Health

Covid-19 rehab to be provided through ‘virtual wards’ at home for many patients



Many people suffering long-term health problems as a result of Covid-19 will get their care through so-called virtual wards.

NHS England said that expanded rehab facilities for coronavirus patients can “largely be provided in existing physical facilities as well as people’s own homes” through virtual wards.

Some will be helped through their recovery journey with the aid of the yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk website. Others will get their care through enhanced current rehab facilities.


However the news has come as a blow to some local health officials who had hoped to create new coronavirus rehab facilities but they have learned that no capital funding would be available, the HSJ reported.

The NHS in England said that work with local providers found that these expanded rehab services can largely be provided in existing physical facilities as well as people’s own homes.

And the Government has confirmed £500 million of additional revenue funding over the rest of this year for Covid rehab services. But no extra capital funding will be available.

After a new rehab facility was opened in Surrey in May – billed by health officials as the “First Seacole Centre” – NHS officials across the country were instructed to plan how best to deliver services.

For some, they created plans to replicate the Seacole Centre but the HSJ reported that local leaders have now been told there is no capital funding to build them.

It reported that multiple capital bids for new Seacole units have been rejected.

Ruth Ten Hove, director at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, told the HSJ: “The message we have been given is that people can now do their rehab online (through a new NHS website).

“We were involved in the website and it can get good outcomes. But it’s not for everyone and using that alone will widen health inequalities and digital exclusion.”

Dawn Skelton, professor of ageing and health at Glasgow Caledonian University and a member of the British Geriatric Society Rehabilitation Group, said: “While providing local rehabilitation services instead of central Seacole Centres will be preferable to many, local services need funding to ensure they are fit for purpose and able to meet the needs of the population they serve.

“Older people have already been the group hardest-hit by this virus, whether they contracted it or not. The rehabilitation support needed to help them return to independent functioning and preserve quality of life should now be given priority.”

An NHS spokesman said: “The Government has now confirmed around £500 million of additional revenue funding over the rest of this year for Covid rehab services, available as part of enhanced hospital discharge, as originally planned.

“Work with local NHS and social care providers suggests that these expanded rehab services can largely be provided in existing physical facilities as well as people’s own homes, so Government has not allocated extra capital in year for this purpose.”

Additional reporting by Press Association.



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