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A further £3.6 million is being made available to the Scottish Government to support the expansion of Hospital at Home services, with the aim of doubling current capacity by the end of 2022.

The purpose of the service is to reduce hospital admissions for elderly patients by providing treatments in the comfort and familiarity of their own home.

The service enables people to receive treatments that would otherwise require them to be admitted to hospital, such as an intravenous drip or oxygen supply. It also provides access to hospital tests under the care of a consultant in their own home.

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Evidence shows that those benefitting from the service are more likely to avoid hospital or care home stays for up to six months after a period of acute illness, according to the Scottish Government. For older patients, it means being able to stay at home longer without losing their independence and this has contributed to overall improvements in patient satisfaction. It also helps alleviate pressure on hospital beds.

The Scottish Government’s total investment in these services is now £8.1 million since 2020.

As well as Hospital at Home, the Outpatient Parenteral Antimicrobial Treatment scheme and Respiratory Community Response Teams now offer more than 600 virtual beds to treat patients for conditions that would traditionally need hospitalisation, an increase of more than a third from 440 virtual beds at the start of January 2022.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced the further funding on a visit to NHS Forth Valley’s Hospital at Home service.

He said: “Hospital at Home is one of the many ways we are providing more care in the community and reducing pressure on hospitals.  From the success of the scheme so far, we can see that there is a real benefit to treating people at home where possible.

“We know that frail patients tend to occupy hospital beds for a longer period of time and that is why we are expanding the scheme. In reducing the number of prolonged hospital stays, we will free up more hospital beds.

“With additional funding, all health boards can apply for money to either develop or expand their services with the aim of doubling the capacity of Hospital at Home by the end of the this year.”

Funding is available to all health boards and their health and social care partnerships to support the development of new services, or to expand the capacity of existing services, with the key aim of doubling the current capacity by December 2022.

There are currently 20 partnerships with an active Hospital at Home service in Scotland, with an estimated capacity of 275 virtual beds.

Hospital at Home services are also being ran in England.

Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are now providing acute hospital care in patients’ homes seven days a week via a virtual hospital ward expansion. A recent survey of the service showed that 100 percent of patients would recommend it and would rather be treated at home than admitted to hospital for future episodes of care.

Similarly, South West London Clinical Commissioning Group is using virtual wards to help people recover in their own homes and free up hospital capacity.

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