Leeds Teaching Hospitals shares impact of virtual wards since November launch

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Inhealthcare have shared the impact of the trust’s virtual wards programme, launched in November 2023, to support six pathways within abdominal medicine and surgery and oncology.

Introduced as an alternative to admission, or to support earlier discharge for patients requiring daily monitoring, the project estimates the service has supported the reduction of the average length of stay in hospital for patients by five days. 176 patients used the service between November and April to be monitored at home, producing an estimated saving of 959 bed days.

Abigail Uttley, service manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, commented on the project: “While developing a service that is directly assisting the NHS with the crisis of over-occupied beds, it has been rewarding to see our remote monitoring virtual wards come to life, enabling patients to be cared for in their own homes with the safety of technology.”

The service utilises a multi-specialist nursing team and lead clinicians to monitor patients, who take physiological measurements such as blood pressure, respiration rate and oxygen saturation, at home. This data is then transmitted through mobile app, text message or telephone, where care teams can view readings and be alerted if readings are out of range.

Adam Peckham-Cooper, lead consultant for emergency general surgery, added: “For many years we held on to a varied set of patients in hospital beds awaiting investigations, interventions or just for ongoing observation. By using the bespoke pathways, we have managed to facilitate earlier discharges and streamline ambulatory care of patients, vastly improving patient experiences.”

The trust plans to expand the service to include more pathways for patients with vascular, neurological and pancreatic conditions.

As part of the HTN interview series, in March we spoke with Sarah Hanbridge, chief clinical information officer for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, about some of her recent projects, plans and priorities for moving forward with digital in 2024 and beyond.

More recently we chatted with Jessie Dhaliwal, a digital nurse at Leeds Teaching Hospitals and Shuri Fellow, about her work on digital and transformation in Leeds.