The “Home Hospitals” plan to save the NHS

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More than half a million patients a year will be treated in “home hospitals” in an effort to ease the strain on emergency departments.

Under plans, elderly and frail patients who fall will be treated via video link, with ministers saying a fifth of emergency admissions could be avoided with the right care.

Health officials have said ‘virtual wards’ will be buoyed by £14bn of extra spending on health and care services over the next two years as the NHS faces record backlogs, with seven million people on the waiting list. wait.

Rishi Sunak said the Emergency and Urgent Care Recovery Plan, to be released on Monday, showed that the NHS was one of his “top priorities”.

Plans for an expansion of community response teams will mean more elderly patients can be assessed and treated on the spot, rather than being rushed to hospital, under schemes that aim to provide a response within two hours.

Trials that sent a paramedic and community nurse to screen patients who suffered a fall found they could cut the proportion taken to the emergency room in half, with some schemes using video links so ambulances could keep in touch with hospital advisors from a patient’s home.

The ‘virtual wards’ will provide round-the-clock monitoring for up to 50,000 people a month, with patients equipped with wearable devices monitoring vital signs such as temperature, heart rate and oxygen levels and alerting medical teams of any changes .

Patients will also be examined daily by doctors using video technology or through visits to monitor and check progress. These schemes are already being used to support some frail elderly patients and those with acute respiratory infections and heart conditions.

The expansion will result in the creation of 10,000 of these “virtual beds” by next winter.

The Prime Minister said: “The most vulnerable and the elderly in our society in particular should have access to rapid care adapted to their needs.

“That’s why we’re expanding the care available to people at home to reduce unnecessary trips to the hospital, help at-risk patients get treatment faster, and free up capacity in the emergency room.” She added that funding from the program “will ensure people get the level of treatment they deserve.”

Mr Sunak has come under pressure over his handling of the NHS in recent weeks, with calls for ministers to step up efforts to help him stay afloat during a severe winter crisis that has been exacerbated by strikes by nurses and drivers of ambulances.

Steve Barclay, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Up to 20% of hospital admissions are avoidable with the right care. By expanding the care provided in the community, the most vulnerable, frail and elderly patients can be better supported to continue living independently or recover… in the comfort of their own homes.”

It follows warnings from senior officials that hospitals have entered a state of “lockdown,” with wards full of patients who would be better treated elsewhere, fueling long waits in emergency rooms.

The latest monthly data shows that the average wait for an ambulance for heart attack and stroke victims reached 93 minutes in December, more than double the 43 minutes the previous month.

Meanwhile, 55,000 faced trolley waits of at least 12 hours in emergency rooms, while 500,000 patients were admitted as an emergency case.

Experts say the crisis is being compounded by the number of patients stuck in hospital due to lack of care at home or lack of help to prevent it from getting worse. Around 13,000 hospital beds – one in seven – are occupied by patients who are medically well but need help being sent home or discharged to nursing homes.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS, said: “Increasing care in the community and treating more people at home is key to recovery – it’s better for patients and their families, as well as easing the pressure on NHS services.” “.

The implementation is based on initiatives tested in different parts of the country.

In Warwickshire, paramedics dispatched to patients’ homes can arrange video calls with hospital advisers to work out the best course of action. The scheme introduced by South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust has led to a 16% reduction in the number of over 75s taken to hospital by ambulance.

Found a pilot scheme introduced in London last October that sends a community nurse with paramedics
they were able to reduce the number of patients brought to the emergency room from 70% to 35%.

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