A&E patients are to be counseled via video call

Doctors on the laptop

The plan hopes to create 3,000 “virtual beds” (Image: Shutterstock)

Thousands of patients are receiving emergency consultations via video call instead of going to the emergency room to ease pressure on overwhelmed hospitals.

Elderly and vulnerable people who are recovering from falls or who are infirm are also being monitored remotely or visited daily, the health minister said.

The plan announced today aims to create 3,000 “virtual beds” by next winter, with around 50,000 people being cared for at home each month.

Stephen Barclay said: “While there is no quick fix, we can take immediate action to reduce long waits for urgent and emergency care.

“By expanding community care, the most vulnerable, frail and elderly patients can be better supported to continue living independently or recover at home.”

Stephen Barclay

Health Secretary Stephen Barclay hopes the initiative will help people recover at home rather than in a ward (Image: Rex)

“Not only will patients benefit from better experiences and outcomes, it will ease the pressure on our busy emergency departments.”

The NHS is grappling with strikes by nurses and paramedics over disputes over pay and conditions, as well as the backlog of cases in the wake of the pandemic.

Latest data shows delays in ambulance handovers outside hospitals in England have fallen to their lowest level this winter, but one in five patients is still waiting at least half an hour to be transferred to the emergency room. Mr Barclay suggested that “up to 20 per cent of admissions are preventable with the right care”.

The Department of Health said the plan builds on existing virtual wards.

But Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting accused ministers of “watering down” standards, saying even if the NHS achieves its targets “patients will have to wait longer than is safe”.

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https://metro.co.uk/2023/01/30/ae-patients-to-be-given-advice-by-video-call-18186180/ A&E patients are to be counseled via video call

Justin Scacco

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