The expansion means people can remain active and maintain their independence in their own home, while undergoing medical treatment. New NHS clinical guidance published this week asks local health systems to expand their use of virtual wards to include heart failure patients who often spend a lot of time in hospital and can now get specialist care from the comfort of their own homes.
Around 200,000 people a year are diagnosed with heart failure, and people living with the long-term condition requiring significant input from NHS services make up 5% of all emergency hospital admissions in the UK attributed to the condition. The new service offer comes after the NHS hit its target of delivering 10,000 virtual ward beds last month, with more than 240,000 patients treated successfully on virtual wards since April 2022. The innovative hospital at home service already provides treatment for respiratory issues and frailty and has been shown to reduce recovery times, as well as easing pressure on hospital beds. There are around a dozen heart failure virtual wards up and running, and the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT) and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust (MCFT) are already taking part in the scheme.
New figures show that the NHS has delivered on its ambition to roll out 10,000 virtual ward beds by the end of September 2023. More than 240,000 patients have now been treated on virtual wards thanks to the world-leading initiative, with research showing people who are treated at home recover at the same rate or faster than those treated in hospital.
England’s top doctor has praised the work of local NHS teams in introducing 10,421 virtual ward beds for patients who can get expert treatment for illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure or frailty conditions at home. The ambition was delivered despite considerable pressure on urgent and emergency care – September was the busiest month for ambulance services so far this year with 827,690 calls to 999 and a record September for the most serious ambulance incidents, with 77,553 category one callouts.
The NHS is expanding blood pressure checks available in local communities including barbershops, mosques and at a dominoes club, as part of a major drive to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Thanks to the learning from the NHS covid vaccination programme, local teams are reaching out into their neighbourhoods to find potential health problems before they become more serious for patients at locations that are most convenient.
The lifesaving action by NHS staff comes alongside new figures showing that high street pharmacies delivered a total of 149,865 blood pressure checks to the over 40s in May 2023 – more than double the amount delivered the year before (58,345 in May 2022). More than 1,300 heart attacks and strokes could be prevented this year thanks to the high street checks.
A survey of 300 UK surgeons has found that each surgeon loses an average of four hours a week due to inefficient technology. This is equal to more than an entire working month of hours each year.
The study, State of Surgery in the UK: Technology and Efficiency in Patient Care, conducted on behalf of global healthcare technology firm, Medtronic, reveals 79% of UK surgeons feel care would be easier to deliver if technology was improved.
The study explores surgeons’ attitudes towards the technologies they use in their role, the efficiency of them and the degree to which they enhance or hinder performance.
Fifty-four percent of surgeons reported spending time outside of hospital hours on administration that could be automated, and 58% agree technology in the operating room is inefficient and could impact the delivery of patient care.
Ring-fenced funding has been announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay MP, ahead of the NHS’s 75th birthday. This new AI technology will help diagnose patients more quickly for conditions such as cancers, strokes and heart conditions.
NHS Trusts will be able to bid for funding to accelerate the deployment of the most promising AI tools across hospitals to help treat people more quickly this winter.
The Government is committed to deploying AI decision support tools in all stroke networks by the end of 2023 to help treat strokes through improved diagnosis and access to treatment. NHS staff will be given the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology to diagnose and treat patients more quickly thanks to a new £21 million fund announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary.