NHS efficiency


Spending on the NHS will increase each year between 2011 and 2015. But demand for health services is rising, and what we expect of the NHS changes as society changes, for example as people live longer.

New drugs and treatments are always coming onto the market, so it’s important that the NHS makes the best possible use of the funds available.


Efficiency savings

We want the NHS to make up to £20 billion worth of efficiency savings by 2015, so there are more funds available for treating patients and to allow the NHS to respond to changing demands and new technologies.

The Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) initiative sets out how the NHS is planning to make these savings, at the same time as they’re improving the quality of care.

For example, it should be possible to reduce expensive hospital admissions by:

  • getting patients more involved in managing their own conditions, where possible
  • treating more patients closer to home

New technology

By 2015 we want all hospitals to be keeping patient records electronically rather than on paper, so staff only need to collect and record information about patients once. This should make things more efficient, reduce the chance of mistakes that might compromise patient safety and make it easier for health and social care services to work together.

Also by 2015, all patients should be able to book GP appointments, order a repeat prescription and communicate with their GP surgery online.

Management and commissioning

We plan to reduce the costs of managing the NHS by changing NHS management and commissioning.

Providing data

At the moment NHS trusts and other organisations are sending around 260,000 reports a year to the Department of Health. Much of this is useful, but we’re reviewing the data to identify what’s worth collecting in future and what isn’t.

We consulted on changing the data return rules in August 2011, and we’re due to publish detailed proposals in spring 2013.

Medical research

We want to simplify how research is regulated as part of our plans to increase innovation in medical science.

Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) and procurement

We’re looking at new approaches to Private Finance Initiatives and NHS procurement.


The ‘Power of information’ report, published in May 2012, has details of our plans for making health services available online.

We published the white paper ‘Equity and excellence: liberating the NHS’ in July 2012. It set out proposals for the future of the NHS - including plans to make it more efficient.

We consulted on these proposals, and published the government’s response to the consultation in December 2010.

The ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’ white paper has details of plans for collecting more data on how well public health approaches are working.

We set out plans to improve NHS procurement in ‘NHS procurement: raising our game’ and updated in ‘Creating change: innovation, health and wealth one year on’.

Who we’re working with

The government’s mandate to NHS England, published in November 2012, gives NHS England responsibility for making sure the NHS achieves the efficiency savings we’ve asked them to make.

We’re working with the health sector regulator Monitor to make sure it focuses on efficiency as well as quality when carrying out its new regulatory responsibilities.

Bills and legislation

We needed new powers to introduce some of these changes - for example, setting up NHS England and clinical commissioning groups. Most of these new powers are in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.