HomeLink Healthcare has been named as a supplier on NHS Shared Business Services’ (NHS SBS) Patient Discharge and Mental Health Step Down Beds Services Framework Agreement.

It means that NHS partners are now able to procure the HomeLink Healthcare Discharge to Assess and Virtual Wards solutions directly.

The NHS SBS’ framework agreement has been developed to reduce the demand on NHS trusts, by supporting them with their adult patient discharge pathways.

HomeLink Healthcare has been approved under two Lots:

  • Lot 1: Discharge to Assess Services –  Facilitates patient discharge not only from emergency departments but also from the wider acute hospital and community care settings.
  • Lot 6: Virtual Ward Support Services – Supplies a ‘secondary care’ service within a patient’s care setting for up to six weeks. Patients are transferred to the Virtual Ward Support Service following a referral from the trust’s clinical discharge teams on acceptance by service leads.

The framework will allow trusts to procure services quickly – which will be vital as we approach the winter months.

Jill Ireland, CEO and clinical director at HomeLink Healthcare, said: “Being named as a supplier on the framework agreement for both Discharge to Assess and Virtual Wards is testament to our experience in the provision of safe and effective out-of-hospital pathways.

“With seasonal resilience funding awards expected imminently, use of this framework agreement means NHS organisations that move quickly will be able to get new services up and running in time for winter. This is good news for patients, and the healthcare system”

Hospital at Home services help to free up hospital capacity, improve patient flow, reduce delayed discharges, deliver better patient outcomes and cost significantly less than in-hospital care.

According to NHS England patients who are on virtual wards are five times less likely to acquire an infection and eight times less likely to experience functional decline, compared to an acute setting. In addition, 23% of these patients achieve a more independent social care outcome too.

Elaine Alsop, head of category – health, at NHS SBS, said: “Delays in discharge processes and limited capacity in social and community care, are making it challenging for NHS hospitals and mental health services to discharge patients appropriately.

“Free to access, our Patient Discharge and Mental Health Step Down Beds Services framework agreement is designed to support the transition of patients from hospital, reducing instances of pressure on acute hospital beds, Social Services and re-admissions.

“In turn, this enables health and care providers to free up capacity to deal with other patients. improve quality of care and health outcomes.”

Back in January this year the UK government announced its intention of expanding the use of virtual wards, with the ambition of treating up to 50,000 patients a month in order to reduce pressure on the NHS.