Posted by Aston Avery

How can we transform emergency care?

Virtual wards have become a quietly growing part of the NHS. Initially necessitated by Covid-19, the NHS recently met its ambitious target of creating 10,000 virtual beds before winter.

First developed in South London in the mid-2000s, their roll out had been limited to a small number of NHS trusts. NHS England has since called for greater use – with similar efforts implemented in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales – included in the January 2023 delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency care services.

They offer more widespread hospital-level care at home for respiratory issues, frailty, and as of October, heart failure. They can tackle the issue that is decreasing hospital bed stock by giving eligible patients the choice to receive treatment at home, aided by technology including Bluetooth-enabled stethoscopes and HD cameras with throat examination accessories.

Aston spoke to Alexandra Burns, interim director of discovery at Nesta.

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