North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust which runs Peterborough City and Hinchingbrooke Hospitals has launched a ‘Virtual Respiratory Ward’, which will enable some patients to be treated in their own homes, rather than having a prolonged stay in hospital.
The initiative will enable patients to continue their recovery in the comfort of their own home whilst being carefully monitored by designated staff at the Trust to maintain the highest standard of safety and care. Eligible patients, who meet certain clinical criteria, will be admitted onto the Virtual Ward, which will free up around 40 beds within the two hospital sites. Dr Robert Buttery, Consultant in Respiratory at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, said: “Empowering and enabling patients to complete their recovery in their own homes represents a significant development in how we deliver healthcare. It is likely we will see this model roll out to a number of healthcare conditions.”
Communication between healthcare professionals and each patient will be conducted daily and tailored observations and follow-ups will take place depending on the patient’s needs. Patients will be asked to carry out simple tests during the day and input data onto the Trust’s Virtual Ward system, CliniTouch Vie. The results of these tests will be closely monitored and action will be taken should it be required, meaning patients could be discharged from the Virtual Ward, or readmitted into hospital should their condition deteriorate. Patients will also have access to help and support should they need it at any time.
Dr Kanchan Rege, Chief Medical Officer for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Virtual Respiratory Ward provides a fantastic opportunity to think differently about how we can manage our inpatient care. Maintaining the highest standards of clinical safety must be at the forefront of our minds as we embark on this exciting project. The introduction of a Virtual Ward will release bed capacity that can be reallocated to individuals who need a higher level of care.”
Dr Gary Howsam, Chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG and local GP, added: “Being able to provide the appropriate level of care for patients recovering from COVID-19 in the comfort of their own homes is a fantastic development. As a local GP, I know how important it is for many people to get back to their own homes to recover from illness in familiar surroundings. These new virtual wards will enable this to happen in a safe and well managed way for many more people in the coming weeks.”