Push for virtual wards an opportunity for the private sector

The push to expand the number of ‘virtual wards’ across England is set to be another opportunity for independent providers to gain NHS contracts. NHS England wants a rapid expansion of these wards to reach a target of 40 virtual beds per 100,000 population by December 2023.

In the NHSE’s recently published guidance to Integrated Care Systems (ICS), commissioners of services are reminded that: 

“Given the independent sector is already a valued partner in many local health and care systems, as providers of a range of NHS healthcare services, the delivery of virtual wards is an opportunity to build on these relationships.

“Partnerships with independent sector healthcare providers (ISHCPs) may expand local capacity and enhance capability through strong local partnerships with existing acute and primary care providers”

The commissioners are also reminded that the independent sector should be considered as both a provider of healthcare and of technology for the ‘virtual wards’.

The idea of ‘virtual wards’ has been around for some time now, but the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated their development, and this has now expanded to other patient groups. The NHSE is making £450 million available over the next two years to set up these wards.

Full story in The Lowdown, 4 May 2022

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