Virtual wards allow patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital.

A dedicated team of nurses, doctors, health care assistants and other professionals work together to provide the same level of treatment and care patients receive in hospital, but at home.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare have developed virtual wards for people experiencing a deterioration in their respiratory, frailty or those with a general medical acute illness. Virtual wards will provide additional capacity to our existing hospital beds enabling more patients to receive the care they need. By being in their own home, people are also supported to be as independent as possible.

The NHS is increasingly introducing virtual wards to support people at the place they call home, including care homes, providing safe care for appropriate patients who would otherwise be in hospital, either by preventing admissions or allowing for an earlier, supported discharge.

In a virtual ward, new technologies such as wearable devices, oxygen and blood pressure monitors, along with apps, can be used to provide real-time information on people’s vital signs to a dedicated remote team of health and care professionals.

Personalised care plans identify what matters to the person to ensure that the support they receive is designed and coordinated around their desired outcomes. Support may involve face-to-face care from multi-disciplinary teams based in the community too when needed.

Research shows that being at home - where patients can see friends, family and pets - is much better for their physical health, mental wellbeing and overall recovery rate.

We know that people who stay too long in hospital may experience serious deconditioning with reduction in muscle strength that affects their mobility, which can be hard to recover from. Virtual wards enable patients to have all the benefits of home, with the wraparound care of a dedicated clinical team reviewing them remotely, and face-to-face when needed.

We also know that the positive impact of this is that more patients maintain their independence at home and are less likely to need to be re-admitted to hospital.