Productivity, Technology and the NHS

Productivity, Technology and the NHS, looks at the NHS in England approach to productivity improvement half-way through the implementation of NHS Engand’s ‘Five Year Forward View | Newchurch

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A core component of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View (5YFV), which underpinned the subsequent financial settlement agreed with the Government, was that NHS  productivity would improve by 2.4% a year for each of the five years up to 2020/21. The 5YFV went further suggesting that its implementation could even result in sustained improvements of 3% a year in the longer term, a proposition which must have assumed sustained improvement in workforce productivity, given that staff costs make up some 70% of NHS expenditure. This proposition always looked ambitious and subsequent analyses of the NHS’s long-term productivity performance have served to underline the size of the challenge. However the Carter Review, published 12 months ago, underlined the scale of the potential improvements that could be made in the NHS’s dominant acute sector.

A key contributor to achieving the rate of productivity improvement underpinning the 5FYV, reinforced by Carter’s conclusions, was the adoption of new digital technologies. This faith in the impact of digital technology is despite the evidence of the last 20 years that would cast considerable doubt as to the productivity impact of the digital technologies programmes that the NHS in England and its predecessors have implemented.

An analysis of current performance and future plans at the national, Sustainability and Transformation Plan and trust level suggests that the NHS as a system gives little priority to productivity improvement. Furthermore current plans for the development and implementation of digital technologies are unlikely to have any significant impact on productivity, certainly within the lifetime of the 5YFV.

Read the full overview here

Read the full report here

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