This paper reports on research carried out during the summer of 2000, within a National Health hospital in the West Midlands region of England. It looks specifically at the queuing problems in the busiest clinic of the hospital, and involves the observation and questioning of 280 patients. The research considers Maister’s proposition, that satisfaction equals perception minus expectation. The results of the interviews and observations produced some unexpected outcomes, as well as confirming similar research in other areas of the service sector. The research continues by investigating the options available to the hospital’s management for managing the patient’s perception of their wait, and suggests operational ways of improving the actual waiting process.
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