Feature Data Briefing

How productive are NHS consultants?

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1520 (Published 29 March 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j1520

On paper at least, the productivity of consultants is falling. But is this because the quality of their work is increasing? John Appleby investigates

On the face of it, measuring the productivity of the workers in an industry or business is straightforward. The ONS Productivity Handbook defines productivity as simply the volume of output per unit of input.1 Inputs (the number of workers) may increase over time, but if the outputs (widgets) increase at a faster rate then productivity will have increased. On this basis, have NHS hospital consultants been producing less, the same, or more widgets over the past few years?

It turns out that dividing one number (outputs) by another (inputs) to get a third (productivity) is somewhat harder in practice than the arithmetic implies.

Over the past seven years, the good news is that …

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