Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care System (ICS) will introduce virtual wards in order to increase bed capacity and deliver timely treatment to more patients.

Spirit Health will deliver the new virtual wards across 16 health categories via its remote monitoring platform, CliniTouch Vie, which enables patients to manage their condition at home. Patients are also supported by teams of healthcare clinicians who will use a combination of home monitoring solutions and home visits.

The use of virtual wards can help to prevent hospital admissions for some patients and supports earlier discharge from hospital in many cases. This helps to better manage bed capacity and ensure patients are treated swiftly.

Dr Caroline Trevithick, chief nursing officer and deputy chief executive for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland said: “Having the right technology partner is crucial in a successful virtual ward to keep everything running smoothly and ensure patients, relatives and health professionals feel supported and confident at all times.

“Spirit Health have been working with local NHS organisations during the pandemic on the pilot virtual ward schemes and we are delighted to be continuing our journey with them as we expand the virtual ward programme in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”

The virtual ward service will support heart failure, frailty, cardiology, acute respiratory, diabetes and Covid-19 patients, amongst other health categories. The service will be provided by a collaborative of local organisations, which include Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and LOROS hospice.

The plans support the latest guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement which was issued in May this year, asking for all integrated care systems to extend or introduce the virtual ward model.

In the coming months Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland will work with Spirit Health to refine the remote monitoring systems to ensure that patients are supported in the most appropriate way for each individual. By winter, it hopes to have nine virtual wards up and running, supporting 287 patients.

Dr Noel O’Kelly, clinical director at Spirit Health said: “Under this new partnership, we will work with the LLR ICS to deliver enhanced patient experiences and outcomes across nine health pathways using our remote patient monitoring technology. Patients will benefit from quick, simple and continuous access to healthcare professionals – helping more people to feel better connected and cared for, all from the comfort of their own homes.”

In addition to the virtual wards, Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland will also be working with Spirit Health to implement digitised pathways across primary, secondary and community care to help improve long-term condition management.