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King’s Fund calls on physios to focus on better outcomes at lower cost

16 July 2015 - 11:39am

Physiotherapists and other NHS staff must engage in a new mission to deliver better outcomes at lower costs, says a King’s Fund report.

King’s Fund calls on physios to focus on better outcomes at lower cost

The comprehensive report includes data on budgets, length of stay, falls prevention and more. Image adapted from the full report, available below

The document, Better value in the NHS, was published by the health think tank on 7 July. It includes evidence which suggests there are ‘significant opportunities’ to get better value from NHS budgets.

Improvements in overall NHS productivity in England have been ‘modest’ over the past 35 years, it found.

Estimates of the average annual growth in NHS productivity from the early 1980s to 2012-13 range from about 0.7 per cent to 1.2 per cent. This is below the two to three per cent gains the NHS would have to achieve to deliver the £22 billion in productivity improvements identified in NHS England’s recent Five year forward view.

The King’s Fund says it is possible to pick out some key areas that should be a focus for improvement. These include preventing falls among people living in the community.

Using data from the CSP, it estimates that if all older people in England at risk of falling were referred to physiotherapy, 187,462 annual falls could be prevented, saving the NHS £275 million a year.

The report says that the average length of stay in hospitals in England has fallen from 10.5 days in 1974 to four days in 2013-14. But comparisons with other countries, and data on variations in performance between hospitals in the NHS, suggest that there are further gains could be made.

If further reductions of 15 per cent were made by 2023-24, the NHS would be able to treat about 18 per cent more patients than it did in 2013-14 – and within the same overall budget – it says.

Further evidence suggests that there are many opportunities to get better value from the NHS’s £116 billion budget through changes in clinical practice.

The NHS could more improve the support given to people who are frail and have complex needs while they make the transition between home and hospital. Measures include preventing inappropriate hospital admissions, improving patient flow as patients move through hospital and other care settings, and improving discharge and reablement as people move out of hospital.

However, Chris Ham, the King’s Fund chief executive, acknowledges that physiotherapists – and other clinicians –will need time and support to improve care and release resources. Their efforts will need to be complemented by system-wide changes in how services are delivered.

‘All of these efforts in turn will need to be supported by political leaders and national bodies, particularly where difficult and unpopular decisions need to be made about where services are provided,’ he says.

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