more has been acknowledged and there has been a realisation that secondary care doctors are ideally placed to make a real difference to homeless healthcare in a very easy and inexpensive, indeed, cost-saving way.

The RCP has shown that doctors do care and can do so much for the homeless.