Hospital at Home’s virtual wards programme has secured a £3.6m from government to expand its use across Scotland.

More than 150 extra virtual beds will be supported after the Scottish Government announced additional funding for the scheme.

Hospital at Home can provide a safe, patient centred alternative to an acute hospital admission. It provides a better outcome for the patient, who receives treatment in the safety and comfort of their own home, as well as reducing pressure on hospital sites.

The investment for 2023-24, which will take the total funding in the service to more than £10.7m since 2020, will increase patients managed through Hospital at Home by 50 per cent – an additional 156 beds. 

Funding will be available to existing services, and areas yet to develop Hospital at Home, with improvement support provided by Healthcare Improvement Scotland. 

Health Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Hospital at Home has already proved to be very successful and most importantly, beneficial to patients and the wider system.

“That’s why we have allocated a further £3.6m so more people can be managed at home rather than in hospital.

“Patients have spoken very positively about the service and it also reduces pressure on A&E and the Scottish Ambulance Service by avoiding admissions and accelerating discharge. Hospital beds will always be available to people who need them, but this is a better alternative for many.”

Belinda Robertson, associate director of improvement, Healthcare Improvement Scotland said:“We’re delighted the Scottish Government will continue to fund the development of Hospital At Home services. An increasing number of patients are experiencing the benefits of receiving acute hospital care at home.

“More and more NHS boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships are embracing Hospital At Home by establishing and developing services. We will continue to support NHS boards and Partnerships to further develop the services they provide, and share learning across all Hospital At Home services.”

Since 2020 the Scottish Government has made available more than £8m to support the development of Hospital at Home. 

The support has enabled the spread of Hospital at Home from seven to 21 Health and Social Care Partnerships providing 312 beds, including the development of services in the more challenging remote and rural areas such as Highland, Western Isles and Scottish Borders.

A recently published progress report by Healthcare Improvement Scotland showed a 68 per cent increase in patients managed by Hospital at Home services – 7,369 patients managed between April and November 2022, compared to 4,374 the same period the previous year. 

Hospital at Home currently has virtual bed provision equivalent to the capacity of St John’s Hospital in Livingston (291 beds) or University Hospital Ayr (312 beds).