NHS Covid-19 trend dashboard and ward capacity modelling

Using data to manage wards effectively during the pandemic


During the Covid-19 crisis our NHS client needed to rapidly adjust the capacity of wards between ‘hot’ (for patients suffering Covid-like symptoms) and ‘cold’ (for patients with a negative Covid test result), depending on the volume of patients arriving and being discharged.

Understanding the trend of bed capacity was critical to allow ward switching decisions to be made quickly. The Capacity Management team collected and collated data on the current situation, however trend visualisation was required.


We built a simple dashboard based on a sketched analysis carried out by the Trust’s Medical Director in Excel, using pivot tables and formulae.

The dashboard was built using the simplest technology possible to ensure the information could be:

  • Easily shared
  • Quickly refreshed
  • Consumed by all

Developed in an agile way, the dashboard started with a photo of a sketch, then a prototype, using remote ‘show and tell’ meetings (some on Zoom, some on email and phone).  By iterating quickly to get the initial release, we then built further levels of detail and different slices of analysis.

To start with we showed the full Trust picture and then we added the site by site analysis. The dashboard was updated daily and circulated to those involved with decision making.

Once the design of the initial dashboard stabilised, we added forward forecasting using the trend data plus the ability to model the impact of a ward switch, ‘hot’ to ‘cold’ or visa-versa.  This enabled the Trust to test out potential changes on the current and expected future capacity.


  • Drove decisions – the dashboard was used at the daily Covid-19 Silver Command (tactical) meetings to drive decisions on which wards were to be switched between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ wards


  • Detailed analysis – the forecasts and modelling were analysed by the management team responsible for recommending ward switching decisions


  • Supported recommendations – analysis was used to support the recommendations being put forward

If you would like to find out more about this work or think that we can help you, then please contact Tim Powlson or call us on 0845 222 0548.


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