Covid patients to be treated at home on ‘virtual wards’ amid Omicron ‘tidal wave’


The ‘virtual wards’ could be used for patients who are in need of treatment but do not need to be on an in-person hospital ward – with their oxygen levels remotely monitored from a hospital

The virtual wards could be used to free up beds for more needy patients
The virtual wards could be used to free up beds for more needy patients

Covid patients could be treated at home on ‘virtual wards’ amid an Omicron ‘tidal wave’ after Christmas.

The ‘virtual wards’ could be used for patients who are in need of treatment but do not need to be on an in-person hospital ward.

Around 15% of patients could be treated at home, with their oxygen levels monitored remotely.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, said the health service was on a “war footing”.

He said: “We expect we will see a substantial number of hospitalisations in January. This time last year we had just over 15,000 patients in hospital, and by the middle of January we had nearly 35,000.

“Once hospitalisations start to increase, they can increase very quickly, so it’s important the NHS prepares.

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Around 15% of patients could be treated at home, with their oxygen levels monitored remotely
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Image:

Getty Images)

“The NHS is on a war footing once again.”

The ‘virtual ward’ service is aiming to discharge 10,000 patients before the start of January, the paper reports, adding that all patients sent into care homes will be tested first.

Professor Ted Baker, the chief inspector of hospitals at England’s Care Quality Commission, said: “I’ve been talking to staff who are very distressed about some of the care they’re having to provide in corridors. People waiting on trolleys to be admitted are often very frail and they suffer harm from just waiting on trolleys.

“We described 2019 as the worst ever winter in the NHS, and that was before Covid hit. The situation now is worse. We do need to face up to the fact that we have, as a whole system, not brought about the changes in emergency care we needed to do.”

The ‘virtual wards’ could be used for patients who are in need of treatment but do not need to be on an in-person hospital ward
(

Image:

Getty Images)

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said unvaccinated people are “taking up hospital beds”.

He told Sky News 10% of the population – more than five million people – still had not received their jabs, and around nine out of 10 of those needing the most care in hospital were unvaccinated.

Javid said: “I just cannot emphasise enough the impact that they are having on the rest of society.

“They must really think about the damage they are doing to society by… they take up hospital beds that could have been used for someone with maybe a heart problem, or maybe someone who is waiting for elective surgery.

“But instead of protecting themselves and protecting the community they choose not to get vaccinated. They are really having a damaging impact and I just can’t stress enough, please do come forward and get vaccinated.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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