NHS hits 10,000 virtual ward beds target

The NHS has met its target to deliver 10,000 virtual ward beds ahead of winter.

More than 240,000 patients have now been treated on virtual wards.

Research is showing that people treated on virtual wards recover at the same rate or faster than those treated in hospital. The wards are being used for patients with illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure or frailty conditions.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Our world-leading virtual ward programme is a huge leap forward in the way the NHS treats patients enabling them to receive hospital-level care in their own home.

“The NHS is embracing the latest technology, with regular check-ins from local clinicians in daily ‘ward rounds’ while freeing up hospital beds for those that need them most – it is testament to the hard work and dedication of NHS staff across the country that we have delivered on our target and rolled out more than 10,000 virtual ward beds by the end of September.

“We know that industrial action is also continuing to pile pressure on services and impact capacity adding a lot of pressure to hospitals before winter, coming on top of high levels of demand with last month seeing more 999 ambulance calls than any month this year as well as the busiest September ever for A&E attendances, up almost 8% on the same month last year.

“But despite this pressure, it is clear from today’s figures that NHS staff are working incredibly hard to deliver for patients with 10% more patients coming off the waiting list in August than the same month before the pandemic”.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Thousands of patients have benefitted from the NHS’s ‘hospitals at home’, which give them the opportunity to recover in the comfort of their own homes while being monitored remotely by clinical staff. This approach, also known as ‘virtual wards’, has been shown to benefit patients and eases pressure on the NHS by freeing up hospital beds.

“We have delivered on our promise to roll out 10,000 hospital-at-home places by winter – a key target in our Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan and a testament to the hard work of NHS staff.

“These ‘hospitals at home’ will speed up recovery times for patients and help cut waiting lists”.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay