The NHS will ask patients to turn their bedrooms into hospital wards in an effort to free up hospital beds and tackle waiting lists.
They will be given mobile phones and wearable gizmos that allow doctors to observe their vital signs remotely on ‘virtual wards.’
Up to 25,000 people at a time could be treated under the ‘hospital at home’ scheme by March 2024 in a big boost to capacity, and it could allow patients to be released from the hospital sooner, or sidestep the need to be admitted in the first place.
The initiative forms part of the Government’s Plan for Digital Health and Social Care.
It outlines ministers’ ambitions to expand the use of technology within the NHS rapidly in an endeavour to save billions of pounds over the next decade.
Proposals include expanding the use of remote monitoring, improving the NHS App and rolling out digital health and social care records in hospitals and care homes.
The Government will create an additional 10,500 data and technology roles as well as increase training in these areas for new and existing staff.
The expanded use of ‘virtual wards’ comes after NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard revealed that too many beds had been cut.
Some 25,000 staffed beds have been lost since 2010/11, with few beds per head of population than in similar nations.
Mrs Pritchard told the NHS ConfedExpo conference this month that they have passed the threshold at which that efficiency becomes inadequate and that a lack of beds, along with wit delays in discharging medically fit patients into social care, have contributed to more extended waits for routine operations and in A&E.
There are a record 6.5 million people on NHS waiting lists, with numbers soaring in recent months due to disruption caused by the pandemic.
More than 280,000 people have had their conditions, such as asthma, remotely monitored at home and in care homes over the past year, freeing up hospital beds and clinicians’ time.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, this has resulted in improvements in patient outcomes, with problems spotted earlier, shorter stays in hospital and fewer admissions, and an additional 500,000 people could be supported in this way by March next year.
Patients will also be able to complete their hospital pre-assessment assessments from home by September 2024.
But remote monitoring is a shoddy replacement for regular checks by nurses.
These people are sick, so who’s going to feed them, help them to the toilet, and change their bed linen? And if something goes wrong, who’s going to take care of the patient?
Looking after someone when they’re ill is demanding and given the lack of care in the community, with GPs, and the delays getting a paramedic out on a 999 call I definitely wouldn’t pick this option.
What’s next? An NHS mobile service coming round our streets like an ice cream van, then people can clap them as they come into the street like Father Christmas on his float.
I guess they could install fabricated wards to provide additional bed capacity. Oh yes, I forgot they did that, they called them the Nightingale Hospitals, remember those?
Apparently, they couldn’t get enough staff and enough equipment, so if this is the case ‘remote wards’ at home will be the same. Not enough staff and people will end up becoming worse than they began in the first place, which will mean they will still end up in the hospital, so this is a senseless venture.