Published on 31 March 2021
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Productivity in UK healthcare during and after the Covid-19 pandemic

Increased capacity in the social infrastructure of the health service is essential to enable higher productivity in an environment made uncertain by the pandemic. This working paper discusses productivity in healthcare and how to measure it going forward.

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

We identify the measurement methods applied to public services that explain the measured decline, and also explore the likely impact of changes in hospital practices during the pandemic, including increased use of technology, on healthcare productivity.

We find that within NHS England the capacity constraints have contributed to substantial falls in non-Covid-19 health care activities, and argue that increased capacity in the social infrastructure of the health service is essential to enable higher productivity in an uncertain environment.


How has the pandemic impacted on the performance of the healthcare sector? In this episode of The Productivity Institute’s (TPI) podcast series, host Prof Bart van Ark, TPI, talks to Prof Diane Coyle, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, and Kaya M. Dreesbeimdiek, University of Cambridge, about their paper. They’re joined by Dr Jennifer Dixon, The Health Foundation. They discuss how we measure health productivity, what has happened to health productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic and ask how we rebuild a resilient health care sector to enable higher productivity in an uncertain environment.


Diane Coyle 2018

Professor Diane Coyle

Bennett Professor of Public Policy and Co-Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy

Professor Coyle co-directs the Institute with Professor Kenny. She is heading research under the progress and productivity themes. Biography Professor Dame Diane Coyle is the Bennett Professor of Public Policy...

Annabel Manley

Kaya Dreesbeimdiek

Kaya Dreesbeimdiek is a research student and researcher at the Engineering Design Centre (EDC). She is a member of the Healthcare Design Group. Her research focusses on resilience analysis of...

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