Virtual wards

Guidance and resources to support implementation of virtual wards

Virtual wards, often known as Hospital at Home, are a safe and efficient alternative to bedded care. Using technology and face-to-face care, they offer patients who would otherwise be in hospital the choice of receiving the treatment they need in their own home, either preventing them from being admitted to hospital or allowing them to be discharged from hospital sooner.

GIRFT is working with NHS England’s Virtual Ward programme to help NHS teams establish new models of virtual wards, in more clinical areas, and for patients with a broader range of conditions.

An increase in the use of virtual wards was identified as a key ambition in NHS England’s Delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency care services (January 2023).

On this page, you can find links to useful resources focusing on the key benefits and principles of virtual wards, as well as the practicalities for implementation.

The guidance focuses in particular on frailty services – where Hospital at Home has been used to provide a safe alternative to hospital for patients living with frailty through community-based acute health and care delivery – and on services for those with acute respiratory infections.

Data relating to Hospital at Home suggests that patients are five times less likely to acquire an infection when treated on a virtual ward compared to an acute setting, and eight times less likely to experience functional decline. Virtual wards also serve to free up physical beds for other patients who require an in-patient admission.

Making the most of virtual wards

GIRFT and the Virtual Ward programme have produced this guide, which outlines how the NHS can make better use of virtual wards, allowing more patients to get the care they need at home, safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital.

Aimed at clinicians and operational teams, this guide draws on the existing guidance and resources and highlights key advice and steps to get the most out of virtual wards, and in doing so, deliver better care for more of our patients.

Click above to view the pdf document

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