Introducing healthcare improvement
Introducing healthcare improvement

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2.5 Efficient care

Described image
Figure 3 Efficient healthcare includes getting the most benefits out of the budget available.

Efficient care means that it should be cost effective and not wasteful. Healthcare providers always need to be concerned about costs and value for money, but increasing demand and pressure on resources has led to an even greater emphasis on improving efficiency in recent years. For example, a report on the funding pressures facing the NHS includes the following conclusion:

This analysis suggests that without unprecedented, sustained increases in health service productivity, funding for the NHS in England will need to increase in real terms between 2015/16 and 2021/22 to avoid cuts to the service or a fall in the quality of care patients receive. This could be avoided if the government were to return the NHS in England to funding growth at the historic (pre-2010/11) average rate of four per cent a year in real terms. However this is highly unlikely, with further cuts to total public spending already planned until 2017.

(Nuffield Trust, 2012)

Activity 7

Let’s consider this report by John Øvretveit for The Health Foundation entitled ‘Does improving quality save money? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’ (2009). Turn to the abstract on pages ix and x.

Note down all of the points raised in this abstract about the link between improving quality and saving money.


  • Poor quality care is common and is costly – there is a financial and human cost to poor quality care.
  • Interventions to improve quality have varying costs and some can be quite costly.
  • Not all interventions are effective and therefore, these will not be cost effective.
  • Much of the research Øvretveit examined did not include the cost of the quality improvement intervention and so the cost effectiveness is undetermined.
  • Managers and policy makers should be sceptical when the intervention costs are not outlined, but should seek to adopt interventions with evidence for effectiveness and savings.
  • More research should be provided about effective interventions, their cost and the support they need to be successful and result in savings.

Adapted from Øvretveit (2009)

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