Demand and capacity

The National Demand and Capacity Programme, jointly sponsored by NHS England and NHS Improvement, makes sure that demand and capacity principles, methodological approaches and data sets are understood and recognised by commissioners and providers.

It is designed to develop and deliver a national training programme that embeds this knowledge and expertise within local health economies to support future planning.

The objectives of the programme are:

  • To work with system leaders to make sure there is universal engagement and buy in to understand the necessity for this programme and the potential benefits to be realised for local health economies;
  • To develop and deliver a national training programme to embed knowledge and expertise within local health economies;
  • To make sure the principles, methodological approaches and datasets are understood and recognised by both commissioner and provider organisations, in order to produced shared health economy plans;
  • To develop a suite of national tools and models which are produced to an approved and accepted methodology to make sure there is a consistency of approach;
  • The programme will support and inform the production of robust activity plans at local organisational level and place-based unit level as required for future planning rounds.

The deliverables from the programme for 2016/17 are:

  • Support the delivery of the national plans for referral to treatment (RTT), A&E, cancer and diagnostics;
  • Host the current NHS Interim Management and Support (IMAS) tools suite centrally via web products, developed to have a more interactive functionality;
  • Core competencies identified and modular curricula developed for an education programme, utilising the principles of ‘train the trainer’;
  • Define and describe the underlying principles, methods and approaches to robust demand and capacity planning at a local level. This will be enhanced and support by the production of supporting materials, both physical and electronic, to facilitate local engagement;
  • Development of templates that provide the required level of detail to underpin robust local planning submissions;
  • Commence research and development of templates for mental health and community services;
  • National, regional and local support infrastructures defined, identified, resourced and initiated;
  • Develop mechanisms to enable sharing of non-mandated data items to support development of models and tools;
  • Provide infrastructure and support for the development of a community of practice and a stakeholder reference group;
  • Develop and make proposals for the evaluation of the overarching programme, both in terms of delivery and impact.

The programme will be overseen by a joint steering group of NHS England and NHS Improvement. Progress will be reported directly to the Executive Teams of both organisations.


We will be holding a series of one-day training sessions during 2016.

These training sessions will build upon the regional training sessions and the national training summit that were held earlier in the year. The purpose of the summit was to gather together senior strategic and operational thinkers to help to shape the development of the programme. The summit was attended by over 100 people and generated a set of incredibly useful inputs for the programme.

Demand and capacity models

NHS IMAS has produced national tools and models to an approved and accepted methodology. This makes sure of a consistency of approach across all health economies.

These models are useful because they are free to services and and they have been developed by people who have worked in the NHS. While the NHS does not have a prescriptive approach as to which models should be used, those wishing to use the models can access them and their user guides (where available) on the Elective Care Intensive Support Team pages on the NHS IMAS website.


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