Vulnerable people in Norfolk and Waveney suffering from coronavirus will now have access to potentially life-saving devices called pulse oximeters.

The small device clips onto the finger and monitors not only the heart-rate but also oxygen levels in the blood.

If the level is falling, the person with symptoms will know that their condition is at risk of deteriorating, and intervention can be sought sooner.

In a statement, the NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “People who have been diagnosed with coronavirus, are symptomatic, and either extremely vulnerable to coronavirus or aged 65 or older, including people in care homes, will be provided with a pulse oximeter and supporting information so that they can self-monitor their oxygen levels at home for up to 14 days, with assistance from carers and/or family where appropriate.”

Sadie Parker, the CCG’s associate director of primary care, said: “Following successful testing in various parts of the country, Norfolk and Waveney CCG has launched a COVID Oximetry@home model as part of the ongoing response to the pandemic.

“This service empowers patients to self-monitor, detect and act on early deterioration of COVID-19. The programme will save lives, reduce complications, length of stay and intensive care admissions in hospitals.”

The CCG added: “Regular prompts or check-in calls, emails or texts will be offered to confirm that the patient is using the oximeter and recording the information correctly, usually via a paper diary or suitable app.

“Clear guidance on what to do in case of any concerns will be provided, with 24/7 access to advice and support.

“If, after 14 days of the onset of symptoms, patients show no signs of deterioration with coronavirus, they will be appropriately discharged from the service and given advice on returning the oximeter safely, and how to continue supporting themselves at home.”

In addition to NHS Volunteer Responders helping to deliver oximeters to people’s homes where necessary, local voluntary groups are also pitching in.

Thetford & Brandon Times: Alison Webb, the Breckland District Councillor who coordinates the Dereham Cares group of volunteersAlison Webb, the Breckland District Councillor who coordinates the Dereham Cares group of volunteers (Image: Archant)

In Dereham, councillor Alison Webb said that the Dereham Cares support group will be on hand to help the Orchard surgery.

“Thirty-one of our volunteers have said they will help with this important task and as ever I would like to thank them for their help,” said Mrs Webb.