NHS England plans to create thousands more ‘virtual ward beds’

The national health body have created their second iteration of the Technology Enabled Care Services framework agreement in which they plan to provide 3,000 more virtual ward beds.  

The NHS is currently inundated with the need to free up hospital beds, reduce the backlog of appointments and speed up patients discharge, however, according to NHS Shared Business Services (SBS), the Technology Enabled Care Services Two framework will provide organisations such as Health52, a home medical visits organisation, and other social care services with advanced technology to help ease pressures. 

blue and white happy birthday print stone

Currently NHS data shows 19 out of 20 hospital beds are occupied, with 14,000 taken by someone who is clinically ready to leave, but unable to be discharged. This is because the appropriate care setting, such as residential homes, or social care packages that include at-home visits are unavailable.

To combat this, NHS England Transformation Directorate along with local authorities, national technology-enabled care (TEC) policymakers like TEC Cymru and other industry bodies have worked together to create a revised £150m framework.

NHS England said it wants 76% of patients admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours by 2024.

As part of the framework, NHS England has enabled the procurement of solutions to support virtual wards, allowing patients to have hospital-level care at home. Institutions such as GP practices, hospitals, health centres and emergency services can use the framework to access the technology in remote-patient care that meets national clinical safety standards.

In addition, other public sectors such as housing, local authorities and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) will also be able to use the framework.

To allow for so many organisations to benefit from the technology, NHS England says it plans to up-scale capacity from 7,000 virtual ward beds to 10,000 in autumn this year. Adam Nickerson, Head of Category, Digital and IT Procurement Frameworks at NHS Shared business Services said integrated care systems would be expected to deliver 40-50 virtual ward beds per 100,000 people by December.

‘The framework agreement enables ICSs and provider collaboratives – from housing authorities to local authorities – to strategically source quickly buy a mixture of goods be it a single, bundled or a fully managed service, which works across a region,’ Nickerson said. ‘It means they can better plan and deliver joined-up services and improve the health of the population across their regional wing of care.’

Image: Nick Fewings


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top