A new virtual ward service for babies, children and young people in Haringey and parts of Enfield held a formal opening ceremony at the North Middlesex University Hospital (North Mid) on Tuesday 26 September.
Virtual wards, also known as Hospital at Home (or H@H), support patients who would otherwise be in hospital to receive the care and treatment they need in their own home. The Hospital at Home virtual ward at the North Mid is delivered by a team of highly skilled nurses who provide acute paediatric care to children in the community by managing illnesses like asthma, croup and jaundice, and offering a range of treatments.
The North Mid Hospital at Home virtual ward, which is also supported by consultant paediatricians, helps young people to recover with their families, who are also actively involved in their holistic, patient-centred care. Its aim is to increase patient satisfaction and provide a safe and effective alternative to emergency department attendances and hospital stays.
The North Mid Hospital at Home virtual ward is available from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, for children and young people aged 0 – 16 and 16 – 18-year-olds with complex needs who live in Haringey and some southern and eastern parts of Enfield.
Anne Biggs, matron for children’s community nursing at North Mid, said: “Our Hospital at Home children’s service enables us to deliver safe, effective, high quality and timely care for our babies, children’s young people and their families from our local borough, in their own homes.”
“We are extremely proud of our Hospital at Home [virtual ward] service at North Mid which now provides twelve virtual beds to our local area which are supported by a team of paediatric nurses attending patients in the community. This means that beds will be available to be utilised by more acutely unwell patients on the wards. This is a long-term initiative which seeks to contribute to the health inequalities of our local populations.”
“It has been four months since we rolled out this project and our team is extremely proud of where we are now and what has been achieved. I would like to thank everyone who has helped make it a success.”
Hospital at Home virtual wards are one of the key priorities for the NHS in England as it works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. A similar Hospital at Home virtual ward, provided by Whittington Healthcare NHS Trust, is also available for children and young people in Islington.
Where clinically appropriate, patients on Hospital at Home virtual wards have access to hospital-level diagnostic tests, such as radiology and blood tests, and can receive regular support from a team of different healthcare professionals.
As technological advances are made in how patients can be cared for in their own home, including through portable diagnostic testing and patient monitoring by their clinical team, Hospital at Home virtual wards will be a standard alternative to hospital care for a range of conditions.
The NHS is now working to grow Hospital at Home virtual wards to provide nearly 300 virtual ward beds to people of all ages across Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington this winter. These additional beds should significantly reduce the number of avoidable admissions into hospital, whilst also helping people to leave hospital sooner when they’re well enough to be discharged with support.