This analysis is an update to the April 2015 Health Foundation report, Hospital finances and productivity: in critical condition?

Download Acute hospital productivity.

The analysis shows that the productivity of acute hospitals in England has continued to deteriorate. Overall, the productivity of acute hospitals increased by only 0.3% between 2009/10 and 2014/15 – an average rate of 0.1% per year. Between 2009/10 and 2014/15 as a whole, activity growth and input growth have converged leading to the very low level of annual average productivity growth.

It is important to note that this is an estimate of productivity growth in the acute sector, and it excludes outpatient activity. It is possible that we have underestimated the true rate of acute productivity if hospitals achieved a higher rate of productivity growth for outpatients. Equally, we do not measure productivity for NHS providers of mental health and community services. 

The NHS in England needs to make 2-3% of efficiency savings each year between 2015/16 and 2020/21 to close the projected £22bn gap between the resources available and funding pressures. Recent trends, combined with cuts to public health funding and pressures on social care, would suggest this efficiency target is extremely ambitious.

The briefing is available to download as a report or slide pack, from the Publication Options section of this page.

Further reading