• Daily regional critical care data not being shared nationally
  • Trust chief warns key indicator for covid-19 “not available to us”
  • NHSE has cancelled some monthly data collections

A “black hole” of vital critical care data, which is being collected by NHS England but not widely distributed, is hampering trusts’ ability to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak, chiefs have warned. 

Data on critical care occupancy and the number of patients with covid-19 in non-critical beds is being shared throughout NHS regions, but not on a national scale, HSJ has been told.

Senior NHS figures said it meant hospitals in areas where covid-19 cases were not quite as prevalent as in places such as London or Birmingham were unable to see the full situation facing hospitals in those hotspots.

One trust chief executive told HSJ: “The capacity [data] is just a black hole. What would be a really useful early warning indicator is not available to us. Not being able to see what’s happening in other parts of the country is a bit of a problem.”

NHSE, which normally holds this data centrally, has paused the collection and publication of monthly critical care bed capacity due to the covid-19 crisis.

However, HSJ understands data on critical care occupancy and non-critical beds taken by covid-19 patients is being collected on a daily basis by critical care networks, and NHSE/I can see this data for each of the networks.

Another chief executive added that sharing the data nationally “certainly would assist with escalation and expectation with regard to forecast(ing) pressure”.

NHSE has said it will stop collecting around a dozen data sets between 1 April and 30 June, including the numbers of cancelled urgent or elective operations, delayed transfers of care and mixed sex accommodation.

NHSE was approached for comment but had not responded at time of publication.