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 carrying out a project to explore patients’ experiences of NHS administrative processes and staff. Through our research we will explore:

  • the impact of poor NHS administration on patients
  • why poor administration happens
  • opportunities for making improvements to NHS administration in future.

The first stage of our work has 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.

The next stages of our project will involve engaging with patients and NHS staff to address the questions above. It is likely that we will focus our work on a small number of service areas.

Key milestones

The findings from our project will be published in the first half of 2020.

Project leads


Lillie Wenzel

Fellow, Policy


Deborah Ward

Senior Analyst, Policy


Leo Ewbank

Researcher, Policy

Cecelia Price

Management Training Scheme Management Trainee


Dan Wellings

Senior Fellow, Policy