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NHS Community Virtual Ward Celebrates 500th Patient Admission

The NHS Community Virtual Ward service for Norfolk and Waveney is celebrating a significant milestone with the admission of its 500th patient. Launched in September 2023, this innovative service allows patients to receive hospital-level monitoring and treatment at home, preventing avoidable hospital admissions.

The service, which is provided by Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust for patients registered with a GP in Norwich or West Norfolk, and by East Coast Community Healthcare in East Norfolk, has made a substantial impact on keeping patients out of hospital, saving around 2,000 bed days in local acute hospitals.

Many hospital services can be provided safely at home, and research shows recovery is faster in familiar and comfortable surroundings where patients can maintain their independence and avoid the risk of hospital-related complications.

Virtual ward care is managed by an Advanced Care Practitioner (ACP), working with other professionals such as doctors, nurses, and therapists. The service is appropriate for patients over 18 with conditions including respiratory disease, frailty, and heart failure. Patients in any community setting, including community hospitals, residential care homes, and nursing homes, can also be referred.

Patients suitable for virtual ward care are trained to use a device that sends continuous or intermittent observations, including their breathing, heart rate, and skin temperature, directly to the Community Virtual Ward team. If there is a sign of health deterioration, such as a rise in blood pressure, the team receives an immediate alert. Staff can then call the patient over the phone or via video call to discuss any health changes and decide on the most appropriate next steps.

Patients are typically under the Community Virtual Ward's care for up to 14 days, depending on their treatment plans and recovery.

Mike, an 86-year-old patient, expressed his gratitude for the NHS Community Virtual Ward, stating:
Your attention and treatment prevented the need for me to be hospitalised and I'm sure being able to stay at home has been a big part in my recovery. Your regular visits, understanding, and kind care were a real boost to me. It was a joy to help to use the new kit you now have. My daughter was able to keep you up to date with the daily stats with the pack left with me.

Charles Kirby, Service Lead for Community Virtual Ward, said: Virtual wards provide patients with hospital-level care in the comfort of their homes. This means they can recover faster in familiar surroundings while freeing up hospital beds for those with the most urgent medical needs.
As we celebrate this milestone, we look forward to continuing to provide exceptional care to patients where they live and expanding our reach to serve more communities in the future.

Read more about the Community Virtual Ward service:

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ECCH Communications team

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