Virtual ward helping to reduce Wolverhampton hospital admissions

More than 500 people have been able to avoid hospital altogether or reduce their stay length thanks to a virtual ward launched last year.

Jo Howells, Sister on the virtual ward
Jo Howells, Sister on the virtual ward

The service, provided by The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, launched in January 2021 to support Covid-19 patients.

Since then it has supported 462 patients with Covid-19 and 117 patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which causes breathing difficulties.

Patients are monitored via daily or weekly phone calls and video consultations, with different programmes of care just like a normal ward.

Staff are now evolving and expanding the service to help more patients with long term breathing conditions, as an alternative to hospital admission.

Jo Howells, Sister on the virtual ward, said: "It is a great service, and we are growing.

"We aim to keep patients at home by monitoring and caring for them there.

"They are monitored for 14 days and there are different programmes they can be put on to help with their care, ranging from low to high intensity, just like a regular hospital ward.

"They are monitored by us via daily or weekly phone calls and video consultations.

"If there is anything we are concerned about we have other community teams we can refer to, or the hospital at home team can go out and visit the patient.

"We are committed to providing the best care, in the patient’s own home.

"It is a great service to be part of and I am proud to be in the team."

When moving from hospital to a virtual ward, people are given a pulse oximeter and supporting information to monitor their oxygen levels at home.

They then input their observations into an app where staff can see the information and provide regular feedback on how they are doing.

Adrian Collier, from Bilston, is currently being cared for by the virtual ward team and was diagnosed with COPD 11 years ago.

The 59-year-old said without the team he would have spent lengthy stays in hospital.

He added: "I first found out about the service last year after I was in A&E with a chest infection, when I was discharged the virtual ward got in touch.

"They were always there at the end of the phone if you needed them, if I was concerned or worried.

"I had twice daily calls to start and this is reduced as you recover.

"I am truly grateful for their care, the service has been absolutely brilliant."

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