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Respiratory patients may now avoid hospital admission thanks to new ‘virtual ward’ technology

19 April 2023

One of the first patients at Macclesfield Hospital to avoid hospital admission thanks to new hospital-at-home monitoring technology has shared their positive experience.

Edward Garnett from Bollington attended A&E in March 2023 with increasing shortness of breath. He had been under the care of his GP for the past three months and was being treated for unresolved chest infections.

Until recently, patients like Edward who present with similar respiratory symptoms would usually be admitted to hospital to enable timely investigations. However, thanks to new virtual ward technology which is being rolled out across Cheshire & Merseyside, patients who are deemed suitable may now be monitored in the comfort of their own home instead.

After an initial assessment, the A&E team and the virtual ward consultant felt that Edward would benefit from being monitored at home rather than being admitted to hospital. They demonstrated how the equipment and monitoring service works then Edward was discharged the very same day.

Edward said, “Being on the virtual ward has enabled me to be in comfortable surroundings rather than being in hospital. For someone who is unwell but not drastically so, this helped me to get on with everyday things and have my family right by my side.

“The three daily observations have been well monitored and enabled the team to track my progress; every time I have had a below-par reading they have called me and checked on my condition, as well as the nurse visiting on the first day to check on me and review my use of the monitoring equipment. Overall the service has worked very well for me.”

Over the next few days, even though Edward remained symptomatic, he was able to remain at home with regular contact with the virtual ward team and a daily consultant review. After seven days his symptoms were not significantly improving, so the virtual ward consultant arranged for a CT scan, which he was able to access on the same day.

Dr Marta Babores, Virtual Ward Consultant at East Cheshire NHS Trust said, “Without the virtual ward service it is likely that Edward would have required hospital admission for three to four days to enable timely investigations. It is of great benefit to our patients if they can recover at home rather than being admitted to hospital so we look forward to further implementing this new technology for patients like Edward.”

Virtual ward team.png

Pictured above from left to right: Joseph Trajano – Patient Navigator, Respiratory Consultant Dr Marta Babores, Respiratory Consultant Dr Thapas Nagarajan, Jane Watson, Team Leader for Virtual wards and Urgent Crisis Response and  Rachel Higham - Clinical Respiratory Specialist Practitioner/Team Leader.


Notes for editors

  • As part of a national initiative, virtual wards have been developed to provide patients with access to the care they need, safely and efficiently, at the place they call home.
  • At East Cheshire NHS Trust, virtual wards are currently being adopted for respiratory and frailty patients.
  • Cheshire & Merseyside are the flagship locale to rollout virtual wards in the UK
  • The service offers many benefits. Patients can be safely treated in the familiarity of their own homes and surroundings, with consistent wrap around care from their healthcare team.
  • In a virtual ward, support can include remote monitoring with easy-to-use apps, technology platforms, wearables, and medical monitoring devices. Support can also include face-to-face care from multi-disciplinary teams based in the community.
  • At the same time, virtual wards supports winter flow and resulting system pressure on the NHS by freeing up staff and beds.
  • For further information about East Cheshire NHS Trust, contact the trust press office on 01625 663935. For urgent, out-of-hours enquiries, please call 07748 384745.
  • East Cheshire NHS Trust is the main provider of acute and community health services for the people of East Cheshire. The trust is based at Macclesfield District General Hospital.
  • Follow East Cheshire NHS Trust on Twitter for all the latest news @EastCheshireNHS
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