Service level demand and capacity planning

This section of the website is aimed at colleagues providing healthcare services to patients. There are resources available to help start your demand and capacity journey, understand fundamental concepts and principles and tools to enable you to understand waiting lists, required capacity, or what resources are required to deliver your service.

There are further resources available to support with demand and capacity modelling.

What is your role and what are you looking for?

We know that many colleagues will be looking for an introduction to demand and capacity and how to get started with demand and capacity planning. You may want to assess whether there is enough resource (capacity) in your service to be able to provide their service to patients in a timely way, without excessive waiting times.

Within this section of the website our resources are designed for clinical and operational colleagues to use. The resources here are designed to support you on your journey.

Online training


There are several fundamental principles that underpin the understanding of demand and capacity.

The resources below give the background to this:

Ideal waiting list size

This short video helps you to understand how to calculate the ideal waiting list size for your service and how queues, or waiting lists build up.


This short video helps you to understand how to use percentiles to inform your level of resource required, or capacity within your service. If there is not enough capacity, then patients will generally wait longer to access your service.

Statistical Process Control (SPC)

This short video helps you to understand how to use SPC charts to visualise trends, and variation within your service and whether this appears to be normal variation, or not and to identify early signs of changes in behaviour within your service or pathway.

Other resources about SPC charts can be found on our website: Making data count.

Introductory online training course

If you would like to understand more about these principles there is an online training resource that is available to access on the e-learning for healthcare website.

This introductory training is available via the e-learning for healthcare website and covers all the basics of demand and capacity modelling, including the following learning objectives:

  • 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 demand of a service
  • Calculate the maximum waiting list sizes that are consistent with the clinical pathway milestones.

Community and mental health services training resource

Also available is a training resource developed to support demand and capacity planning in Community and Mental Health services.

This resource is based on four separate modules. These need to be completed in order but once completed, you can return to a module to review the content again.

The modules are:

  • Course introduction
  • The demand and capacity modelling process
  • Demand and capacity modelling implementation checkpoints
  • Course summary.

Throughout this course you will be encouraged to create, and add to, an online action plan. This action plan will be available to you at the end of the course to download and assist you in modelling your own specific pathway or service. There is an example, populated action plan in the resources section to help you complete your own.

Demand and capacity models and further resources

For access to demand and capacity models, please see our models section of this website.

For further resources, please see our further resources page.