Productivity in UK healthcare during and after the Covid-19 pandemic

The Productivity Institute Working Paper 002, Productivity in UK healthcare during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, is written by Professor Diane Coyle, Kaya Dreesbeimdieck and Annabel Manley from Cambridge University.

Measured health output in the UK has declined sharply during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the evident increase in some NHS activities such as critical care, and the new test and trace and vaccination programmes.

A new working paper from The Productivity Institute identifies the measurement methods applied to public services that explain the measured decline. It explores the likely impact of changes in hospital practices during the pandemic, – including increased use of technology – on healthcare productivity.

The paper’s authors found that within NHS England, capacity constraints have contributed to substantial falls in non-Covid-19 health care activities. They argue that increased capacity in the social infrastructure of the health service is essential to enable higher productivity in an uncertain environment.

The research is based on qualitative interviews (conducted in November and December 2020) in two English hospital trusts. It describes what happened in these hospitals during the pandemic and discusses which changes they made (such as use of technology or organisational changes) and may continue.