Winter war rooms launch as health leaders prepare for busy festive period

As promised as part of the winter plan, the NHS has rolled out more than 40 ‘traffic control centres’ across England.

The data-driven centres have been dubbed as “war rooms” by health leaders and will harness the potential of data to better handle the influx of demand over the festive period.

The centres house teams of senior clinicians and will be able to monitor A&E performance and waiting times, staffing levels, ambulance response times and bed occupancy.

Because of this roll out, health professionals will be able to directly respond to emerging challenges in their region – whether that be diverting ambulances to hospitals with more capacity or identifying which health settings need more support, enabling leaders to then act accordingly.

The war rooms will also allow health professionals to plan ahead to prepare against particularly busy weekends, bank holidays, and other public events that incur increased pressure on healthcare services.

The new control centres are just a part of the NHS’s wider plans though, as they also look to insulate this winter with the introduction of national falls response teams, new serious respiratory infection hubs, and expanded bed capacity.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “These locally delivered control centres are just one part of our wide-ranging preparations for winter but will play a vital role in the sharing and use of vital information to drive 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 monitoring and responding to information and insights from frontline services to help spread resources and make the best possible decisions for both staff and patients.

“With recent data hitting home the significant pressure staff are facing – with 10 times more flu cases in hospital than we saw going into winter last year, and thousands of beds taken up by patients medically fit for discharge – it has never been more important for the NHS to introduce these important and innovative planning measures ahead of what is likely to be one of our most challenging winters yet.”

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