More than 100,000 patients have been treated in NHS virtual wards in the last year, with 16,000 treated in January alone, NHS England has announced.
It said there are now more than 340 virtual ward programmes across England – 58 opened in January – providing a total of 7,653 virtual beds.
The number has increased by almost two thirds (60%) since May 2022, when 4,485 were available.
The wards involve the use of remote monitoring technology that enables clinical teams to monitor patients who remain in their homes and intervene necessary. They are a key part of the NHS urgent and emergency care recovery plan, launched at the end of January, with a goal of treating up to 50,000 patients a month.
NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “The advantages of virtual wards for both staff and patients have been a real game changer for the way hospital care is delivered and so it is a huge achievement that more than 100,000 patients have been able to benefit in the last year alone, with the number of beds up by nearly two thirds in less than a year.
“With up to a fifth of emergency hospital admissions estimated to be avoided through better supporting vulnerable patients at home and in the community, these world leading programmes are making a real difference not just to the people they directly benefit but also in reducing pressure on wider services.”