Hospital beds crisis in Northamptonshire can be tackled with help of new computer system

Freeing up hospital beds could save a substantial amount of money
Freeing up hospital beds could save a substantial amount of money

A new computer system is expected to help prevent patients from spending ‘too long’ in local hospital beds.

Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet is set to agree to allow the authority to procure the system, which is currently a prototype and will soon go live.

It comes after recent research found that up to a third of 1,000 hospital beds in the county are occupied by a person who could have been discharged.

The current beds crisis, the council says, leads to ‘unacceptable levels of occupancy in the hospitals’ with the limited capacity leading to ‘significant costs across the system’.

But the catchily named Demand, Capacity and Flow (DCF) system is expected to help ‘manage and map’ demand at the hospitals in Northampton and Kettering, as well as health venues operated by the Nene and Corby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

Older people in Northamptonshire are twice as likely to be referred to A&E by GPs than the national average, leading to ‘too many people going into hospital and then waiting too long to come out’.

And a hospital bed is estimated to cost £450 a day and long-term social care for the over 65s costs an average of £600 a week.

The system is the first nationally to include GP and full social care data. This, the council says, is ‘already yielding benefits that will help us reduce admissions, time in hospital and discharge timeliness’.

Work commenced in June 2018 to build the system, but the county council believes that ‘better value for money can be achieved’ if it purchases it from the developer.

Should cabinet agree next Tuesday (October 9), the council will procure the £700,000 system, with partners from the CCGs and Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust all contributing towards the costs.

The system could save up to £730,000 each year due to ‘more sustainable occupancy levels’ across hospital and care venues in the county.