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Virtual wards growth stalls in 2024

The expansion and use of virtual ward beds has stalled so far in 2024 after strong growth in the second half of last year, according to analysis of official figures.

The number of virtual ward “beds” occupied by patients increased by 38% between July and December 2023. But from the end of 2023 to May 2024, it has increased by less than 1%.

The slowdown comes as ring-fenced national funding for virtual wards came to an end in March. The services – which involve the use of tech to care for patients in their own home when they would otherwise be in hospital – must now be drawn from wider urgent and emergency care funding. 

One integrated care board chief executive told HSJ  the national virtual wards programme had become “peripheral” to wider challenges facing the health system, whereas it had previously been treated as a high priority on its own.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 3 July 2024


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