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Wye Valley NHS Trust launch 'virtual ward'
HERE’S a pitch for future healthcare in the county - why come to the hospital when the hospital can come to you?
That’s what the Wye Valley NHS Trust “virtual ward” launched this week is all about.
First reported by the Hereford Times in June, the virtual ward has now gone live for a year-long trial, backed by £1.5m from Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG).
Staffing the “ward” is a 40-strong team taking the kind of treatment normally experienced on actual wards into patients’ homes.
Over the year that team will work closely with patients:
• Stop them having to go into hospital in the first place
• Treat them at home rather than in hospital, taking hospital type care out into the community
• Help them back home more quickly after receiving hospital treatment, as part of a 27/7 service.
“Key to the project’s success has been the establishing of a local, multi-disciplinary clinical team consisting of matrons, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and healthcare assistants,” said Dr Rupert Ransford, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Wye Valley NHS Trust.
The virtual ward is key element of the Trust plans to ease the pressure on A&E.
To ensure its best use of the virtual ward, two teams have been established. An admission avoidance and early supported discharge team will work with patients under the care of Trust consultants as a “rapid response hospital at home” option to carry out clinical assessments and patient visits 24/7 hours a day, seven days a week countywide.
A second, more preventative focused service will work closely with GP’s to assess patients to avoid the need for hospital care at a later date. This service is offered to Hereford initially as a pilot evaluation.
Dr Crispin Fisher, Primary Care Lead with HCCG, said the preventative component enabled GPs to provide much more pro-active and anticipatory care for their patients, supporting them to manage their own conditions and be as independent as possible.
“This is something primary care has always wanted to do in Herefordshire, and it is an exciting opportunity for local GPs,” said Dr Fisher.
“This will mean personalised patient care through individual care plans, the promotion of health and wellbeing and a focus on rehabilitation, re-ablement and independence of patients,” he said.
The success of the scheme will be measured in terms of improved recovery rates and improved experience of patients. There should also be some knock on effects, such as a reduction in avoidable hospital admissions, that will free up A and E and bed spaces.
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