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NHS to expand virtual wards to thousands of children

NHS to expand virtual wards to thousands of children
By Jess Hacker
5 July 2023

Hospital-level care at home reach children in every region of England with the expansion of the NHS virtual wards services this month, NHS England has announced.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard will announce the expansion today (5 July) to mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS.

The virtual wards service will treat conditions like respiratory illness and heart conditions, with children able to receive care in familiar surroundings, intended to speed up their recovery and free-up hospital beds.

In the last year, more than 6,400 children have been successfully treated during trials, including in Blackpool, Dudley and Dorset.

More than 160,000 adult patients have been successfully treated on virtual wards since April last year.

The rollout comes as part of the NHS’ plan to create 10,000 extra virtual beds by winter.

Ms Pritchard said: ‘As the NHS celebrates its 75th anniversary today, it is amazing to see how services have changed since our foundation. Virtual wards are already providing excellent care to families when their children are sick, and this expansion will enable thousands more to receive high quality care from home.

‘Being treated at home can have a hugely positive impact on patients – it means they receive hospital-level care, but it also means they are not separated from their families – providing peace of mind for loved ones.’

And the NHS’ national clinical director for children and young people, Professor Simon Kenny, said: ‘The introduction of paediatric virtual wards means children can receive clinical care from home, surrounded by family and an environment they and their parents would rather they be – with nurses and doctors just a call away. 

‘More than 6,400 children have already been treated on a virtual ward, which also means they spend less time in hospital and that paediatric beds are there for the children that need them most, when they need them.’

Patients on a virtual ward are called for by a multi-disciplinary team providing a range of tests and treatments, with patients reviewed daily by the clinical team.

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