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Helping the NHS get into SHAPE

  • SHAPE can help to compile reports of the population demographics within a 10-minute driving distance and a 15-minute walking distance of each NHS dental practice in County Durham and Darlington.

    Martin Ramsdale, Senior House Officer in Dental, Public Health

NHS® staff across the country are being urged to get into SHAPE – a web-enabled, evidence-based application that is built around accurate geographic information and can radically improve the planning and redesign of health services.

The challenge

The NHS landscape is changing. Care is shifting from hospitals to local community-based settings. There is a greater emphasis on health improvement and prevention, and from next April, there will be more joint planning between health and social care organisations as the responsibility for public health moves to local authorities. The need for evidence-based, well-informed and up-to-date information to support health service planning has never been greater.

The solution

To help meet this challenging agenda, health professionals are turning to SHAPE, a tool that informs and supports the strategic planning of services and facilities across a whole health economy. Originally developed by the Department of Health for estates professionals six years ago, it is now managed by NHS North East and provides vital information to assist a range of NHS staff, from GPs and clinical directors to property and capital planning teams, in their decision-making.

SHAPE’s value lies in its ability to link national data on clinical analysis, public health, primary care and demographic information with data on the performance and location of health care facilities. The application is built around Ordnance Survey data and supports travel time analysis between locations.

The estates module within the application contains a database of over 86 000 geocoded facilities, including large acute hospital trusts, health centres, GP and dental practices and ambulance stations. At a touch of a button, SHAPE users can pinpoint, for example, the location of a GP surgery or other health facility. They can then map the site against local population needs and calculate its accessibility to patients.

SHAPE is currently being used by NHS London to inform an extensive review of the way health care is provided in the capital. It was recently used by the North of England Cardiovascular Network to analyse stroke and heart failure readmissions, and by South West Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) to assess the distance between primary care services and planned new housing developments in the area.

Under the new Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PMSA), which allows all public sector organisations free use of Ordnance Survey geographic data and digital mapping products, SHAPE can now make its data available to the new local commissioning groups and local authority health and wellbeing boards, encouraging more joint analysis and planning of services.

The benefits

  • Delivery of improved health care services for patients.
  • More efficient, effective and accurate planning of services.
  • Supports decisions relating to the integration of health and social care services.
  • Improved partnership working between professional groups and organisations.
  • Flexible to use and suitable for a range of roles and responsibilities.
  • Visual presentation can contribute effectively to public consultation.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 802kB


Related case studies

Healthcare organisations like NHS Kent and Medway are improving the planning and redesign of their services via a web-enabled evidence-based application built around accurate geographic information.

Located in the north-east corner of Scotland, NHS Grampian serves a mixed urban and rural population of 526,000 people. It provides pharmaceutical services across a wide geographic area, whilst addressing the needs of a population living in remote, rural areas as well as urban areas.

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