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A state-of-the-art bed management system has been shortlisted in the “Improving Urgent and Emergency Care through Digital” category in the HSJ Digital Awards 2023. The awards celebrate the power of digital products, projects and services to transform care delivery, enhance efficiency, and improve patient outcomes.

The bed management system underpins the ‘Care Coordination Centre’ at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) where the state-of-the-art technology gives an expert team real time information about bed occupancy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This data shows how many of the 700 beds across its hospitals are empty, may need cleaning or have a patient who is leaving. This has helped significantly improve bed turnaround times and helps provide patients with the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

With visibility of available beds, MTW has significantly reduced the amount of time a bed is empty and the time a patient spends in the Emergency Department (ED) before they are transferred to a bed. This ensures patients arriving in ambulances are quickly moved into the hospital, has helped increase the number of planned operations performed each day, and given nurses and ward staff more time back to focus on patient care. Dedicated bed cleaning and portering teams also help reduce the pressure on nurses and maximise the speed at which patients can be transferred to available beds.

Since its launch the system has more than halved the time a hospital bed in the Trust is empty, and it has recently expanded into Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s community hospitals – one of the UK’s first examples of shared operational decision-making and capacity planning across a region – and virtual wards for management at home.

The system has attracted national attention, with recent visits from Amanda Pritchard, the Chief Executive of NHS England, and from Steve Barclay MP, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to see the technology in action.

Miles Scott, the Trust’s Chief Executive said: “Our approach at MTW is not just ‘more of the same’ but using new ways of working to meet an increase in demand. Our bed management system helps make the very best use of the clinics, wards and specialist skilled staff in our hospitals.

“The system helps ensure our patients get the right care, in the right place at the right time, helping to minimise discharge delays and getting patients home or to their next place of care as quickly as possible.”

The improvements that the system has brought mean that MTW has no long-waiting patients (those waiting over 50 weeks for planned care) and has the best urgent care performance in the region. Despite increasing attendances at the Trust’s Emergency Departments, the Trust is regularly ranked as one of the highest performing Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in the country, and has recently been recognised as 4th best performing trust in the country.

The full shortlist is on the HSJ awards website. The winner will be announced on 22 June.