NHS staff praised as productivity grows

Study by health experts shows that NHS productivity of the NHS has improved

A study by health experts has shown that the productivity of the NHS has improved almost two and a half times faster than the wider economy over the last 12 years.

According to the University of York’s Centre for Health Economics, hard-working NHS staff provided 16.5% more care pound for pound in 2016/17 than they did in 2004/05, compared to productivity growth of only 6.7% in the economy as a whole.

The study, ‘Productivity of the English National Health Service: 2016/17 Update’, revealed NHS outputs have continuously increased since they began measuring 12 years earlier.

Some 5.2 million more patients received planned or emergency hospital treatments in 2016/17 than in 2004/05 – an increase of about 42%.

Separately, outpatient activity has shot up by 131% since 2004/05, with over 60 million more attendances in 2016/17 compared to 2007/08.

The new research reinforces figures published by the Office for National Statistics in January, which showed that NHS productivity in England in 2016/17 grew by 3% from the previous year, more than treble the 0.8% achieved by the whole economy.

Last year the NHS delivered over £6 billion of quality and cost improvements. Action taken in recent years to improve efficiency by NHS England and NHS Improvement includes:

  • The introduction of a cost-per-hour cap on agency staff from November 2015
  • Curbing prescribing of medicines that have little or no benefit that will over time help save up to £200 million a year
  • Stopping the routine commissioning of 17 procedures where less invasive, safer treatments are available and just as effective, over time saving up to an estimated £200 million a year.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “This independent research confirms that NHS productivity has been growing at more than double that achieved by the rest of the UK economy including the private sector.

“This is a huge tribute to the work of NHS staff, and the intrinsic efficiency of this country’s health service. It represents further welcome proof that taxpayers’ investment in our health services is money well spent.”