The challenges of the NHS productivity goal

Kate Woodhead RGN DMS discusses the productivity challenges facing the NHS, as it faces strike action, a decline in goodwill, staff burnout and a mounting backlog. The problem is far from simple and will need to be addressed by tackling multiple factors.

Great strides have been taken across English Trusts to tackle the backlog of care for urgent and emergency care, cancer tests, long waits, and many types of diagnostic services to meet patient’s needs and to recover from COVID-19. They have introduced a range of initiatives designed to improve staff morale such as more facilities for staff health and wellbeing, alongside processes to help discharge patients faster and adaptations to buildings to treat more patients. 

However, some of the significant barriers to continuation of the progress are being felt by the recent industrial action which has been dragging on in different professional groups over the last eight months. This has served to increase costs due to having to staff the gaps with agency and locum staff, in dealing with the huge number of cancelled outpatient appointments, surgical operations or many other urgent procedures.1

Apart from the days lost to industrial action, excellent progress is being made to cut waiting lists, although they are still growing and sit around the seven million mark. The productivity challenge is that Trusts need to be able to see more patients, undertake more procedures and all this while protecting quality and safety. 

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