Patients’ experiences of NHS administration

This content relates to the following topics:

Why we’re doing this project

Almost everyone has experience of interacting with NHS administrative processes and staff. This includes activities such as booking appointments, registering with a GP surgery and corresponding with NHS services in writing or over the phone. These processes are key in supporting the NHS to deliver care to millions of patients each week.

Although these processes can work well, we know from our own experiences and from talking to family and friends that patients’ experience of NHS administration is often poor, despite the best efforts of staff. This can have a negative impact on people’s overall experience of using a service, and often comes at a time when they are already feeling anxious. Sometimes, for example in the case of lost test results, poor administration can have an effect on the care people receive.

Despite this, there has been very little research into NHS administration and its impact on patients, and these issues are not routinely captured in NHS data.

What we’re doing

The King’s Fund is working in collaboration with Healthwatch, the independent champion for people who use health and social care services, and National Voices, the coalition of health and care charities, on a project exploring people’s experiences of NHS administrative processes and staff. Through our research we will explore:

  • the impact of poor NHS administration on patients, service users and carers
  • why poor administration happens
  • opportunities for making improvements to NHS administration in future.

The first stage of our work involved a review of the available literature and data relating to NHS administration. We also analysed a sample of comments posted on the Care Opinion website, the findings from which are set out in this blog.

We are now in the process of engaging with patients and service users and with NHS staff to explore the issues above. Specifically:

  • Local Healthwatch are carrying out engagement work with patients and the public in five areas. This will involve a mix of patients, ranging from those who use NHS services only occasionally to those who have regular contact with multiple services.
  • National Voices is carrying out interviews and workshops with their member charities and patients, with a particular focus on those with long-term conditions who use multiple services and people affected by inequalities.
  • The King’s Fund is carrying out interviews with NHS staff, covering a mix of services and staff roles.

The King’s Fund will draw together the findings from these three strands of work into a final report.

Key milestones

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, work on this project has been temporarily suspended. We will provide further information on when the final report will be published in due course.

Contact

For further information about the project please contact Lillie Wenzel at l.wenzel@kingsfund.org.uk or Leo Ewbank at l.ewbank@kingsfund.org.uk.

Project leads

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Lillie Wenzel

Fellow, Policy

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Deborah Ward

Senior Analyst, Policy

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Leo Ewbank

Researcher, Policy

Cecilia Price

NHS graduate management trainee

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Dan Wellings

Senior Fellow, Policy