Covid-19 patients praise game changing virtual ward as they recover at home

Johnny Wells, virtual ward co-ordinator, at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Johnny Wells, virtual ward co-ordinator, at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: NNUH

Coronavirus patients have called a new virtual ward service a "game changer" after receiving remote care from the comfort of their homes.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is treating 11 Covid-19 patients on the ward, which sees staff carry out virtual ward rounds, including daily phone or video calls and advice to patients through remote temperature, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels.

If necessary, patients will be asked to come to the hospital for treatments such as Dexamethasone and anticoagulants, and they are given contact numbers so they can seek advice should they need it.

Those using the ward says it has given them peace of mind to recover at home.

Barry Shephard, 37, who lives near Dereham, spent six weeks in hospital with Covid-19, including two weeks in the high dependency unit, during January and February. 

He said: “I’m very tech orientated and wanted to give it a go. Although the service is just starting, I think it’s a game changer, giving patients peace of mind when they return home."

Christopher Richardson, 64, from Norwich, spent 10 days in hospital, including four in critical care. He was transferred to the ward at the end of February.

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As part of his recovery, he wears a monitor 24/7 which constantly measures his blood pressure, temperature and oxygen saturation levels, in addition to a daily telephone call with the virtual ward team to check on his progress. 

Mr Richardson says he preferred to be at home and found the ward environment disorientating. 

He said: “I’d recommend the virtual ward to other patients. The system was easy to set up and I just put on a new monitoring device each day. The team were very helpful and we only had one hiccup when they rang me because my vital signs had dropped when, in fact, I’d fallen asleep.”

The ward will provide monitoring and follow-up service for up to 40 patients. 

Emily Wells, NNUH chief nursing information officer, said:"We know from what patients tell us that they would prefer to recover in their own bed with loved ones near as long as they can feel safe and cared for. The virtual ward enables both.” 

Dr Ed Prosser-Snelling, NNUH chief clinical information officer, added: "Beyond Covid, the service can be used for palliative care, oncology, hepatobiliary surgery patients and more."