A dashboard update lets NHS managers in Wales see how many ambulances are waiting at the country’s A&E departments in near real time.

The NHS Wales Informatics Service has added information coming in from A&E systems to the integrated unscheduled care dashboard already in use at Welsh health boards.

Dr Grant Robinson, unscheduled care improvement lead at NWIS, said the added functionality of the dashboard makes it easier for NHS managers to deal with winter pressures.

"The dashboard was great for performance data previously, but it now allows staff to see the activity of what is happening in the health service in the here and now. At the same time, they can see data from all organisations, including primary care, which previously wasn't available in one view,” he said.

NHS Wales has come under close scrutiny recently. It was criticised by English health secretary Jeremy Hunt in a Commons debate last month for its failure to reach A&E waiting time targets and the high mortality rates in the country.

The dashboard is intended to help alleviate some of the pressure on staff. It refreshes every ten minutes and also shows data indicating where there may be bottlenecks, from admission through to discharge.

The data is fed directly into the dashboard from several systems such as the Welsh Ambulance Trust’s s call handling system. Alerts or warnings will automatically flash up on the dashboard’s home page when a major incident occurs.

The dashboard is a result of a partnership between local health organisation and government in Wales, including the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and public health departments.

NWIS plans to link the dashboard to the patient administration systems in use at Welsh health boards in order to automate bed, admission and discharge data.