All South West London NHS trusts have developed ground-breaking ‘virtual wards’ allowing patients who are well enough to be monitored virtually from their own home instead of from a hospital bed.
A dedicated team of highly trained clinical specialists use technology to monitor patients on the virtual ward, allowing them to be cared for safely at home and crucially freeing up bed space in hospitals.
The Kingston cardiology virtual ward, which has been up and running since mid-December, has already treated 21 patients and screened a total of 190. The team caring for these patients include a clinical lead, two consultants, specialist nurses and physiotherapists.
Salina Harvey-Porter, Consultant Physiotherapist at Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, tells us how they are rolling out virtual wards for low-risk cardiology and respiratory patients.
“Every patient is carefully assessed and counselled by specially trained clinical staff before discussing with them whether they would like to be treated by the virtual ward team at home rather than stay in hospital. We are really focused on the right patient, in the right place, at the right time.
“Patients that we select are very specific and tend to only need support from our virtual team for three to four days and are often well enough to be discharged by the weekend.
“Patients are shown how to use the virtual ward monitoring equipment which they then take home with them. This means that we can monitor them exactly as they would be on a real-life ward.
“We always go and see the patients on the very first day they come onto the virtual ward, so that we can go through anything with them. If a patient has any problems with any equipment or needs to talk to us at any time, they can call us.
“Most patients don’t like being in hospital and we see the change in them on the very first day of the virtual ward. They are cheerful, their skin has more colour and they are active and more hopeful. It’s really nice to see that you’ve helped them to get home. A lot of them are really thankful to have such carefully tailored specialist care from the comfort of their own homes.”