Life-saving Covid gear is being delivered throughout the Thames Valley Information

The South Central Ambulance Service offers home oxygen monitoring kits for higher risk patients

Author: Jonathan RichardsPublished 20 hours ago
Last updated 18 hours ago

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) paramedics are the first in the country to provide Covid-19 patients with home oxygen monitoring kits when they don’t need immediate hospitalization but are at higher risk of complications.

The initiative, which started in Hampshire and is now being carried out across the Thames Valley area, will ensure that patients with mild symptoms but other risk factors such as age over 65, cancer or other health conditions can monitor their oxygen levels and know when to seek help .

The packs contain a pulse oximeter, symptom diary, and a set of strict guidelines and are only distributed to patients who require an emergency medical examination.

The development follows recent research by doctors at SCAS, which found that only a small drop in blood oxygen levels – but within the normal range – could be an important early warning sign of worsening patients before the onset of dyspnoea.

In most bacterial and non-Covid pneumonia cases, shortness of breath occurs relatively early in the disease and before a significant drop in oxygen levels known as hypoxia.

However, with Covid-19, a drop in oxygen levels often first comes first, known as “silent hypoxia,” and patients can feel significantly uncomfortable by the time they become breathless.


The team that SCAS Medical Director Dr. John Black, and the department’s medical director, Professor Charles Deakin, examined nearly 20,000 patients calling for an ambulance between March 1 and July 31 last year.

They then analyzed the oxygen levels of 1,080 confirmed Covid-positive patients at the time they were first examined by paramedics at home.

Patients whose blood oxygen levels fell only 1% to 2% below 96% – still in the normal range of 94% to 98% – and showed no signs of shortness of breath often had to be admitted to the intensive care unit and had a lower chance of survival.

According to the study conducted by Dr. Matthew Inada-Kim, a general and acute care advisor at the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, headed and preprinted via medRxiv, NHS England launched a nationwide roll out of its COVID Oximetry @ home initiative.

The project involves supplying home pulse oximetry kits to people who have tested positive and are at greater risk of complications such as: B. in patients with health problems and over 65s. To date, around 300,000 patients are being delivered from local health systems to patients across the country.

How it works

The oximeters work by placing a clip on the end of a finger to measure blood oxygen levels and heart rate. When oxygen levels drop to 94% or 93%, patients are asked to call their GP or NHS 111 – or 999 if it drops to 92% or less.

“Our original research helped support the further roll-out of the COVID Oximetry @ home project so that patients in risk groups can directly monitor their blood oxygen levels and ensure timely referral to hospital if necessary,” said Dr. Black.

“We are now excited to be the first ambulance to offer patients pulse oximeters along with instructions once we have assessed them and determined that they do not need to be hospitalized and that they are at increased risk of their condition changing.

“It gives patients the peace of mind that they can independently check their oxygen levels regularly and seek the help they need when their oxygen levels drop below 95%. For us, this means that our clinicians can give patients the ability to recognize any change immediately and act quickly. “

An additional tab will be added to the paramedics’ electronic health record devices to allow them to record the deployment of a pulse oximeter to allow for retrospective verification of the initiative’s effectiveness.

Dr. Black added, “It is hoped that the immediate identification of hypoxia by home oximetry will result in earlier hospitalization for patients who later deteriorate. This has the potential to improve clinical outcomes in Covid-19 patients, with complications. ”

If a patient has no further complications and recovers at home, they are asked to return the device to their own GP practice or local COVID Oximetry @ home service after 14 days.

Hear the latest news from across the UK every hour on the hour on Greatest Hits Radio on DAB, and the Greatest Hits Radio app.

Comments are closed.