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Virtual ward shortlisted for top accolade

An initiative by Addenbrooke’s which has so far enabled more than 1,300 patients to be treated in the comfort of their own homes has been shortlisted for a national award, it was announced today

The Cambridge University Hospitals’ virtual ward is singled out in the 2024 Health Service Journal Digital Awards recognising innovative digital projects that transform care delivery, enhance efficiency, and improve outcomes and patient experience.

A total of 343 entries were received, with 165 projects and individuals shortlisted by judges who are impressed the high volume – and quality – of applications.

The CUH virtual ward was established in 2022 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by a dedicated nursing and consultant team.

So far it has helped treat more than 1,300 patients recovering from a wide variety of medical and surgical conditions. These include respiratory, gastro and frailty conditions that can be safely managed remotely. It has achieved a 97 per cent positive patient experience and freed up more than 4,000 bed hours.

Patients on the virtual ward are monitored constantly by using smart phone apps, technology platforms and wearable medical devices, such as temperature readers and pulse oximeters

At the same time, a team of senior nurses check in with patients up to four times a day by phone or video call, with care also available face-to-face from multi-disciplinary teams.

If patients need further care, such as blood tests, scans or intravenous therapy, they can come into hospital for regular appointments or be visited in their own homes.

Getting the virtual ward established was a huge team effort driven by programme lead, intensive care consultant Dr Iain Goodhart, lead nurse Gemma Czech and operations manager Andy Bailey.

Andy Bailey, Gemma Czech and Dr Ian Goodhart
Pictured (L to R) are operations manager Andy Bailey, CUH virtual ward lead nurse, Gemma Czech and programme lead, Dr Iain Goodhart.

Dr Goodhart said: "For patients, virtual wards mean they can leave hospital days or even weeks earlier, while still getting the expert care they need.

“They can benefit from the comfort of their own surroundings, sleeping in their own bed, eating their own food, and being in the company of their family, friends and pets.

“This often speeds up their recovery and reduces the risk of hospital acquired infections, with patients able to steadily return to daily routines and avoid deconditioning.

We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for this award, which stands as testimony to the hard work that everyone has put into setting up the ward and making it the success it is today.

Dr Ian Goodhart

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan, said:

We can’t wait to welcome our finalists to the awards ceremony, celebrating their impressive achievements and jointly acknowledging our values of sharing best practice, improving patient outcomes and continuously driving for better service.

Alastair McLellan

The winners will be announced in Manchester on 6 June by a judging panel made up of a diverse range of highly influential and respected figures within the healthcare community.