Emergency departments could share live information about how busy they are so patients can be sent to the right place.

The idea has come from one of NHS Connecting for Health’s pilots of clinical dashboards.

The dashboards, displayed on screens, show real time data such as waiting times and care quality so clinicians can improve their performance and see when patients are waiting longer.

They have been trialled in London at Homerton University Hospital foundation trust’s accident and emergency department.

Emergency medicine consultant Simon Eccles, Connecting for Health medical director, said they helped clinicians identify high demand earlier. They could then prepare and ask for ambulances to be sent elsewhere.

Many areas, particularly London and the North West, struggled to meet emergency waiting time targets during last winter’s rise in demand.

Shared real time information from all emergency and urgent services in an area could be used to manage pressure at each site, with potential to automate the process, Dr Eccles said.

He said: “We spend a lot of time trying to find out how many beds other hospitals have got. We should automate that process.”

Of 30 dashboard pilots beginning this year, several are aimed at better integrating services, Connecting for Health said.