Dozens of NHS “traffic control centres” are active across England in a move aimed at managing pressure on the service more effectively.
The 42 “winter war rooms” use data such as A&E throughput, wait times, staffing levels, ambulance response times, and bed occupancy.
That data allows staff to divert ambulances from full hospitals to ones with more space, where patients are more likely to be seen quickly.
The centers were announced in October as part of a broader plan.
They will operate seven days a week, fully staffed during the day, with on-call arrangements at night.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, the NHS’s national medical director, said: “These locally delivered control centers are just one part of our extensive winter readiness, but they will play a vital role in sharing and using vital information to drive a decision smarter decision making. by local NHS teams.
“From Maidstone to Lincoln, less than six weeks after we issued our national guidance, we have teams across England working around the clock to monitor and respond to information and insights from frontline services to help distribute resources and make the best possible decisions for both staff and patients
“With recent data coming home, significant pressure facing staff, with 10 times more flu cases in the hospital than we saw in the winter of last year and thousands of beds filled with medically fit patients for discharge, It has never been more important for the NHS to introduce these important and innovative planning measures ahead of what will probably be one of our most challenging winters yet.”
The average response time in September for the most urgent incidents (people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries) was nine minutes and 19 seconds, against a target of seven minutes.
Ambulances also took an average of 47 minutes and 59 seconds in September to respond to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy and stroke, well above the 18-minute target.
And things don’t get any easier once ambulance crews have reached the patient: accident and emergency departments are also under pressure, and ambulances often face long waits to get patients to hospital.
NHS England has announced a number of other plans in recent weeks for services aimed at easing pressure on hospitals.
An expansion of fall response services will mean more people will be able to be treated in their own homes, a move estimated to free up 55,000 ambulance trips each year.
Local “respiratory infection centers” will offer patients same-day care for COVID-19, influenza, acute bronchitis and pneumonia, again with the goal of minimizing the number of unnecessary trips to the hospital.
Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said the checkpoints could help ease pressure on urgent and emergency services, but added: “Urgent action is also needed to address labor shortages. , burnout and burnout of staff, and the inability to free up capacity by discharging medically fit patients in a safe and timely manner.”