By: 11 April 2013

High administrative overheads, patients frequently getting lost, and systematic under-utilisation of resources have been highlighted as the primary structural challenges facing the NHS today, according to an upcoming research report, Waiting and Queuing in the NHS from Qmatic.

The report is the result of interviews with 100 senior IT decision-makers and department heads within the NHS conducted by the independent market research agency Vanson Bourne between December 2012 and January 2013. It was commissioned by Qmatic to highlight the structural and systematic causes of delays and bottlenecks within the NHS. The report looks at three fundamental issues faced by the NHS:

  • Improving the patient’s journey between departments
  • Improving the management of patient queuing and waiting within departments
  • Making better use of patient journey information to improve the overall patient experience


Initial findings from the report include:


Navigational challenges

Fifty-nine percent of hospital staff claim that patients do not read signs (and 44 percent have received complaints from patients about getting lost), resulting in missed or delayed appointments, frustrated patients and additional strain on departmental reception desks.

In contrast to those patients getting lost, 38 percent of respondents said that patients often arrive very early for their appointments, clogging up the limited seating available. This is especially problematic during peak times when capacity is at a premium.


Under-utilisation of resources

The average percentage utilisation of NHS clinics is cited at 66 percent, meaning just over one-third of NHS clinics sit unused during the day.

More than three in five respondents (63 percent) believe they do not have adequate seating in all their departments throughout the day, giving another area to address.

David Anahory, UK CEO at Qmatic, explains: “Healthcare facilities are under enormous pressure to provide an improved quality of care to more and more patients, all the while coping with a limited set of resources. As the largest healthcare organisation in the world with an annual budget of over £100 billion, these challenges are amplified considerably at the NHS. The sheer scale and complexity of the NHS means that even the smallest of inefficiencies can be very costly indeed.

“We commissioned this research because we wanted to understand how structural issues within the NHS were causing bottlenecks and affecting the delivery of patient care. The results have proven to be enlightening, reinforcing existing views as well as offering new insights.”