Why demand and capacity matters

The mismatch between demand and capacity is one of the main reasons why waiting lists or backlogs develop and waiting times increase. To avoid this, an understanding of demand and capacity modelling is essential for the planning and delivery of healthcare services in a modern health and social care system. The following pages will help provide you with the support you need to do exactly that. ​

The benefits to patients ​

An understanding of demand and capacity can help you deliver quality care for patients: ​

  • To better understand how different providers and sectors within an integrated care system can best work together to deliver services for patients in an area challenges.
  • To ensure services provided in this area have enough core capacity to see patients within the referral time agreements.

Case for change animation

This animation explores why demand and capacity modelling is an important tool for many people involved in providing services to patients.

How staff can benefit​

Demand and capacity can also help you ensure your service is staffed effectively, leading to:​

  • Less pressure on staff and enhanced morale​
  • Increased staff satisfaction through improved quality of care​
  • Greater staff productivity and efficiency​
  • Enhanced recruitment and retention​

Service and system level modelling

There is a place, and a need for both service and system level modelling. It is important to understand demand and capacity within a service, or within pathways within services to have a view of the impact of care delivered to patients on a day-to-day basis as outlined above.

There is also a need to have a wider view and to model at a system level. Increasingly where pathways involve multiple providers, or where impact of changes to pathways or processes impact multiple organisations it becomes more important to have an overview at this level.

System modelling is a way of analysing and modelling complex interactions between organisations and processes at a more strategic level, such as an Integrated Care System and supports evidence-based decision making for healthcare system transformation.

​There are resources available to support both approaches:

  • Service (operational) level demand and capacity planning ​
  • System (integrated care system) level demand and capacity planning​