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NHS productivity sees ‘slight rise’

5 April 2011

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Productivity in the NHS has increased slightly following a 10-year slump, figures show.

Between 1995 and 2009, productivity fell by 2.7% – on average 0.2% each year.

But figures from the Office for National Statistic show that in 2009 there was a slight increase of 0.7%.

The figures reflected an increase in the amount of drugs being prescribed by GPs since 1995 and a jump of more than 50% in the amount of NHS work in hospitals and the community.

Several factors such as a rise in hospital admissions and treatment due to increased alcohol consumption are known to have increased NHS output.

Obesity is also having an impact, with associated illnesses requiring treatment including heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes.

However, the drop in the number of people smoking may also be leading to less need for treatment, according to previously published research contained within the study.

Productivity is measured according to inputs, such as labour and goods, and outputs, such as hospital procedures.

Senior analyst Richard Wild said: “We found that two-thirds of the rise in inputs took the form of the NHS using more goods and services – things like bedding and bandages, drugs, contracted-out services, and utilities – and one-third of the rise supported the NHS employing more staff, including substantially more doctors and nurses.

“Output went up for a number of reasons. The largest part of the increase was because of the rise in the number of procedures performed, but two other factors also played a role: the volume of drugs prescribed by GPs tripled, and the quality of healthcare improved.”

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Office for National Statistics

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