News, NHS trust

Virtual “pill school” launched at Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals

Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, has shared that their ‘pill school’ – designed to help children and young people move from liquid medication to tablets – has been made available virtually, with staff praising how the virtual offering means that young people accessing services remotely can also benefit.

The virtual school builds on the work of the hospital’s play team with young patients during their time in hospital, to support families with medication routines and provide “structured tuition” on taking medications, with staff recognising the opportunity to launch an online programme as more clinical teams began to offer virtual outpatient appointments.

Following an initial assessment from a senior play specialist which can take place either in person or online, young patients are given a pack including instructions, guidance and a water bottle, before being followed-up with daily sessions through Microsoft Teams with a senior play specialist to support them through the transition to tablet medication.

Maxine Ovens, play service manager at Royal Brompton Hospital, said: “We’re delighted that children and young people with heart or lung conditions accessing our hospital’s specialist services can now benefit from our pill school even when they aren’t in hospital. Swapping liquid medication to tablets has many benefits. Tablets are easier to transport and store, and reduce the risk of dosage error. They are also cheaper to buy, reducing the cost for both the family and the trust.”

From one of our latest News in Brief articles, Derbyshire ICB has announced the launch of its virtual wards programme across Derby and Derbyshire, with the aim of helping to reduce pressures this winter.

On a national level, NHS England has published the latest figures for the capacity and occupancy of virtual wards across integrated care boards. Noting that the statistics are “classified as experimental”, NHSE shares data on capacity, occupancy percentage and capacity per 100,000 of the adult population. The ambition, as set out in the plan for recovering urgent and emergency services and winter resilience plan, is for ICBs to have 40-50 virtual ward beds per 100,000 adults and to maintain an 80 percent occupancy rate over winter.