A Virtual Ward set up to support patients with acute respiratory infections has just reached its first birthday – with staff celebrating the fact that 399 Walsall patients have been able to avoid a hospital admission as a result of the service.
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust now has a total of five Virtual Wards covering:
- Acute respiratory infections
- Heart failure
- Fast track
All five combined mean that just under 1,000 patients have been able to manage their conditions in their own home where they feel happiest over the last 12 months. This has in turn freed up 5,829 beds at Walsall Manor Hospital.
Fiona Micheli, Lead Nurse for Virtual Wards, said: “We’re proud of the work we’re doing in the community and the hospital across all five of the Virtual Ward pathways and have taken a moment to reflect as we’ve just reached the first year of the acute respiratory infections Virtual Ward service.
“To have been able to support just under 400 patients at home is a great achievement and we want to continue to build on this success – as well as raising more awareness among colleagues and the public about the service.”
Patients are referred to Virtual Wards where they are assessed to see if their needs are suitable for this approach. If this is appropriate, patients can either leave hospital, or avoid being admitted in the first place, making use of technology and monitoring devices, secure in the knowledge that clinical staff will be calling them to check on them. If patients have any concerns they can get in touch and will either be assessed by a Community Nurse or able to have a video consultation to decide next steps.
Fiona added: “Virtual wards provide the reassurance that people need without them having to leave the comfort of their own home as we would all prefer to avoid hospital if possible. The other pathways have been set up more recently but are showing similar encouraging results and feedback from patients has been positive.”
There are five registered practitioners – three Nurses, one Paramedic, one Pharmacist and four Clinical Support Workers who support patients over the age of 18 who live in Walsall.
Each Virtual Ward has a multidisciplinary team which is made up of a specialist Consultant, Clinical Nurse Specialists from hospital and community services and social workers. The Virtual Ward Pharmacist joins every meeting.