General Article Health spending as a share of GDP remains at lowest level in a decade

Topic Selected: National Health Book Volume: 392

Key points

  • As a share of GDP, spending on health in the UK in 2018/19 was roughly the same as it was in 2011/12, and is only marginally above where it was in 2008/09.
  • This is the result of low growth in health spending, which has risen by 1.6% a year on average since 2011/12, around the same rate as GDP growth.
  • This is less than half the long-run trend of growth in health spending, which is 3.6% a year in real terms.
  • In 2018/19 the UK spent around £153bn on health, in 2019/20 prices. This is an increase of 2% compared to the previous year and is ten times more than was spent sixty years earlier, in 1958/59. On average health spending has increased by 3.6% a year over the history of the NHS as a result of the UK’s growing population, the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions, and the rising costs of delivering care.

However, over the last decade this growth in health spending has slowed, reaching just 1.6% a year since 2011/12. At that point health spending was 7.3% of GDP, a...

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