Nation loses 1.3 billion hours in the queue

Article date: 27 October 2003

Brits spend a total of 1.3 billion hours a year queuing,according to new research released today.

The study reveals that people in the UK spend 33 minutes onaverage standing in a queue each week – which works out atmore than a day a year per person.

And queuing for the loo has been voted the most stressful wait,by four in 10 of those polled, followed by waiting for a medicalappointment, at over a third of those questioned.

The five most stressful queues, according to adults in the UK,include waiting:

  1. To use the loo
  2. For a Doctor’s appointment
  3. To board a plane
  4. At the cashier’s till in a supermarket
  5. At the bank

The research, which also reveals that three in five Britishadults think we’re a nation obsessed with queuing, wascommissioned by Norwich Union Healthcare as part of the promotionof their Waiting List Guide. This comprehensive information sourceallows people – for the first time ever – to find outinformation on total waiting times*, both the wait to see aconsultant and the wait for the operation on the NHS, for 40 of themost common medical procedures.

The guide, which is part of Norwich Union Healthcare’sonline Personal Health Manager, allows its users to search waitinglist data either by procedure, specialty (eg Plastic surgery orCardiology), specific NHS Trusts, or Trusts within selectedpostcode areas.

Heather Smith, head of marketing at NorwichUnion Healthcare, said: "The Waiting List Guide aims to help reducewaiting times by empowering the patient to make informed choicesabout the treatment they receive, in discussion with their GP."

"As a nation, we do seem to spend a vast amountof time unavoidably waiting around and this research supports theidea that queuing is something of a national pastime in the UK.

"The idea that people could actively help reducetheir waiting time for consultant appointments and treatment, byhaving the tools they need to make informed decisions is bound tobe welcomed by those who find waiting for Doctor’sappointment a stressful experience."

Norwich Union Healthcare’s "Waiting Game"survey also found:

  • A third of people admit to queue jumping and one in five saythey’d push in if someone else had already done it ahead ofthem
  • The Welsh are most likely to take the initiative and jump tothe front of the queue (at 40% of those questioned), followed byLondoners at 35%
  • 36% of men say they’ve pushed in, compared to 26% ofwomen – and women generally find queuing more stressful thanmen
  • At four in ten of those questioned, Londoners are the mostlikely people in the country to think queuing is a waste oftime
  • And more than a third of Brits don’t agree with the oldmaxim, good things come to those who wait

Personal Health Manager offers round-the-clockhelp, advice and information for Norwich Union Healthcare customersand their families. It also provides access to a 24 hour GPHelpline. The service is available to Individual and Group PrivateMedical Insurance customers of Norwich Union Healthcare, whoregister on the site, as part of the policy benefits available tothem.

And Norwich Union Healthcare has set up a 30 day free trial** ofPersonal Health Manager – including the Waiting List Guide.Simply visit, click on "First TimeUser" and follow the on screen instructions.


Media contacts:
Jo Misson/CharlotteRuddlesdin at QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 7861 2424 (out of hourstelephone number: 07887 777 731) or Lorna Wiltshire at NorwichUnion Press Office on 01904 723236 or 07788 471849

Notes to Editors:

*Dr Foster has collected data from Hospital Episode Statisticsand the Department of Health (DOH) to compile average waiting timesin days for a range of specific procedures or specialties at themajority of NHS Trusts in England and Scotland. Only plannedadmissions are included in the research.

The waiting list data indicates the average wait (the median indays). The median point is the 50th percentile point or the pointat which 50% of waits are shorter and 50% longer.

The average total waiting times include the wait to see aconsultant as well as the wait thereafter for treatment. Theaverage days waited for a first appointment with a consultant isestimated from published DOH figures. A patient’s clinicalneed may impact upon the waiting time.

**The 24-hour GP Helpline is not available as part of the trial.Personal Health Manager is strictly available for use in and byresidents of the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands only.

The Waiting List Guide on Norwich Union Healthcare’sPersonal Health Manager was compiled by Dr Foster, an organisationthat provides information and analysis to the professionalhealthcare community, at its Unit in the Imperial College ofScience, Technology and Medicine.

Norwich Union Healthcare commissioned TNS Global to carry outresearch among 1002 adults aged over 16, between 3 and 5 October2003.

  • Norwich Union Healthcare was founded in 1990 as the healthcarearm of Norwich Union and now provides a range of income protectionand private medical insurance products to around 750,000customers. It is one of the largest providers of income protectionand private medical insurance in the UK.
  • Norwich Union Healthcare is a member if the General InsuranceStandards Council, the Association of British Insurers and theFinancial Ombudsman Service.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. It is aleading provider of life, pensions and investment products and oneof the leading IFA providers. IFAs provide around 70% of thecompany’s long-term savings business.
  • Norwich Union has strategic alliances with building societiesand other leading UK brand names including Tesco Personal Financeand The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva's internet press centre

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