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Local nurse turns brainchild into innovative national resource for NHS

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4 December 2017

After a 36 year nursing career with Southern Health, most recently leading its perinatal mental health team, local nurse Jenny Walsh has used her extensive experience to create an innovative online bed management tool for England’s NHS.

WebBeds is a website designed for NHS professionals to find a Mother and Baby Unit bed anywhere in England. It tells healthcare staff, at a glance, whether there is a bed available in a specialist mental health unit that day and the likelihood of a bed becoming available over the next couple of days.

The resource has been launched this month and is the culmination of a year’s work whilst Jenny was seconded to NHS Wessex Clinical Networks (which works with NHS organisations to provide clinical expertise).

Jenny, who still works for Southern Health one day a week whilst fulfilling her secondment role as Wessex Clinical Lead for Perinatal Mental Health, explained: “This project was all about linking the country’s mother and baby units together to provide quick and easy access to useful information.

“It was one Friday afternoon, when our Winchester mother and baby unit was full and I had to field a number of calls from commissioners looking for patient beds, that I had the idea of creating a national resource to avoid so much time being wasted, ringing around different units across the country. Such a simple idea I suppose but one that, after much hard work in setting it up, is already proving to be popular.”

The main page of www.nhswebbeds.co.uk displays a map of all mother and baby units in the country. Each unit is marked by a locator pin and the number shown in the pin identifies the unit’s current bed availability (with the colour of the pin indicating future availability). Contact details for each unit are also on display as well as the geographical distances between units.

Jenny added: “The most important feature of WebBeds is its simplicity – it’s designed to be quick for NHS units to update on a daily basis and easy to access for those looking for a bed. I’m hopeful that it will quickly become an essential resource to make it easier to access specialist perinatal mental health services when and where a mother needs them.”

The tool, which is likely to expand to include a common referral form, has potential for other NHS inpatient services - such as learning disabilities, children’s mental health and adult psychiatric intensive care units - to replicate and roll out in the future.