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Health Service productivity: The Economist - 8 March 06

Economist, 4 March 2006

An article in The Economist suggested that new ONS figures on health service productivity were confusing and that ONS had accepted output estimates from the Department of Health 'without questioning them'.

 

Sir,

Thank you for entering the debate about how to measure productivity in the NHS (Health Service Productivity. Take your pick, 4 March). Our article does indeed demonstrate a wide variety of estimates are possible depending on measures of input and output used and assumptions made about them.

The reality is that, at present, there is no accepted measure of the value of total NHS output, nor do comprehensive data exist to calculate one. That is why our work, and that of others on which it is based, falls firmly into the 'on-going research category'.

We have neither accepted nor rejected the Department of Health's output estimates. We hope ONS work will stimulate others to work in this field, including testing the Atkinson Report principle of increasing value in a growing economy. To assist in this, ONS will be facilitating a wide ranging public consultation and debate.

Yours faithfully,

Karen Dunnell
National Statistician
Office for National Statistics
1 Drummond Gate
London SW1V 2QQ

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