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England NHS 'most efficient'

20th January 2010

A new study has suggested the NHS in England provides better value for money than in other parts of the UK.

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Research group the Nuffield Trust found the NHS in England won out over the health services in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

In England, according to the Nuffield Trust, there were fewer health staff per head, higher levels of activity and productivity and shorter waiting times. However there was no indication of major variations in quality of care.

In what is the first major analysis of NHS efficiency the organisation compared a range of factors over the decade to 2006/07.

England has fewer doctors, nurses and managers per head of population and is now seeing all patients within 18 weeks, whereas Scotland will not hit that target until the end of 2011.

Falls have been noticed in productivity across the UK, but were most significant in Scotland.

Director of the Nuffield Trust, Dr Jennifer Dixon acknowledged some of the differences may be because of the historical differences in funding levels.

But she added: "Some will reflect the different policies pursued by each of the four nations since 1999, in particular the greater pressure put on NHS bodies in England to improve performance in a few key areas such as waiting and efficiency, via targets, strong performance management, public reporting of performance by regulators and financial incentives."

While the Department of Health in England said the findings were a testament to staff hard work, Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the comparison was unfair and out-of-date.

 

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