How do professionals spend their time?

We would like to ask health and social care professionals in England to provide details of how much time they spend with patients/clients and on other activities related to their care. This research will lead to improved information for economic analyses and for planning services. It should also create a greater awareness of how much additional time is needed for important activities related to patient/client care such as writing-up case notes, travelling and liaising with other professionals.

The questionnaire attached should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and is anonymous and confidential. For more information on how this information is to be used, please read on, or if you wish to see further details of the research, see If you would simply like to complete the questionnaire, please go straight to question one.

The research

Each year the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the University of Kent produces a publication, Unit Costs of Health and Social Care (see link above) which is now in its 20th year. It is sponsored by the Department of Health and Department for Education and an indication of its influence is that it is currently being downloaded around 800 times a month. It has also been cited in 68% of all economic evaluations which have taken place in England since 2008.

The main part of this publication shows the costs of employing different professionals. These costs often feed into work undertaken by, for example, government departments and can help policy makers fully think through the impact of government intervention. They are also used by health and social care authorities when making decisions about the best way to deliver a service. There are many more uses for the information which are discussed in the 2012 edition (link above).

Currently, we publish the cost per working hour for all professionals. This is calculated by dividing the total cost of the professional (including salary costs and overheads) by the number of hours worked. For most health and social care services however, the important elements of activity relate to time spent supporting patients or clients. This includes not only the time spent with patients/clients, but also the amount of preparation time writing-up notes, etc. Unfortunately there are few studies on use of time, especially in the health care sector, yet such information is crucial to calculating accurate costs.

If you have any concerns about this questionnaire or would like more information or help completing it, please contact Lesley Curtis ( or 01227 827193). The questionnaire can also be returned to the above e-mail address or by post (PSSRU, Cornwallis Building, George Allen Wing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF).