The COVID virtual ward has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Collaboration with Industry category of the Innovate Awards 2022. The virtual ward, which is a collaboration between NHS Gloucestershire and partners and Baywater Healthcare, has been used by 6,000 patients in Gloucestershire.

Virtual wards allow clinicians to safely manage and monitor patients at home and identify those who need to be in hospital.  Monitoring oxygen levels for people who have COVID-19 reassures patients when they are anxious and helps to keep vulnerable people safe by providing clinicians with important information about their risk of getting very ill.

Patients are given a pulse oximeter, a small device which they attach to their fingertip. This records their blood oxygen levels completely painlessly within seconds and patients are advised to do this at home for about 10 to 14 days. Patients can pick up a pulse oximeter from their GP surgery or a local Minor Injury and Illness Unit.

Getting the virtual ward off the ground in Gloucestershire was a key part of meeting the COVID-19 challenge in the county.  Telehealth technology and expertise from Baywater Healthcare and close partnership working across the integrated care system (ICS) boosted the project’s success. Of the 6,000 patients using the ward so far, 1,000 unwell people have been admitted to hospital.

Dr Hein Le Roux, One Gloucestershire ICS Clinical Quality Lead, said: “We are incredibly proud that our COVID Virtual Ward has made the official shortlist for The Innovate Awards against tough competition.

“The Virtual Ward scheme has helped us to transform the way we care for people who have COVID. We know that people often recover best in their own home, but getting a diagnosis of COVID can feel frightening, especially for people who live alone. The Virtual Ward allows us to support people at home, giving them reassurance that help is available if they need it.

“We are really grateful to patients and their carers for engaging with this initiative so well, as well as the many local clinicians and telehealth experts involved.”