GPs should work with ICSs to step up pulse oximetry services as a ‘Covid-19 response priority’ alongside the vaccination programme, NHS England has said.
An NHS England letter, sent yesterday, asked all ICSs to aim for a ‘full step-up’ of Covid ‘Oximetry @home’ services to achieve ‘comprehensive coverage’ by the end of 2021.
It added that ‘all patients who meet the onboarding criteria within the standard operating procedure (SOP) should be offered oximetry self-monitoring to improve safety for those at risk and to help avoid unnecessary admissions’.
‘Supporting this will involve ICSs working with primary care teams as a Covid-19 response priority, alongside the Covid-19 vaccination programme,’ it said.
NHS England also set ICSs a target of ‘a minimum of 15% of all Covid inpatients’ to be treated via virtual wards by 31 December, as ‘an initial yardstick’, in a bid to reduce pressure on hospitals.
It added that many systems were already exceeding the target and went onto caution that ‘only patients who would otherwise be in a hospital bed’ should be ‘onboarded onto the more intensive virtual ward model’.
Others should be ‘considered for onboarding onto oximetry patient self-monitoring’.
Virtual wards should be ‘hospital surpervised’ while oximetry at home services are ‘primary care supervised’, the document added.
GP practices have been using pulse oximetry to remotely monitor Covid patients’ oxygen levels since the summer of 2020.
In September this year, eligibility for the programme was extended to all Covid patients who are not fully vaccinated.
Click to complete relevant respiratory CPD modules on Pulse Learning.