New data from the Office of National Statistics shows that between 1997 and 2017, total healthcare expenditure in the UK increased from £54.5 billion to £177.4 billion, growing by an average annual rate of 6.1%.
The figures prompted Professor Derek Bell, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, to say he is “deeply concerned about the NHS’ long-term sustainability, not only as regards funding, but also in terms of ensuring that we can recruit and retain a suitably qualified and able workforce.”
This report, he argues, "indicates that health spending by government in the UK has slowed, growing by just 0.3% in real terms in 2017. This is the lowest since records began in 2013.
"While we welcome the Government’s promise of £20bn extra for the NHS over the next 5 years, we note that the UK has consistently lagged behind most G7 nations on health spending as a share of GDP.”
In 2017, spending on healthcare in the UK totalled £197.3 billion, equating to approximately £2,988 spent per person, or 9.6% of GDP.
Also, health spending grew by 3.3% between 2016 and 2017 in current prices, largely attributed to slower growth in government spending in real terms.
“The Government must continue to work closely with medics and the UK Medical Royal Colleges, such as the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh", continued Professor Bell, "to ensure that their concerns around pensions, contracts, rota gaps, shift patterns, training and health and wellbeing are addressed.”