latest

Life-saving pulse oximetry now available to all eligible patients in England

15th March 2021 about a 2 minute read
“This impressive uptake in the use of pulse oximetry has undoubtedly saved lives. It has also allowed us to ensure, where appropriate, we can provide safe care for vulnerable people shielding at home through simple, remote monitoring.” Natasha Swinscoe, AHSN national patient safety lead

Patients at risk from COVID-19 now have access to a national programme designed to provide an early-warning if their condition worsens. 

During the pandemic, reduced oxygen saturation levels have been shown to be a key identifier of deterioration in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. 

COVID Oximetry @home uses pulse oximeters for patients to safely self-monitor their condition at home. Results can show any decline in their condition that might require hospital review or admission.

The programme is managed by NHS England and NHS Improvement, in partnership with NHSX and NHS Digital. It is supported by England’s 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives.

All CCGs have now established a fully operational COVID Oximetry @home pathway. In November 2020 the figure was 20%.

Patient Safety Collaboratives (hosted by Academic Health Science Networks) supported the rapid spread by working closely with CCGs in each region to offer quality improvement expertise, access to training and resources, data collection and evaluation, and by facilitating a national learning network.

COVID virtual ward

The COVID virtual ward model is a secondary-care-led initiative, using remote pulse oximetry monitoring to support early and safe discharge from hospital (step-down care) for COVID patients.

A total of 94% of acute trusts now have access to a COVID virtual ward, an increase of 69% since the beginning of the year.

Natasha Swinscoe, national patient safety lead for the AHSN Network and CEO of the West of England AHSN, said:

“We have learned so much during this pandemic, and this impressive uptake in the use of pulse oximetry has undoubtedly saved lives. It has also allowed us to ensure, where appropriate, we can provide safe care for vulnerable people shielding at home through simple, remote monitoring.

“I’m proud of the role Patient Safety Collaboratives have taken, providing support and assistance on the ground to establish completely new ways of working in such a short space of time.”

This intensive PSC support to implement these pathways is due to wind down at the end of March 2021, with AHSNs continuing to support systems to embed @home models in the long-term.

More information is available here