Patients will be provided with a pulse oximeter so they can be monitored from home
"Rather than being stuck in a hospital bed, in the virtual ward this monitoring takes place in the comfort of your own home, safe in the knowledge that you can get in touch with a clinical professional immediately if you need to.” Dr Lynn McCallum, medical director, NHS Borders
NHS Borders is piloting a new virtual ward for patients with Covid-19.
The trial, which began on 14 February, will run to 31 March 2022, with three groups of patients: those who are already in hospital because of Covid-19 and who are getting better; those who have presented at hospital because of Covid-19 and need some treatment, but can receive it safely at home; and those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are eligible for antiviral treatment. They must have a face-to-face assessment with a clinician before being referred to a virtual ward.
Patients will receive an information leaflet describing how the ward works, along with a pulse oximeter. They will also be given a patient diary to record their symptoms, and a number to call if they need advice or support, or feel that their condition is getting worse. They will then be contacted every day by a clinician to discuss their readings and symptoms, and how they are feeling.
The board’s medical director, Dr Lynn McCallum, described the introduction of the Covid virtual ward as a “really positive step forward in caring for patients who have Covid-19.” She added: “In many cases Covid-19 causes a mild illness which does not require acute medical treatment, but for this group of people does need to be closely monitored. Rather than being stuck in a hospital bed, in the virtual ward this monitoring takes place in the comfort of your own home, safe in the knowledge that you can get in touch with a clinical professional immediately if you need to.”
McCallum described virtual wards as a “tried and tested way of caring for people safely,” adding that “patients with Covid-19 have been looked after in this way from the onset of the pandemic.” She went on: “As part of the assessment process before someone is admitted to the virtual ward we make sure that they fully understand what they need to do and that they are able to do it.
“As well as being a better experience for the patient, introducing a Covid virtual ward means that we can free up space in the Borders General Hospital to help support the restart of activity that has had to be paused during the pandemic and the most recent Omicron wave, so this is really good news for everyone.”