The COVID virtual ward model is a secondary-care-led initiative to support early and safe discharge from hospital (step down care) for COVID patients. It has already been implemented in some parts of the country where it is having an impact in reducing emergency admission and builds on the COVID Oximetry @home model.

In late 2020 we carried out a rapid diagnostic / scoping exercise to understand the prevalence and uptake of virtual ward-based models across the West of England. This led us to work with individual systems and provide support tailored to both the findings of the rapid diagnostics and local ambitions. Download our COVID virtual wards briefing paper here (PDF).

Supporting hospital discharge in 2022

In January 2022 systems received a letter (C1041-letter-supporting-hospital-discharge-covid-virtual-wards-13-jan-21.pdf) recommending that all integrated care systems (ICSs) immediately establish COVID virtual wards to support the earlier and safe discharge of COVID-19 inpatients in addition to their work on COVID Oximetry @home pathways. Read more about COVID Oximetry @home.

COVID virtual wards resources and webinars

Read the operating procedures for COVID virtual wards here

On 13 January 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement held a COVID virtual wards webinar: an introduction for secondary care. This webinar gave an overview of COVID virtual wards and the new programme. It included learning so far from virtual wards already in practice, the support that Patient Safety Collaboratives and AHSNs are offering to support implementation, and the support offer from NHSX for a digitally enabled service.

In partnership with The Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, UCLPartners have developed Stop:Start simulation videos to support trusts in setting up COVID Oximetry @home and Virtual Ward services. Watch simulation videos for COVID Oximetry @home and Virtual Ward services

Remote monitoring using pulse oximetry in care homes

A webinar, held on 9 February 2021, explained the background to COVID Oximetry @home and COVID virtual wards, and what this means for care home staff supporting residents who are being monitored remotely using pulse oximetry.

Aimed at registered managers, care workers in care homes, Primary Care Network clinical leads, and staff supporting remote monitoring, it discussed why ‘silent hypoxia’ is important, how it works in practice, and the range of support and learning materials on offer.

Organised by the AHSN Network with NHS England and NHS Improvement, visit this page for more information and to download the presentation.

Keeping people safe during and after COVID-19

Take a look at our training events and resources for care home and NHS colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Read more