After successfully treating more than 6,400 children over the last year, the NHS hospital at home service will expand to cover children in every region of England from this month.

Chief Executive of the NHS Amanda Pritchard announced on the NHS’ 75th anniversary that tens of thousands of children will be able to receive hospital-level care at home thanks to an expansion of virtual wards.

Amanda said the NHS virtual wards programme has provided peace of mind to parents who have used them during trials, including in Blackpool, Dudley, and Dorset.

In Blackpool, almost 200 children have been treated on a paediatric virtual ward. Patients that, for example, have been prescribed antibiotics that would have historically required a hospital stay can be discharged home with daily calls from NHS staff and in some cases, home visits.

Parents are also able to record observations as many times as they want throughout the day, entering the details onto the virtual ward pad.

The services will treat a range of conditions, allowing children to get the care they need from the comfort of their homes.

Virtual wards allow patients to get hospital-level care at home safely and in familiar surroundings, helping speed up their recovery while freeing up hospital beds for patients that need them most and reducing the burden of travel for families.

It comes as more than 160,000 adult patients have been successfully treated on NHS virtual wards including hospital-at-home services since April last year.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay stated: “Virtual wards are an important part of our plan to improve access to NHS urgent and emergency care services, and now they will be expanded to tens of thousands of children across the country.

“That will allow them to be treated from the comfort of their own home, freeing up hospital beds and cutting waiting times, which is one of the government’s five priorities.

“As we celebrate the achievements of the NHS over the last 75 years and look ahead to the future, my priority is that we continue to invest in the latest technology and innovations to deliver the best care for patients.”

The rollout to children and young people comes as part of the NHS plan to create an extra 10,000 virtual ward beds by winter, meaning more patients can be treated safely from home, also relieving pressure on hospital beds.

Amanda Pritchard added: “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.

“As we look to the next 75 years of the NHS, we will continue to embrace the latest technologies and innovations to meet the changing needs of patients while ensuring that care is as convenient as possible.”

NHS England’s Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan, which was published in January 2023, set out guidance to support systems implement new models of virtual wards, in more clinical areas including heart failure and paediatrics, with the guidelines to be put in place to allow systems to scale up ahead of winter.

Over 7,000 healthcare professionals stay informed about the latest assistive technology with AT Today. Do you?
We respect your privacy