Clinicians Support NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Virtual Wards
Tuesday, 4 April 2023
Having delivered the service as a large-scale pilot during the pandemic, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside is leading the way in the virtual wards programme.
Recently, leading clinicians have taken part in several podcasts to explain the concept.
As a result of the pilot, we are 1 of 10 national rapid evaluation sites, informing and shaping the development of virtual wards, which support care by using remote digital medical monitoring, via an app and easy-to-use devices.
Rather than being in hospital, virtual wards allow patients access to the care they need, safely and conveniently at the place they call home.
We are now rapidly expanding virtual wards for acute respiratory infection (ARI), frailty, cancer, heart failure, palliative care, and paediatrics, consistently across the footprint.
Dr Sarah Sibley, Clinical Lead for NHS C&M Respiratory Clinical Network and Consultant Chest Physician at Liverpool Heart and Chest NHS Foundation Trust said:
"Though I was initially unsure of virtual wards, I quickly became an advocate after seeing first-hand you could provide excellent care to patients in their own home with monitoring and treatment, just as effectively as if they were in a hospital bed.
"Virtual wards can help the NHS, already strained from the COVID-19 pandemic, manage more patients so we can start to reduce waiting times for routine procedures with long waiting times. What matters most is the patient and giving them the best care.
"Now due to the development of virtual wards, this sometimes means that people no longer need hospital admission when unwell and can be managed entirely in their own homes until they are fully recovered.
"Older and frailer patients are particularly at risk of deteriorating further, due to the unfamiliar environment and by being admitted to hospital as they often reduce their activity levels and independence.
"With virtual wards, we can provide care to patients in their own home, a comfortable, familiar place to them, speeding their recovery back to health."
You can see Dr Sibley talking all things virtual wards in a recent episode of the ECIST podcast.
You can also watch a video produced by the Innovation Agency for an illustration of what being on a virtual ward involves.