For decades we have known that many patients can receive better, safer, more convenient care outside hospital and so backing these models can give a better experience for patients and avoid unnecessary admissions and improve discharge.
We will do this by expanding and better joining up new types of care outside hospital and expanding virtual wards.
Expanding and better joining up new types of care outside hospital
We know that up to 20% of emergency admissions are potentially avoidable with the right care in place.
Personalised care approaches and community health services can reduce pressures on hospitals and emergency services by supporting patients at home and in the community, as well as provide them with greater choice and control, leading to improved patient experience and outcomes.
Our plan focusses on improving the use of urgent community response (UCR) teams, scaling up falls and frailty services, continuing the roll out adult and paediatric Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) Hubs (where most beneficial) as well as continuing the transformation of community mental health services.
Expanding virtual wards
Virtual wards can bridge the gap between hospitals and patients’ homes, enabling patients to remain in their own home supported by family or carers to recover more quickly in a more comfortable environment. And the evidence base for virtual wards is growing, with clinical evidence to show that virtual wards are a safe and efficient alternative to NHS bedded care, particularly for patients living with frailty.
The NHS has successfully rolled out 7,000 virtual ward beds, with our ambition to scale up capacity ahead of this winter to above 10,000 with a longer-term ambition of reaching 40-50 virtual wards per 100,000 people.
National and regional support will be provided here through tools and resources to enable service review, clinical audit and approaches to diagnostics and tech enablement.
Guidance and resources
- New NHS England guidance is available on in vitro point of care testing to support organisations and professionals who are considering integrating point of care testing into their urgent community response and virtual ward services.