Fewer hospital beds and rising staff sickness dragging down NHS, says IFS
The NHS is less productive now than it was before the pandemic despite an increase in spending each year since 2019.
In October 2022, the NHS carried out 14 per cent fewer emergency admissions, 14 per cent fewer outpatient appointments and 11 per cent fewer elective and maternity admissions than in the same month in 2019, according to a report by the the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) today.
The IFS explained that the national health service has around 135,000 hospital beds, fewer than before the pandemic, which has weighed significantly on productivity.
The Conservative party had pledged in its manifesto to build 40 new hospitals, however, this is yet to come to fruition.
More NHS funding is not translating to better care, the report added, after the pandemic period left many healthcare staff burnt out.
NHS staff are increasingly getting sick, with absence over illness rates running well above pre-pandemic levels.
Weakening productivity has been fuelled by the fact “that the NHS just doesn’t have enough hospital beds” to meet demand, said the IFS.
But despite the NHS having more staff than it did three years ago, they may be “on average less productive” as a result of rising sickness rates.