Keeping up with the demands is challenging, however, it is suggested that rethinking how to attain greater productivity and the way this is measured, may alleviate some of the pressures. Productivity is a simple comparison between the outputs produced by the NHS i.e. the amount and quality of care provided, with the inputs used to produce them i.e. staff, equipment, drugs clinical supplies etc. Improved productivity can be achieved through efficiency and cost measures or alternatively by getting better value from the existing budget.
The Carter Review was published in February 2016 and analysed the productivity and efficiency in non-specialist acute hospitals. The report concluded that there was significant unwarranted variation in costs and practice which, if addressed, could save the NHS £5bn. Two further reports by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation focus on consultant productivity in NHS hospitals and indicate this has fallen over the last six years. Both reports stress the need to rethink existing strategies and the Health Foundation highlight poor workforce planning as the chief cause of falling productivity.
Despite the recent political manoeuvrings, it would appear that an increase in NHS funding is not high on the list of priorities. All the while that budgets are being squeezed the need for NHS services is on the increase. Performance figures confirm a relentless demand with the NHS treating more patients than ever before.
Contrastingly and on a more positive note, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that overall healthcare productivity grew in 2014, by 2.3% as outputs grew to 5.2% with a 2.8% increase in inputs. This is the fifth consecutive year of growth with productivity increased on average by 9% from 1997 to 2014.
So how can productivity be improved in areas such as workforce planning and development, procurement, clinical practice and everyday processes ? ‘Doing something different’ to eliminate waste, improve efficiency and deliver greater value from the existing budget is vital. At Maguire Healthcare Training we believe that “the definition of insanity doing the same things over and over again,but expecting different results” Albert Einstein. So start by kick-starting a creative process and proactively manage the process of change.