A 3.3% drop in productivity in healthcare has been caused by understaffing and a lack of funding, according to health minister Mike O’Brien.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that NHS productivity fell by 3.3% between 1995 and 2008.
Mr O’Brien, said: “In 1997, the NHS was severely understaffed and under-funded. We have had to address this understaffing and that has affected productivity.”
The data found a mismatch between inputs and outputs, leading to an annual productivity fall of 0.3% on average.
This means there was a drop in the amount of NHS activity for every pound spent on publicly funded healthcare, mainly the NHS.
Inputs refer to the volume of goods and services, including clinical supplies, and spend on staff including nurses, doctors and support workers. Healthcare inputs grew by 75%, averaging 4.4% growth a year, the ONS data showed.
But healthcare output grew by just 69% overall, averaging 4.1% growth a year.
From 1995 to 2001, productivity was broadly stable as output and inputs grew at a similar pace, the ONS said.
But from 2001 to 2008 productivity declined as inputs grew more quickly than outputs every year except 2005 and 2006.
Productivity in 2008 is estimated to have fallen by 0.7%, compared with a fall of 0.3% in 2007.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Staff across the NHS and the public know that too much money in the NHS has been wasted, that there is too much bureaucracy and the resources have not got to the front line.
“The Conservatives will not only protect the NHS budget but will ensure that resources actually get to the front line. We will focus spending on improving results for patients.”