Approximately 1.3 million people are employed in hospitals in the United Kingdom working as nurses, doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, physiotherapists, cleaners and administration staff. Individuals receiving treatment in hospitals are categorized as inpatients who require an overnight stay, or outpatients who are attending for a day procedure or consultation. According to a survey conducted at the beginning of 2017, individuals stated they have to wait a long time before being seen by a doctor. Patients experienced the longest delays in Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in England where a patient was on the waiting list for 449 days before being seen.
Hospitals are generally composed of different departments and wards including maternity, surgery, intensive care, oncology and accident and emergency. Emergency departments are constantly under scrutiny to deliver efficient and effective care within a set timeframe. The aim is for patients to be seen by a medical professional and discharged or referred to another department within four hours. In 2015/16, 21 million patients were seen in less than four hours, while 1.8 million patients had to wait four hours or more. In 2016, the core services of NHS acute hospitals were rated, with services for children and young people and intensive/critical care receiving a ‘good’ rating for service. Medical services (including older people’s care) and urgent and emergency services were rated as ‘required improvement’.