Council to purchase data system that will help free up hospital beds in Northamptonshire

Up to a third of hospital beds in Northamptonshire are occupied by people who don't need them
Up to a third of hospital beds in Northamptonshire are occupied by people who don't need them

A new computer system that will help free up hospital beds has been given the go-ahead to go live by Northamptonshire County Council.

The authority’s cabinet voted on Tuesday afternoon to agree to the procurement of the prototype system.

It comes after recent research found that up to a third of 1,000 hospital beds in the county is 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’.

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 new 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).

Councillor Danielle Stone asked whether the system came as a result of the latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report, but Anna Earnshaw, director of adult services, said that the new system was presented to the CQC as ‘a solution’ to the current problems.

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

That will now be put into practice after cabinet agreed that council would procure the £700k system, with health partners from the CCGs and Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust all contributing towards the costs.

It could help save up to £730k each year due to ‘more sustainable occupancy levels’ across hospital and care venues in the county.