What are virtual wards? How are they being used?

The current government and NHS England view ‘virtual wards’ as a panacea for the lack of capacity in the NHS. The end of July saw NHS England setting out its plans to avert the winter crisis in the NHS, part of which is a rapid increase in the number of virtual wards.

And earlier this month, NHS England announced its virtual ward programme would be expanding to children, with overall virtual ward bed numbers expected to hit an ambition of 10,000 by the end of September.

Virtual wards were the centrepiece of the government’s delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency care services announced by the Department of Health and Social Care back in February 2023.  The plan includes virtual wards to treat up to 50,000 elderly and vulnerable patients a month at home by the end of 2023-24.

Full story in The Lowdown, 10 August 2023