Not so fast: how to slow activity growth

Ginsbury, S. Nuffield Trust. Published online: 21 Oct 2016


As edicts go it is neither the most catchy nor the most inspiring, but the new NHS must-do was finally articulated in last month’s joint operational planning guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement: activity growth moderation.

Activity growth moderation means what it says on the tin: slowing the pace at which the amount of activity the NHS does grows. That’s not the same as an absolute reduction in the level of activity or number of patients being treated but it does mean reducing the amount of care provided in the future compared the amount of care that would be providing were activity to continue to grow at the current trend.

That current trend is around three per cent extra care a year – measured in terms of more patients, with more complex needs, receiving more advanced health care, at a higher quality. All things being equal, the current level of funding would be able to sustain an activity growth rate nearer 2.4 per cent a year. But that would leave zero headroom to cope with periodic shocks such as a disease epidemic or the potential fall-out from Brexit. Perhaps for that reason, NHS England aims to reduce growth by one percentage point.

Read the full blog post here

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