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Decline in NHS productivity over past decade is branded “a myth”

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e1110 (Published 14 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1110
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Official claims that NHS productivity has declined over the past 10 years have been disputed by a leading expert in health policy, who argues that this is a myth and that productivity has probably gone up.

Claims by politicians that NHS productivity is in decline, which are being used by the Conservatives to justify a need for their controversial health reforms, have been based mainly on an analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that overall NHS productivity has fallen by 0.4% a year since 2000 (http://bit.ly/xNn6B7). A National Audit Office report published in 2010 concluded from these figures that this meant that hospital productivity had fallen by around 1.4% a year (BMJ 2010;341:c7287, doi:10.1136/bmj.c7287).

But Nick Black, from the department of public health and policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, writing in the Lancet this week (doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61782-0), argues that “rather than declining, …

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