About the Demand and Capacity programme

Welcome to the webpages of the National Demand and Capacity Programme. We are a national programme supporting the development of demand and capacity modelling across the NHS. The programme was established in 2016 to support the NHS to better understand demand and plan sufficient capacity, so that patients do not wait unnecessarily for treatment. We provide the NHS with industry standard demand and capacity models and training to achieve this aim.

The programme is jointly sponsored by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

What are our goals?

  • To work with system leaders and support them in the development of local capacity, capability and confidence in demand and capacity modelling and reduce reliance upon external or central expert resources.
  • 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.
  • Support and inform the production of robust activity plans at local organisational level and place-based unit level as required for future planning rounds.

Want to find out more about the demand and capacity programme? Sign up to the Demand and Capacity Bulletin.

Why is Demand and Capacity planning important?

This video tells Elaine’s story of trying to deal with hip pain on a daily basis whilst she is on a waiting list for hip surgery. It shows why Demand and Capacity planning is so important.

The mismatch between capacity and demand is one of the main reasons why waiting lists or backlogs develop and waiting lists and waiting times increase. The understanding of the outputs of robust demand and capacity modelling are a fundamental requirement for the planning and delivery of healthcare services in a modern health and social care system.

A shared understanding between providers and commissioners on demand, capacity, bottlenecks and constraints can help to:

  • Understand the reasons why waiting lists grow
  • Model the required level of capacity to keep pace with demand
  • Understand the gap between the required capacity and the current capacity of a service
  • Calculate the maximum waiting list sizes that are consistent with the clinical pathway milestones
  • Model the impact of clearing excess waiting list sizes down to ideal maximum levels
  • Identify any potential inefficiencies
  • Support better decision making around service changes
  • Reduce waiting times for patients

This video looks at why demand and capacity planning is important across the health system:

Our outreach

Since 2016, we have been supporting organisations embed demand and capacity modelling, developing capability and capacity across all stages of demand and capacity planning. Through our introductory training, delivered live and online, and our Demand and Capacity Trainer Programme, our outreach is significant. We have trained all levels of the system in the principles of demand and capacity planning, and provided technical training on our models.

55.4% of mental health providers have applied to our Demand and Capacity Trainer Programme.
72% of acute providers have applied to our Demand and Capacity Trainer Programme.
75% of community providers have applied to our Demand and Capacity Trainer Programme.
87% of providers have been on our introductory training.

Did you know? There are trained demand and capacity graduates able to provide teaching and support in each STP. To work with a graduate, please email the team.

Contact us

We are always keen to hear from people with an interest in our work or who want to share good practice, ideas, resources and other material relating to demand and capacity modelling.

If you would like to find out more about what we do or have something to share, please email us at england.demandandcapacityproject@nhs.net