NHS productivity falls by 2 per cent a year

Productivity in the NHS has fallen by an average of 2 per cent a year since the government began to increase health spending, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But there are signs that the fall has slowed, with productivity dropping only 0.2 per cent between 2005 and 2006.

The figures show that outputs, calculated from the number and quality of treatments offered, rose by 50 percent between 1995 and 2006. But over the same period inputs increased 67 percent thanks to bigger staff numbers, wages and costs.

NHS chief executive David Nicholson questioned the assumptions on which the figures were based, noting that: ‘The ONS measure of productivity would count longer appointment times with GPs as a fall in productivity rather than an improvement in quality.'

The ONS describes the figures as ‘approximations' and admits that, if different assumptions were used, the fall in productivity may be as low as 1.5 per cent a year.

‘But none of these uncertainties are sufficiently great to alter the conclusion that productivity has fallen, particularly in the period 2001 to 2005,' it added.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

Office for National Statistics

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