News, NHS trust

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals virtual wards supports A&E performance

Barking, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) University Hospitals NHS Trust has shared an update on the impact of its frailty virtual ward playing a role in helping to keep frail older people out of A&E.

The trust notes how the latest national A&E figures, released this month, demonstrate “continued improvement” with 50.6 percent of seriously ill patients treated within four hours in January 2024, compared to 32.2 percent in January 2023.

The figures demonstrate BHR’s move “from one of the worst performing trusts to the top 25 per cent in England”. Additionally, the trust remains on track to meet the national recovery target of 76 percent for overall A&E performance in March.

BHR states that the virtual ward has played a role in helping to keep frail people out of A&E along with reducing unnecessary hospital stays, with chief executive Matthew Trainer commenting that such initiatives “are providing better care for these patients in an environment more suitable for them and ensuring that those needing emergency care get treated faster in our A&Es.”

At present the virtual ward is caring for up to 30 patients a day, with the trust sharing that over 200 patients have benefitted so far. 91 percent of patients are said to have rated the service “good or very good”.

On plans for the future, BHR shares how a second virtual ward for patients with acute respiratory infections was launched in December in partnership with the North East London Foundation Trust; and there are also plans to launch a virtual ward for children and young people this spring.

Additionally, the trust says that it will “introduce more digital technology to increase the scope and ability of virtual ward teams to monitor patients at home.”

Along with marking an improvement on last year, the A&E figures also demonstrate an improvement against the statistics from the last winter before the COVID pandemic struck, January 2020, which saw the trust treat 49.5 percent of seriously ill patients within four hours.

Rebecca Coughlan, therapy manager of outpatient services at BHR, joined HTN in December for a webinar on how an integrated referral management platform has supported quality of referrals for the musculoskeletal services along with reducing waiting times.

Last year, we covered how the trust announced its £44 million EPR which aims to go live in 2025; and shared the launch of BHR’s patient portal.