Hospital saving 1,900 bed days through virtual ward treatment

The virtual ward team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. 

The virtual ward team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: NNUH

A Norfolk man has said he is "indebted" to a groundbreaking virtual ward allowing patients to recover away from hospital. 

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital launched the ward earlier this year and has helped more than 250 patients, saving 1,900 hospital bed days.

The ward sees patients monitored virtually, with staff able to keep an eye on vital signs from afar.

Leigh Jones, from North Walsham, was admitted to hospital for seven days in June with pneumonia and sepsis, which could have led to a longer stay as staff needed to monitor his infection markers and left him longing to be home with family and his five cats. 

The 58-year-old said he was indebted to the "groundbreaking" ward which he felt boosted patients' mental and physical wellbeing. 


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Mr Jones, a grandfather of four, said: "I really needed to get out. The biggest issue wasn't the IV antibiotics, it was keeping an eye on me and that could mean to stay in hospital for another week to 10 days, I really didn't need the bed."

"It's not something anyone wants, to be in a hospital bed. It's being at home with your pets and your loved ones. I could have all my grandchildren around me, it is priceless.

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"It is technology at its best."

Earlier this year, Covid patients shared how the service was a "game changer" as it allowed them to receive remote care from the comfort of their homes, with the ward treating up to 20 patients a day, including Covid patients.

Patients are monitored via a strap around their arm and monitored by staff carrying out virtual rounds through daily phone or video calls.

Staff remotely monitor temperature, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels.

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

Johnny Wells, virtual ward lead, said: "We’ve currently up to 20 patients on the ward at a time, reducing their hospital stay by days or, for some, even month.

“The benefits of being at home, sleeping in their own bed, eating their own food and in the company of their family, away from the stress of the hospital environment, are huge.

"It not only means that patients who don’t need to be in hospital can complete their recovery at home before being fully discharged, but frees a valuable hospital bed for someone else."

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