Virtual wards treat 100,000 in a year

According to NHS England, more than 100,000 people have been treated in NHS virtual wards in the last year. 16,000 were treated in January.

Virtual wards are used to enable patients to get hospital-level care at home, speed up their recovery and free up hospital beds.

There are 340 virtual ward programmes across England, providing 7,653 virtual beds.

Frimley Health provides acute hospital care to patients in their homes, with 83 per cent of patients estimated to avoid hospital admission. 774 people were cared for between July 2022 and January 2023.

NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “The advantages of virtual wards for both staff and patients have been a real game-changer for the way hospital care is delivered and so it is a huge achievement that more than 100,000 patients have been able to benefit in the last year alone, with the number of beds up by nearly two thirds in less than a year.

“With up to a fifth of emergency hospital admissions estimated to be avoided through better supporting vulnerable patients at home and in the community, these world leading programmes are making a real difference not just to the people they directly benefit but also in reducing pressure on wider services.”

The Telehealth Team, run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, supports around 2,000 patients a day with conditions like COPD, diabetes and heart failure.

Nurse Nisha Jose, clinical team leader at Mersey Care’s Clinical Telehealth Hub, said: “People yearn for normality and the comfort of home, yet when they get home, they may become worried.

“With our virtual ward programme, we can do everything that would happen on a hospital ward. We take observations every six hours to identify any issues and we can even carry out ECGs at the patient’s home. It has truly transformed the way we deliver care.”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay