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To solve an increasingly complex healthcare issue, Wessex NHS needed a reliable partner capable of delivering not just a finished product, but also a structured and scalable solution to hospital overcrowding.

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Having never attempted to solve the problem before, the brief from Wessex was as simple as it was challenging;
“We have a shortage of beds in our mother and baby units. We need to quickly know where there are available beds in the UK, without having to phone every single unit, so we can relocate mothers and babies as quickly as possible.”

With no comparable system in place and a client willing to delegate full responsibility, Secret Source developers were free to explore all available options, with only one condition; that our solution should be intuitive and easy for managers to work with as the users will not be regular IT users.

NHS web beds - mobile version


With the help of Wessex NHS, our CTO and a senior developer began by interviewing key stakeholders and staff, to build up a clear picture of what they needed and their technical ability.

Once this research was complete the next step was to build an MVP (minimum viable product) delivering the functionality required in a way that was easy for staff to use.

Using Laravel and breaking the work down into 2 week sprints, backed up by regular meetings with management, we created the first prototype of an app containing just core features. We then passed it over to a small group of testers, located within Mother & Baby units in Hampshire, to evaluate performance and generate feedback.

Analysing the information collected in this phase we improved the user experience, expanded essential features and added the functionality which allowed neighbouring health authorities to share access and data.


During its beta phase, while only available in 17 Mother & Baby units across the Wessex healthcare region, the NHSBeds app made a noticeable difference with 100% uptake and continual usage over the six month trial period. Enquiry times were reduced from 30 minutes+ / day to less than 1 minute and bed occupancy increased significantly.

After its initial success the WebBeds app has now been extended to all MBUs nationwide, with plans for a full rollout across all NHS departments in the UK.

At the end of 2018 our work received the highest of accolades when it was highly commended at the prestigious NHS digital awards in the category “Improving Care with Technology”.


Jenny Walsh - Wessex Clinical Lead for Perinatal Mental Health - NHS

Secret Source built two applications for us. They helped at every stage from concept to launch. Everyone involved was fantastic. I can’t recommend them enough.