NHS productivity falls as spending rises by billions under Labour
Official figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics show that the amount of treatment the NHS delivers is lagging behind the pace of increase in the service’s budget.
Critics said the statistics showed the NHS had absorbed huge amounts of money with very little to show for it and the Government must reform its management instead of pumping in ever more funding.
NHS productivity fell by 2.0 per cent a year between 2001 and 2005, according to the Centre for the Measurement of Government Activity, the ONS unit that monitors public spending. That was the period of the biggest funding increase in NHS history.
From 1995 to 2006, the NHS annual budget more than doubled from £39 billion to £89.7 billion.
Andrew Lansley, the Conservative shadow health secretary, said the figures proved that Labour’s approach to the NHS had failed.
“Spending more money if it’s not spent well doesn’t necessarily deliver the services you are looking for,” he said, accusing Labour’s use of centralised targets and management of undermining the delivery of healthcare.
As an example, Mr Lansley cited the latest central NHS contract for GPs’ surgeries. A Whitehall audit earlier this year found that the contract had lead to family doctors earning 58 per cent more for doing 5 per cent less work.
The Department of Health said it was more important to focus on improvements in the quality and availability of treatment.
A spokesman said: “Ten years ago people died waiting for operations, today waiting lists are at the lowest ever. The NHS is treating more patients, treating them faster and treating them more safely
“It is also easier to access NHS treatment – through NHS Direct, walk in centres and at A&E; where over 97% of people are now seen within four hours.
And it is easier to see your GP because of extended opening hours in the evening or at weekends
“There are 280,000 more doctors, nurses and other essential staff working for the NHS than in 1997 and all NHS staff have enjoyed well deserved pay rises.