COVID-19 remote monitoring scheme supports patients in Greater Manchester

Patients at risk from COVID-19 in Greater Manchester are being supported through a national programme designed to provide an early-warning system if their condition worsens.

During the pandemic, reduced oxygen saturation levels have been shown to be a key identifier of deterioration in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. COVID Oximetry @home uses pulse oximeters for patients to safely self-monitor their condition at home, providing an opportunity to detect a decline in their condition that might require hospital review and admission.

The device fits over the middle finger and calculates oxygen levels in the blood. As part of the service, patients record their oxygen saturation levels in a patient diary before reporting the readings to a clinical team over the telephone. Some patients chose to use an app and report their pulse oximeter reading through their smart phone.

The programme is managed by NHS England and NHS Improvement, in partnership with NHSX and NHS Digital. It has been supported by England’s 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives, including Greater Manchester and Eastern Cheshire Patient Safety Collaborative, hosted by Health Innovation Manchester.

From a starting point of 20% of Clinical Commissioning Groups in November 2020, 100% of CCGs had established a fully operational COVID Oximetry @home pathway by early February. This includes all CCGs in Greater Manchester.

Patient Safety Collaboratives (hosted by Academic Health Science Networks) supported this rapid spread by working closely with CCGs in their region to offer quality improvement expertise, access to training and resources, data collection and evaluation, and by facilitating a national learning network.

The COVID virtual ward model is a secondary-care-led initiative, using remote pulse oximetry monitoring to support early and safe discharge from hospital (step-down care) for COVID patients. 94% of acute trusts now have access to a COVID virtual ward, an increase of 69% since the beginning of the year.

Natasha Swinscoe, national patient safety lead for the AHSN Network and CEO of the West of England AHSN, said: “We have learned so much during this pandemic, and this impressive uptake in the use of pulse oximetry has undoubtedly saved lives. It has also allowed us to ensure, where appropriate, we can provide safe care for vulnerable people shielding at home through simple, remote monitoring. I’m proud of the role Patient Safety Collaboratives have taken, providing support and assistance ‘on the ground’ to establish completely new ways of working in such a short space of time.”

This intensive PSC support to implement these pathways is due to wind down at the end of March 2021, with AHSNs continuing to support systems to embed @home models in the long-term.

Find out more about the COVID Oximetry @home and COVID virtual ward work in Greater Manchester .

For more details about the national programme, visit

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