A NATIONAL expert has cast his eye over work being carried out by hospitals in Colchester.

Sir John Oldham, the expert in treating long-term conditions, is leading a the ‘virtual ward’ programme, which is being trialled by the NHS in North East Essex.

The project aims to bring groups together to help patients with multiple needs in their own homes, instead of being admitted to hospital.

During his time in the town, where he visited Firstsite and Turner Road primary care centre, Sir John also met representatives from charity Crossroads, Colchester Prosthetic User Group and Colchester Breatheasy Group.

Dr Jo Broadbent, public health consultant with the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The virtual ward initiative has proved to be very exciting.

“It was designed to offer patients better preventative care and so reduce the amount of time people with multiple long-term conditions spend in hospital.

“It is better for the patient to be treated in the community, especially at home if possible, and it is better for the hospital as it can focus on treating people who need to be in hospital.

Sir John added: “I very much enjoyed meeting everyone and seeing how much has been achieved.”

“I particularly valued seeing the links from the NHS and social care bodies to the voluntary sector.”