NHS costs up but output dives, says ONS

An embarrassing dispute broke out in Whitehall yesterday after John Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, condemned as "absurd" a report from the Government's own statisticians showing that NHS inefficiency had soared under Labour.

An embarrassing dispute broke out in Whitehall yesterday after John Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, condemned as "absurd" a report from the Government's own statisticians showing that NHS inefficiency had soared under Labour.

The productivity of the National Health Service has plunged by as much as 8 per cent since 1995 and fallen in every year since Labour was elected in 1997, the Office for National Statistics said.

The ONS, a department of the Treasury, said the NHS's cost bill soared by 39 per cent between 1995 and 2003 but output had failed to keep pace, posting a 28 per cent improvement.

The Conservatives seized on the report, saying it showed Gordon Brown's multibillion-pound investment in the NHS was going on higher costs rather than improved service.

The shadow Chancellor, Oliver Letwin, said: "They show that, on every one of the measures chosen by the statisticians, NHS productivity has declined under this Government. The simplest statistic of all - that spending on hospitals alone has risen five times as fast as the number of hospital treatments - tells the whole story of the colossal health inflation, waste and inefficiency that Gordon Brown's bureaucracy has built into the health service."

The report forced the Department of Health (DoH) to issue its own report showing value for money had increased by just under half a per cent in the 2002/2003 financial year. It said the ONS report, which is part of a three-year inquiry into public sector productivity, had failed to measure benefits from new drugs, home-based treatment and improved primary care.

Mr Reid said: "It's absurd that the current measure of productivity does not cover the range of massive improvements that are being seen across the NHS. While the ONS productivity measure is better than previous measures, more improvements are needed since it is still outdated and lags behind NHS improvements."

The DoH said: 6,000 to 7,000 lives each year are saved thanks to spending on life-saving heart drugs; waiting times have halved since 1997 and the overall waiting list has shrunk by 200,000; and cancer deaths are down by 10 per cent and deaths from heart disease by 23 per cent."

The Treasury referred calls to the DoH and the ONS said it would not comment on Mr Reid's remarks. Publishing the report Len Cook, the chief statistician, said the figures were not definitive. "We expect to continue to improve the reliability of these estimates over time," he said.

There was further embarrassment for the Government after a respected cross-party committee of MPs warned that £61bn in new spending could be swallowed up by red tape. The Public Accounts Committee urged the departments of health, education and transport to cut bureaucracy, simplify service delivery chains and rein in pay increases. Edward Leigh, its chairman, said: "It is vital that departments charged with spending billions of pounds of extra taxpayers' money, particularly in health, education and transport, make this count, resulting in real improvements."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'