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Reduced discretionary effort by staff is affecting NHS productivity, report finds

BMJ 2024; 385 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.q1127 (Published 20 May 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;385:q1127
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

A drop in staff discretionary effort may have contributed to a fall in health service productivity since the covid pandemic, an NHS England board paper has said. The paper, published on 16 May, said that, although NHS productivity was difficult to measure, best estimates from data for the acute care sector indicated that it was lower in 2023-24 than before the pandemic.1

Research conducted by think tanks, NHS England, and local NHS organisations suggested that there were several reasons for this, the paper said. These included the fact that the NHS “operated as a very lean system pre-pandemic, with very little spare capacity to absorb shocks such as covid, …

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