COVID virtual wards

COVID virtual wards are being used as part of the NHS response to COVID-19. Virtual wards support safe and earlier discharge of coronavirus patients from hospitals. When moving from hospital to a virtual ward people are given a pulse oximeter and supporting information to monitor their oxygen levels at home.

How do COVID virtual wards work?

Virtual wards are already available in many areas of the country and have been expanded as part of the NHS response to coronavirus. The immediate rollout of virtual wards was recommended in January 2021.

Hospitals transfer people onto a virtual ward as agreed in their discharge plan. They are provided with a pulse oximeter, agreed remote monitoring arrangements and additional care and support as required. They are also contacted daily as they would be on a hospital based ward round.

Clear guidance on what to do in case of any concerns (either via contacting 111, the COVID virtual ward team, or attending A&E in case of emergency) is provided. They are also given a hospital contact to call for any advice or support between 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. At 14 days, or before if deemed clinically appropriate, the person can be discharged from the service.

The patient’s general practice should be informed, and their health record updated accordingly. People who continue to have coronavirus symptoms at 14 days should receive a further clinical assessment and action taken as clinically appropriate. A friend or family member, or a volunteer should also collect and return the oximeter for decontamination and reuse.

Resources for professionals

Please visit the COVID Oximetry @home page for further guidance documents, e-learning courses, partner information.

The FutureNHS platform (login required) also includes access to a step by step toolkit for implementation. For access, please email

Support for patients, carers and families