Hospitals should ramp up their treatment of COVID-19 patients at home to free up more beds during the peak of the pandemic, under plans announced by NHS England/Improvement.
All NHS trusts will receive up to 300 oximeters, which measure oxygen saturation levels and can be used to monitor COVID-19 patients in their own homes, rather than in hospital beds.
NHSE has “recommended” that all areas of England “pursue immediate roll-out” given the “intense pressure on hospital beds right now”, according to a letter from medical director Steve Powis and two other national directors.
Currently, nearly 60 trusts have COVID-19 patients in at least a third or more of their beds, and the total number of COVID-19 patients is peaking at around 37,000. There have been particular strains on hospital discharge, particularly of covid patients, whom many care homes are unable or unwilling to receive.
The scheme, dubbed “covid virtual wards”, has been used at some trusts since the pandemic’s first wave.
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Source: HSJ, 19 January 2021