GPs support 5,000 coronavirus patients at home by monitoring blood oxygen levels

29 January 2021

GPs are supporting patients who test positive for coronavirus and are most clinically at risk of Covid-19 by giving them devices to monitor oxygen levels in their blood.

Covid-19 has shown a particular symptom called ‘silent hypoxia’ where a patient can feel relatively well despite blood oxygen levels dropping to dangerous levels.

Called oximeters, patients (or their carers) use the device in their own home (or care home) and then the readings are collected regularly by NHS staff by phone.

If the readings show oxygen levels are starting to fall, the patient can be referred to the hospital to get the treatment they need early.

So far GPs in Kent and Medway have issued 5000 oximeters and as a result, nearly 200 patients have got to hospital early for treatment.

Dr Simon DunnDr Simon Dunn, a GP, (pictured right) who is leading the introduction of the service, known as Oximetry@home, across Kent and Medway, said:

“Evidence shows that monitoring oxygen levels in the blood gives those patients most at risk from Covid-19 the best chance of survival.

“Patients can be referred to the hospital at the right time and get the treatment they need early.

“It reduces the number of patients who have to be admitted to intensive treatment units.”

Dr Dunn added: “This is good for patients as it will keep them safer and it will help protect the NHS, as it will help reduce pressure on intensive care.

“If you are in one of the most clinically at risk groups and test positive for Covid, you should be contacted within 24 hours of a positive test and be offered an oximeter.”

The risk of death from Covid-19 increases with:
  • age
  • long term conditions
  • being overweight
  • having a learning disability
  • having a job that has lots of contact with others
Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure add to the risks and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities and those living in areas of deprivation, are more likely to be affected by these conditions.

NHS advice 

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