A key feature of the NHS Better Care, Better Value indicators published by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement is the ‘productivity opportunity’ figure for each PCT and acute provider.

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This tracks the resources that could be saved if performance improved to that of organisations in the top 25 per cent. For the third quarter of 2007-08 the indicators show an increase in the total productivity opportunity, as fewer trusts appear to be working as efficiently as the top 25 per cent (first chart).

Improved accuracy and timeliness of trust data appear to have resulted in significantly higher reported clinical activity levels for quarter 3. As the productivity opportunity figure is based on organisational performance and the reported clinical activity levels in each quarter, the potential savings have deteriorated significantly even though performance against the indicators has improved.

A more in-depth analysis of the secondary uses service dataidentified the impact of the move to this service. This reveals a significant increase in the reported activity levels. Although this more timely reporting means data submitted by trusts more accurately reflects the volume and type of care provided, it also means an increase in the total productivity opportunity figures for the published length of stay and pre-operative bed day indicators in particular, when recalculated for previous quarters using the most recent SUS data submitted by trusts to end of February 2008.

The second chart shows the impact on the productivity opportunity of the increased reported activity and accuracy. The recalculated length of stay productivity opportunity has a higher initial value but shows a steady improvement since April 2006. This data was then used to calculate an “activity-adjusted productivity opportunity” standardised to the reported activity levels for quarter one 2006.

Overall reduction in the productivity opportunity this quarter is£26m. But adjusted for clinical activity, it rises to£343m.

NHS organisations can benchmark their performance, prioritise areas for improvement and track progress against the NHS Better Care, Better Value indicators using the NHS Indicator Explorer online tool at www.nhsindicatorexplorer.productivity.nhs.uk

Full figures on all the indicators for quarter 3 2007-08 are available at www.productivity.nhs.uk