From Monday 14 February 2022 NHS Borders will operate a Covid Virtual Ward.

There are three groups of patients who may benefit from being monitored in the Covid Virtual Ward:

> Patients who are already in hospital because of COVID-19 and who are getting better
> People who have presented at hospital because of COVID-19 and do need some treatment, but can get the treatment safely at home
> Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are eligible for antiviral treatment

Patients must have a face to face assessment from a clinician before they are referred to the Covid Virtual Ward. If you or someone you care for is looked after on the Virtual Ward you will be provided with a patient information leaflet describing how the ward works and how you will be monitored. You will receive an item of equipment called a Pulse Oximeter and be shown how to use it, and you will be given a patient diary to record your symptoms.

Patients on the Covid Virtual Ward will be contacted every day by a clinician to discuss their readings and symptoms, and how they are feeling. Patients will also receive a number to call if they need advice or support, or feel that their condition is getting worse.

Talking about the new development, Medical Director Dr Lynn McCallum said; “The introduction of the Covid Virtual Ward is a really positive step forward in caring for patients who have COVID-19. “In many cases COVID-19 causes a mild illness which does not require acute medical treatment, but for this group of people does need to be closely monitored. Rather than being stuck in a hospital bed, in the Virtual Ward this monitoring takes place in the comfort of your own home, safe in the knowledge that you can get in touch with a clinical professional immediately if you need to. I want to reassure people that Virtual Wards are a tried and tested way of caring for people safely. Although this is a new development in the Borders, patients with Covid-19 have been looked after in this way from the onset of the pandemic. As part of the assessment process before someone is admitted to the Virtual Ward we make sure that they fully understand what they need to do and that they are able to do it. As well as being a better experience for the patient, introducing a Covid Virtual Ward means that we can free up space in the BGH to help support the restart of activity that has had to be paused during the pandemic and the most recent Omicron wave, so this is really good news for everyone.”

The COVID Virtual Ward will be trialled initially until 31 March 2022.