The right bed occupancy
17/07/2018by Rob Findlay
What should your bed occupancy be? It’s one of the most important questions in the NHS because it’s a huge driver of cost, A&E performance, elective cancellations, and patient safety.
Yet so far, all we have had for an answer is magic numbers. The most popular is 85 per cent, which relates to a very specific situation but is widely cited as something for every hospital to aspire to. More recently NHS England and NHS Improvement have recommended 92 per cent, although I confess I’m not entirely sure where that originated.
No magic numbers
Which of those numbers is correct? Actually, neither. There is no correct answer – different wards in different hospitals need to run at different bed occupancies.
A large general ward block can absorb fluctuating demand more easily – and run at higher occupancy – than a paediatric ward or critical care unit. And elective activity is predictable but emergencies are not, so emergency beds need to run at lower occupancy to avoid turning patients away.
So asking for one number to fit every situation is asking the wrong question. We need a method – a method for calculating the right bed occupancy for each situation. A method that accounts for variation through the seasons, through the week, and through the day.
We have a method
It hasn’t been easy, but we think we’ve done it. In time we will build it into Gooroo Planner, but we want you to benefit from it now, so that you can base your plans for next winter on the right bed occupancy.
Here is our offer. If you are using Gooroo Planner already then we would like to work with you to: 1) run your data through our prototype software and determine the right bed occupancy for each pool of emergency beds in your hospital; 2) come on-site to present and explain our findings to your senior decision-makers; and 3) work with you to plan elective activity safely around next winter’s peak using Gooroo Planner.
We are hoping to get something out of this too, and that is experience. We want to understand which bits of the analysis are most useful, which options for managing bed occupancy better are the most appealing, and learn how to communicate our analysis in a way that everyone can understand.
That last point is going to be important because (spoiler alert) this analysis is going to tell most of you that last winter’s bed occupancy was far too high. You knew that already, but now we can prove it – compellingly and in detail.
Use it for your winter planning
Ideally we would like to try all this out with at least three different hospitals in the coming months, so we are offering all of this free of charge to the first three volunteers. After that, we would be happy to continue to offer the same but on a consultancy basis.
If you’d like to get started right away, then all you have to do is email me – I’ll need your most recent Gooroo Planner patient-level activity file for inpatients. And then we can take it from there.
And if you aren’t already using Gooroo Planner? Then get in touch anyway – you can get a fully-featured Gooroo Planner licence for as little as £4,000, and then we can work with you on bed occupancy too.Return to Post Index