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NHS output rises, but productivity falls


1 February, 2008  

Recent figures published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that NHS output has increased, but productivity has fallen.

NHS output rose by 3.8% a year from 1995 to 2006, according to the estimates. By 2006, output was some 50% higher than in 1995, before allowing for changes in quality.

However, inputs grew faster still, resulting in a fall in productivity of 1.0% a year.

An ONS article, Public Service Productivity: Health Care, sets out changes in health care inputs, output and productivity from 1995 to 2006, using indices which combine a wide range of types of health care and resources used.

Measures of change in the quality of healthcare are included in output where available, from 2001 to 2005.
 
Three time periods can be distinguished: 
 
 • From 1995 to 2001, productivity was stable, with growth in the quantity of health care (with no quality adjustments) matching growth in inputs.
 
• From 2001 to 2005, productivity fell, as high growth in health care was lower than even higher growth in inputs. Even with the available adjustments for quality change in output, productivity fell by 2.0% a year, on average, between 2001 and 2005. Without quality adjustment for output, productivity over the same period would have fallen by 2.5% a year on average;
 
• From 2005 to 2006, productivity fell less quickly, by 0.2%. Quality adjustments are not yet available.
 
Office for National Statistics