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South West NHS “most productive”

It has been claim that the NHS could cut expenditure by £3.2bn without reducing the number of patients treated if all parts of the country were as productive as the South West. The assertion was made by the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York following a study into the amount and quality of hospital and community care provided to patients in each Strategic Health Authority (SHA) in relation to resource use.


They found that productivity is 5% higher than the national average in the South West SHA and 6.5% lower than the national average in the East Midlands SHA. By implication, the report said, if it were as productive as the South West, the East Midlands could deliver the current amount of hospital and community care for £4.7bn rather than the £5.3bn actually spent.


[quote top=Sir Ian Carruthers OBE, chief executive of the South West SHA, said:]This independent report by the University of York is a testament to the dedication and hard work of staff working in NHS organisations across the South West.


We know that efficiency and high quality care go hand in hand. This report is a powerful endorsement which stands the NHS locally in good stead to face the financial and productivity challenges ahead, when the NHS will be required to deliver even more efficiently.[/quote]


The explanation for the disparity may lie in where patients seek treatment. It was found that 15% of patients who live in the East Midlands are treated in hospitals outside their own region. This is the case for only 2% of patients living in the South West. The South West may also benefit from a more stable workforce, with vacancy rates for non-medical staff being well below the national average.

A Department of Health spokesperson commented: "The findings from York University confirm the Department's own analysis, and reiterate the need to tackle the issue of productivity in the NHS.


“Our recent White Paper 'Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS' proposes handing power to health professionals, putting them in the driving seat to innovate and redesign services, using their clinical expertise and based on the needs of their local communities. This will help to increase productivity and improve health outcomes for patients as well as reduce bureaucracy so that every penny saved is reinvested back into front-line services."