Patient praises care from Virtual Ward team

27th Nov 2023

An innovative new NHS service which treats people at home has been praised by a Birmingham patient for saving her life.

Patient Pamela Edwards, aged 78, said she “wouldn’t be here now” if it wasn’t for the Virtual Ward service based at Sandwell Hospital, West Bromwich.

The cardiology patient was suffering from heart failure and after a two-week hospital stay, she was safely discharged home and into the care of the service, which consists of doctors, nurses, paramedics, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

It involves the team monitoring the patient. This can be done over the telephone, in a face-to-face appointment where checks are carried out, or the patient using monitoring devices and inputting the results into a smartphone application which are then assessed that day. Patients can only be referred into the service by healthcare professionals working at the Trust.

Pamela, a retired housing warden from Edgbaston, said: “Thank goodness for the Virtual Ward team. They didn’t come every day, but they were available on the phone if I wanted them. I could ask for a certain team member and ask any questions. If I needed help, they sent someone out to see me. 

“When they came, I was asking questions all the time and they would give me the knowledge they had. But it was a huge reassurance.  

“During a typical visit, a team member would check my heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, check for fluid retention in my legs and my general wellbeing – what I could and couldn’t do and what I needed support with. After they left, I always felt reassured for the day and got up and did things I thought I couldn’t do. They encouraged me to do what I could. 

“I’m a very anxious person which leads to panic attacks. But since being under the care of the Virtual Ward team, I have managed to keep calm because I know help is there. It’s a wonderful service. I had never heard of it before but I’m glad and thankful I was put under their care.  

“I don’t think I’d be here now if I hadn’t had the team coming in, treating and caring for me. They’ve also shown me incredible kindness too, I can’t thank them enough.”

The Virtual Ward Service at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs Sandwell Hospital, was set up a year ago. It covers patients with respiratory and cardiology problems, and those who are frail. It also cares for those who need high quality hospital care but can be treated at home – this is known as EPICENTRE.

Since launching, the Virtual Ward has led to a reduction in the number of hospital beds being used by 14 per cent specifically for frail patients.

 Anna McCall, Clinical Lead for the Virtual Ward service, said: “Patients are receiving excellent and safe care in their own homes via the Virtual Ward.

“They are monitored constantly by the team of specialists all in the comfort of a place of their choice.

“This in turn is leading to better outcomes for those patients, whilst also freeing up hospital beds allowing us to admit other patients.”

Watch Zaf take us on a home visit to see Pamela: 

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