17 Feb 2021

Mike Hale, 66, a patient at Mill Street Medical Practice, was one of the first patients to receive a pulse oximeter after being referred to the Covid Oximetry at Home service stating that the service "saved his life".

Mike Hale, 66, a patient at Mill Street Medical Practice, was one of the first patients referred to the Covid Oximetry at Home service when he developed Covid-19 symptoms along with other members of his family on 3 January, testing positive for the virus several days later.  Mike had no significant underlying conditions but whereas his wife and son recovered quickly, Mike felt more and more unwell and began to feel pain while breathing.

By 13 January he was feeling so unwell that his wife contacted 111 who confirmed his symptoms weren’t severe enough for a 999 emergency. Still concerned, she contacted the GP practice and after an initial telephone triage Mike was seen at the ‘hot hub’ for Covid patients and given a pulse oximeter to use at home.  After taking pulse readings for two days and contact with clinicians from the service, the decision was taken to admit Mike to hospital as the numbers dipped to below an ‘acceptable’ level.  Following nasal oxygen treatment on a Covid ward at Whiston Hospital for several days, Mike was discharged home, still on the Covid Oximetry at home service.

Mike says: “Looking back I couldn’t have coped at home anymore.  I’m not a dramatic person and don’t like to make a fuss but I felt so unwell, like I’d been hit by a bus, with aches from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. 

“My pulse readings told the doctors early that I needed to go to hospital whereas I would have struggled on at home, not knowing what to do – and probably the outcome would have been much, much worse.  People in the ward around me were really poorly and I consider myself lucky that I only needed nasal oxygen. 

“I’m now home and on the road to recovery but the outcome could have been very different if I’d not been admitted to hospital when I was.  This little device stopped Covid from really taking hold and stopped me from needing to be on a ventilator.  I really consider this service to have saved my life.”

The Covid Oximetry at Home service has been running in St Helens since the beginning of the year.  Patients with Covid-19 who don’t need immediate hospital attention but are at high risk of developing serious symptoms are given pulse oximeters to use at home and record blood oxygen readings three times a day to reduce the risk of serious deterioration.

Dr Greg Irving, local GP and Clinical Lead for the Covid Oximetry at Home service, says:

“We have good evidence that patients at risk of poorer outcomes from Covid-19 can benefit from having their reduced oxygen levels identified earlier in the course of the illness.  This ability to recognise early decreases in blood oxygen levels before a patient becomes symptomatic is absolutely vital.

“With patients recording their readings from the pulse oximeter we can make sure we keep a close eye on these at risk patients and get them into hospital before their blood oxygen levels drop too much - giving them a far better chance of recovery as we now have proven treatments that can improve survival rates.

“Having Covid-19 can be scary and this service provides reassurance for at risk patients and their families that they are not alone and that doctors in the community are supporting them.  It is good to hear that Mike and his wife had a positive experience and we were able to support them with his illness in this way."