Skill and dedication of NHS staff praised as health service productivity outstrips the rest of the economy

Hardworking NHS staff boosted productivity by 3% in a single year, dramatically outstripping productivity growth in the rest of the economy new figures have revealed today.

Data released today by the Office for National Statistics shows that NHS productivity for the financial year ending 2017 grew by 3% in England, more than treble the 0.8% 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% in 2016.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens 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.”

Action taken 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 saving up to £200 million a year
  • Stopping the routine commissioning of 17 procedures where less invasive, safer treatments are available and just as effective, saving an estimated £200 million a year

The NHS long term plan will deliver annual efficiency savings equivalent to around £1 billion in extra investment each year.

Administration costs, which are currently 2p in the pound in England compare to 5p in Germany and 6p in France, and will be further cut by a further £700 million a year.

The efficiency gains will free up resources to deliver cutting edge technology such as CART cancer therapy and genomic testing for every child with cancer as part of the NHS’s mission to save approach an extra 500,000 lives over the next 10 years.

Rising productivity for healthcare and education services accounted for the largest upward contributions to total public service productivity growth between 2015 and 2016.

UK wide health productivity grew by 2.5% in 2016 compared to the rest of the UK public sector which grew at 1.4%.

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.”