New data released by the Office for National Statistics has revealed that NHS productivity for the financial year ending 2017 grew by 3% in England, dramatically outstripping productivity growth in the rest of the economy.
The national average achieved over the same time period across wider the UK economy was just 0.8%, meaning the NHS more than tripled the average.
Actions taken by the NHS to improve efficiency included introducing a cost-per-hour cap on agency staff from November 2015, saving up to £200 million a year by curbing prescribing of medicines that have little or no benefit, and replacing 17 procedures with less invasive, safer treatments.
The savings and productivity improvements are expected to continue with the implementation of the newly announced NHS long term plan, which will deliver annual efficiency savings equivalent to around £1 billion in extra investment each year.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “These figures are a testimony to the dedication and skill of NHS staff whose efforts, along with new, more efficient ways of working, has led once again to the NHS outperforming the rest of the economy.
“They provide reassurance that NHS funding is and will continue to be used to maximum effect. Although the NHS is already demonstrably one of the most efficient health services in the world, our new NHS Long Term Plan will continue to bear down on waste and ensure that every penny is well spent.”
Health service productivity in England also outpaced that achieved in health services elsewhere in the UK, with a combined UK health service figure of 2.5% in 2016.