Patients in Milton Keynes can avoid hospital stays by being nursed at home in a ‘virtual bed’

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‘Virtual beds’ where patients are nursed at home will ease the pressure on over-stretched hospital services in 2018.

Patients would receive the same levels of care as on a hospital ward, but in the comfort of their mown bedroom or living room.

The move could not only speed up the recovery process, but will save the cash-strapped NHS considerable sums – particularly for elderly patients.

Currently it costs around £250 a night for an average overnight stay in hospital, say experts.

The Central North West London NHS Trust (CNWL), which runs many community and mental health services all over Milton Keynes has announced it will be trialling the use of virtual beds over the next year.

CNWL community teams have already joined forces with MK Council to work on an integrated health and social care concept called Home 1st.

Running 24 hours a day, he service will see patients triaged and assessed to discovered whether they are suitable for a virtual bed. This could mean they are released early from hospital or escape admission completely.

A CNWL spokesman said: “The team will trial the use of virtual beds - giving the same therapy and care input for a patient at home as they would receive in a rehabilitation bed.”

A survey in Southampton showed only two per cent of patients nursed in a virtual the mainly elderly bed at home ended up back in hospital.

Nationally, an average seven per cent of patients nursed on a ward after undergoing surgery such as hip or knee replacements end up having to return to hospital.

The virtual bed scheme was announced in CNWL Trusts annual review published this month. View the review on their website www.cnwl.nhs.uk