Addenbrooke's pilots elderly care at home to free beds
A scheme to reduce the time elderly patients spend in hospital is to be piloted at a Cambridge hospital.
Addenbrooke's is working with healthcare provider MediHome to provide some patients with acute follow-up care "in the comfort of their own homes".
A spokesman said it could help free up beds but patients would remain under the care of their hospital consultant.
Charity Age UK described the scheme as "innovative" and added: "We will be following the outcome with interest."
Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH), which runs Addenbrooke's, said the nine-month pilot was designed to "address capacity issues at the trust".
Sandra Myers, associate director of operations for medical services, said: "MediHome is essentially a 'virtual ward' and means we can increase our capacity without needing a costly new building.
"With increasing demands on resources we can continue to meet the needs of our population and speed up the treatment of patients through the hospital system.
"This general concept has been in practice with the care of babies for 20 years," she added.
Dr Mark Lomax, co-founder of MediHome, said given the choice, most people preferred to be at home rather than in hospital.
"Our experienced clinical team... sees all patients prior to discharge home, and then provides the remaining treatment at home, liaising with the hospital consultant throughout," he said.
Ruthe Isden, Age UK policy manager said: "Many older people find being in hospital distressing, so any initiative that helps them to be cared for safely and effectively at home is a positive step forward."
MediHome has been working in partnership with NHS and private sector hospitals since 2002.