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Paper Works: the critical role of administration in quality care

Administration is a gatekeeper and enabler for quality care; when these processes go wrong, the effects go far beyond mere inconvenience.

Read our report
  • Paper Works
  • Communication and administration
  • Health inequalities

Especially for people with substantial needs who rely on the functionality of health and care services for quality of life, administration not only cuts to the heart of their healthcare experience, but to their wellbeing and life more broadly, as outlined in this video.

This report – produced as part of a research project that also involved The King’s Fund and Healthwatch England – examines the experiences of people who have found administrative problems in the NHS have reduced their ability to access quality care.

The report identifies administrative issues that fall broadly into the following categories:

  • Bureaucratic barriers
  • Disconnect between NHS services
  • Human and system error
  • Rigid rather than compassionate and responsive process
  • A lack of inclusive and effective communication.

Our research surfaces the impacts of administrative processes that are not functioning properly, which include:

  • Causing significant distress and exacerbating mental ill health
  • Straining relationships
  • Financial cost for patients and services
  • Eroding trust in health services
  • Undermining people’s dignity and privacy
  • Exacerbating physical health problems
  • Consuming people’s time.

The impact of poor administration is also highly likely to be unequal – people with confidence, good literacy or without specific accessibility requirements are more likely to be able to overcome barriers, develop coping strategies, know their rights, understand their options, and chase communications. By contrast, people who do not have those advantages are more likely to be detrimentally affected by administrative failures.

The report recommends that the NHS urgently looks to improve administration, tying in with its current priorities of tackling health inequity and helping a pressurised and at times exhausted workforce become more efficient in the face of rising unmet need.

We have identified some key goals to improve patient experience and thus, health outcomes, in the areas of improved care coordination; personalised patient communications; central involvement of experts by experience in the design and delivery of health services – including the relevant administrative processes; improved workforce understanding of the importance of good administration and compassionate communication.

You can view the long read on this subject by The King’s Fund here.

Healthwatch England likewise argue for increased focus on administration in the NHS – to read more, visit their website.

If you would like to read this report in an alternative format, please get in touch.

Read our report