A digital portal that allows staff to find vacancies in local care homes is to be rolled out across England in a bid to end lengthy delays.

Care homes, councils and hospital staff will have access to Capacity Tracker as part of the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to reduce the length of hospital stays for patients who need a care home.

It was successfully piloted in the North, Devon and Berkshire last year.

The tool can be used on any device and takes care home staff just 30 seconds to upload details of available beds.

Health and social care staff can then easily access information on available beds for patients, including dementia patients and those with learning disabilities.

More than 6,250 care homes have already signed up to the system.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England said: “One of the central ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan is to better support people to age well, and that means joining up different services locally to better meet people’s needs.

“By using this technology to work together more closely, hospitals, local authorities and care homes can ensure that people get the right care in the right place at the right time, and aren’t left waiting in hospital unnecessarily.”

Across the NHS, 14 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) are seeing the NHS and local government work closely to join up care and support across general practices, community services, hospitals, councils, voluntary and community organisations and charities.

As well as offering improved care for patients and care home residents, the new initiative links health and social care professionals more closely and reduces wasted time and resources.

Jo Chilton, programme director of the Adult Social Care Transformation Programme at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, which has been using the Capacity Tracker since 2017, added: “We are pleased with the uptake it has had with care homes and health and social care teams across our localities now having quicker and better access to vacancy information.

“We have been impressed with the speed at which the Capacity Tracker support team have been able to on-board care homes over a very short space of time.”

The North of England Commissioning Support Unit, funded by NHS England, developed the tracker, and led the pilot.

Care homes, local authority, CCG and hospital staff were involved in creating the system, and care home champions are being regularly encouraged to give feedback to improve and spread its use.