Colchester: Praise for ‘virtual wards’ home nursing scheme
A LEADING figure from the Department of Health has praised the work being carried out to help people with long-term conditions in Colchester.
Sir John Oldham, national clinical lead for long-term conditions, is leading a national programme of quality improvement in long-term care, of which the NHS in north east Essex has been playing a major part through its virtual ward project.
The scheme delivers joined-up care across health and social care agencies to keep people with multiple needs out of hospital and in their own homes.
During the visit, Sir John met with several voluntary sector groups including Crossroads, Colchester Prosthetic User Group and Colchester Breathe Easy Group, which are offering support to virtual ward patients.
The support includes befriending and social activities such as lunch clubs, as well as support with specific conditions such as diabetes and stroke.
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He said: “I very much enjoyed meeting everyone and seeing how much has been achieved.
“I particularly valued seeing the links from the NHS and social care bodies to the voluntary sector.”
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Sir John also met with leaders from across the health and social care sector to discuss how to take forward integrated care for people with long-term conditions.
Dr Jo Broadbent, consultant in public health with North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The virtual ward initiative has proved to be very exciting.
“It was designed to offer patients better preventative care and so reduce the amount of time people with multiple long-term conditions spend in hospital.
“It is better for the patient to be treated in the community, especially at home if possible, and it is better for the hospital as it can focus on treating people who need to be in hospital.
“Suitable patients with complex, long-term conditions or those with an identified risk of emergency admission to hospital are referred to the service by GPs, district nurses, hospital staff and social services staff.
“Health and social care staff visit patients at home and talk to them and their families about the sort of help required to help them manage their condition.”
She added: “Half of north-east Essex is now covered by the project and we are working to roll it out to the rest of the area as soon as possible.”
The virtual ward project involves North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, GPs, Essex County Council social care, Anglian Community Enterprise, Tendring District Council, Colchester Borough Council and the voluntary sector.