< Northern Care Alliance - BCN

A game-changer for NCA’s Bed Management Team


The Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust (NCA) provides patients and service users with a range of integrated health and social care services in homes, communities, and hospitals. Its 20,000 employees offer healthcare to over one million people across Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, and Salford, and also more specialist care to patients across Greater Manchester and beyond.

Due to the pandemic, NCA was struggling to reconfigure bays and beds at the speed they needed to. The reason was obvious: the core systems they used to record their bed complement information were simply not sophisticated enough.

They had the correct bed complements (beds and bays), and these were all pre-configured correctly. But during the course of a day, and across the whole organisation, this would change constantly as beds became available or unavailable or bays were closed completely and then re-opened.

However, reconfiguring their core systems to account for the changes would have taken more than a day, so by the time they’d reconfigured their bed complement, it was likely the status of both bed and bay capacity had once again changed.

The key issue was mandatory reporting, general medical submissions, and a host of other things that depended on having an accurate bed complement. Up to this point, NCA’s informatics team had also built a series of dashboards in Power BI that took data from various sources from their EPR system, but one thing that always stayed static was the beds.

For example, you could look at the dashboard and see bay B4 had available beds, but then a hand-up would have to explain that they’d just had to swap B4 out, reducing bed capacity by four. NCA knew there had to be an easier and simpler way for their Bed Management team to have visibility of bed capacity in real-time, rather than rely on an Excel spreadsheet that was hard to manipulate in Power BI.

In effect, NCA needed a more efficient way for the Bed Management team to do closures themselves, and mark them as high, medium, or low for Covid-levels, in real-time. The team knew what they wanted, and that it’d work, but being on the first part of their Power Apps journey, they decided to get a specialist in.


So we spent some time with NCA defining a simple specification, and after a week went back with a prototype. The prototype enabled the Bed Management team to choose a hospital, then a ward, then a bay. This would list the beds and give the team the option to “close” or “open bays based on what the Covid-level was at that moment – or flip them back later if a bay’s status changed. We also ensured that every time the dashboard was rolled and refreshed it updated, so the team had an absolute real-time position of their bays and bed capacity in any given moment.

Needless to say, the prototype was well-received and since it’s been up and running it’s been in our client’s own’ words, “a game-changer. The teams love it and our COO loves it. Amazing!”. It’s now being rolled out across NCA’s wider organisation.

“The prototype was exactly how I envisaged it. It’s an absolute game-changer for us. We’re no longer reliant on our core systems team having to constantly make changes to our core systems in terms of bed complement.”