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One million patients to benefit from new virtual ward service

NHS LLR has appointed Spirit Health to be its technology partner to support the introduction of virtual wards across 16 health categories, and in an area supporting more than one million patients. The service will increase hospital bed capacity and enable more patients to receive the timely treatment they need.

A virtual ward is a team of professionals working to manage a group of patients in the community. It allows patients to get the care they need at home, safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital. Using a combination of remote monitoring by healthcare professionals and home visits, virtual wards can help prevent hospital admissions or allow for an earlier, supported discharge.

The remote monitoring platform CliniTouch Vie provided by Spirit Health allows patients to manage their condition at home with support from clinical teams who can act swiftly if the patient’s health deteriorates.

This virtual ward service, supporting health categories including Heart Failure, Frailty and COVID-19. It will be provided by a collaborative of local organisations, including University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and LOROS.

People often make a better recovery in their own surroundings and staying in hospital longer than necessary can have a detrimental effect on their condition and their independence. A key strategy for NHS LLR, known as home first, means that before a patient is admitted to hospital or transfers to the next phase in their treatment, care providers should always consider whether the patient can be treated at home rather than in hospital. Virtual wards represent one way of making that possible.

Virtual wards are inspired by initiatives developed during the COVID-19 pandemic involving the remote monitoring of more than 1000 heart and lung patients locally. By Winter it is hoped that 287 patients will be able to be looked after simultaneously across nine virtual wards including frailty, cardiology, acute respiratory and diabetes. NHS LLR and Spirit Health will be working with patients over the next few months to refine the remote monitoring system to support patients in a way that works for them.

In addition to the virtual wards, Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland will also be working with Spirit Health to implement digitised pathways across primary, secondary and community care to improve long term condition management, for example digitised asthma enabling remote monitoring at home.

Dr. Caroline Trevithick, Chief Nursing Officer/Deputy Chief Executive for NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland said: “Having the right technology partner is crucial in a successful virtual ward to keep everything running smoothly and ensure patients, relatives and health professionals feel supported and confident at all times. Spirit Health have been working with local NHS organisations during the pandemic on the pilot virtual ward schemes and we are delighted to be continuing our journey with them as we expand the virtual ward programme in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”

Dr Noel O’Kelly, Clinical Director from Spirit Health said: “Spirit Health is delighted to be partnering with the LLR ICS following the success of our pilot virtual ward project launched during the pandemic. Under this new partnership, we will work with the LLR ICS to deliver enhanced patient experiences and outcomes across 9 health pathways using our remote patient monitoring technology. Patients will benefit from quick, simple and continuous access to healthcare professionals – helping more people to feel better connected and cared for, all from the comfort of their own homes.

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