NHS productivity boosted and exceeds national growth

New data has shown that NHS staff boosted productivity by three per cent in a single year, dramatically outstripping productivity growth in the rest of the economy.

The Office for National Statistics figures show that NHS productivity for the financial year ending 2017 grew by three per cent in England, which is more than treble the 0.8 per cent achieved across wider the UK economy in 2016/17.

Health service productivity in England also outpaced that achieved in health services elsewhere in the UK, with a combined UK health service figure of 2.5 per cent in 2016. UK wide health productivity grew by 2.5 per cent in 2016 compared to the rest of the UK public sector which grew at 1.4 per cent.

NHS England identifies a number of factors for improved efficiency, including the introduction of a cost-per-hour cap on agency staff, introduced in November 2015, curbing prescribing of medicines that have little or no benefit, saving up to £200 million a year, and ending he routine commissioning of 17 procedures where less invasive, safer treatments are available and just as effective, saving an estimated £200 million a year.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “These figures are a testimony to the dedication and skill of NHS staff whose efforts, along with new, more efficient ways of working, has led once again to the NHS outperforming the rest of the economy. They provide reassurance that NHS funding is and will continue to be used to maximum effect. Although the NHS is already demonstrably one of the most efficient health services in the world, our new NHS Long Term Plan will continue to bear down on waste and ensure that every penny is well spent.”

Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: “The NHS continues to be one of the most productive healthcare systems in the world because of dedicated staff and leaders who identify opportunities to reduce variation in the way care is delivered to patients. But there is scope to do more to address the unwarranted variation that still exists. The Long Term Plan and the additional investment that underpins its first five years is our opportunity to build on the NHS’s achievements. Reducing this variation will lead to better care for patients, it will free-up resource for new services, and it will make the NHS fit for the future.”

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