A year of plenty?

An analysis of NHS finances and consultant productivity

March 2017

Sarah Lafond
Adam Roberts
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Key points

  • Additional funding for health care was announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement. It has been front-loaded in 2015/16 and 2016/17. For this investment, primary care and mental health were stated as priorities.
  • Rising costs outstripped growth in funding for NHS providers, whose financial position continued to worsen.
  • Demand for care is rising faster than NHS provider income, with emergency admissions crowding out elective admissions.
  • Efficiency gains are becoming increasingly difficult and are below target.
  • The number of consultants has increased, but productivity has fallen.
  • The NHS does not operate in isolation; system change is needed to tackle its financial problems and their root causes.

The NHS is facing unprecedented financial pressures 2.5 years after the publication of the Five year forward view.

This report analyses the finances of NHS providers and the consultant productivity of acute NHS hospitals, drawing on their annual acounts from 2009/10 to 2015/16 and linking this to wider NHS data.

Our analyses show that NHS providers saw relatively little of the income growth for the NHS as a whole, and that productivity for consultants and the wider workforce in acute hospitals has been falling.

Further reading

Research report

A perfect storm: an impossible climate for NHS providers’ finances?

This report examines the financial performance of the NHS in England, with the main focus on the finances of NHS providers an...

Research report

Hospital finances and productivity: In a critical condition?

In this report we examine the financial performance of NHS providers, focusing on hospitals.

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