THE NUMBER of virtual ward beds is set to double across Shropshire as part of a scheme to reduce the number of hospital patients.

Over 100 Shropshire patients are cared for at home as part of a virtual ward.

Patients are reviewed daily by a clinical team and the ‘ward round’ can involve a home visit or take place online.

Medical professionals can carry out blood tests, prescribe medication or administer fluids intravenously.

Speaking at a Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust board meeting chief executive Patricia Davies said the trust is required to have 249 virtual ward beds by December.

She said currently there are over 100 patients on the virtual ward with a target of trying to reach 118 patients 'consistently’.

Mrs Davies added that some of the patients have ‘stepped up’ from community care onto a virtual ward, while others have ‘stepped down’ from hospital care.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of step-down patients from the acute trust,” said Mrs Davies.

“There are some fantastic presentations around the positive impacts that we’ve had jointly on patients by getting them home earlier, not decompensating therefore and being able to treat their acute condition at home.

“One of the fears is that it’s providing more workload to primary care.

“In fact, it’s supporting primary care as that patient is being seen and monitored far more frequently.”

She added that their work was helped by the integrated discharge team, who ‘look at the proactive discharge of patients.’

Mrs Davies added that the number of referrals to their integrated discharge team is 35 per cent higher than the previous year.