NECS Consultancy with NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care

Data and Innovation in Public Sector

The Capacity Tracker was developed by the North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) in April 2017, at the time with roughly 9,000 care homes (2 out of 3) already registered and actively using the system. It is a web-based digital insight tool built in partnership with NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) originally, later also with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE) the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Care England (CE), Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Local Government Association (LGA). It enables care home, in-patient community rehabilitation, substance misuse and hospice providers to easily and quickly share vacancy and other critical information in real time.

In February 2020, it was confirmed that Covid-19 had arrived in the UK. The Government identified that there was no single system to provide a real time picture of the pressures and support requirements within care homes, hospices and community rehabilitation providers. The Capacity Tracker team was approached by Government as the leading provider of a system that was already in place and an agreement to develop the existing Capacity Tracker system at pace was made.

Objectives agreed included:

  • Register all providers on the Capacity Tracker
  • Support providers to update the Capacity Tracker every 48 hours
  • Support all local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas to have at least one System Champion in place
  • Support key stakeholders using the Capacity Tracker nationally, regionally, locally, to provide interventions as required
  • Support local discharge teams to use the Capacity Tracker
  • Support the Capacity Tracker to be the one reliable and trustworthy data source

The Capacity Tracker provides innovative use in public data, it has leveraged existing data flows and provided multiple data feeds at pace to various government departments and agencies, is fast and secure, available 24/7 365 days per year and helps to protect hospital capacity through more efficient discharge.

The main outcome has been the adoption of the Capacity Tracker across all localities across England and collaborative working across the health and social care sector, with one common goal, using the Capacity Tracker platform that is the single source of truth.
Wider outcomes that the project has enabled include:

  • The targeting of PPE supplies and vaccinations across provider settings
  • Highlighting the availability of Covid-19 designated area beds to enable the discharge of Covid-19 patients from acute settings
  • To monitor the testing of patients to enable swift action to be taken to reduce the spread of infection
  • Highlighting providers with Covid-19 related outbreaks to enable focused support
  • The system has been endorsed by the Secretary of State, ADASS and the Minister of Health.

The development and adoption of the Capacity Tracker as a national tool has brought about new collaborative and joined up ways of working with all partners in health and social care, with the fundamental goal of patient and staff safety at its core, which has empowered localised and regional operational activities and informed the national directive throughout the pandemic.

View the NECS Consultancy profile in the MCA Members Directory.