UK economy can withstand a doubling in health spending in next 50 years, conference hears

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 20 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4974
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

While the NHS is likely to face severe funding pressures in the next 50 years and absorb a growing proportion of public spending, the financial position looking forward is not hopeless, a meeting at the King’s Fund in London on 18 July was told.

John Appleby, chief economist at the fund, said that it was possible that by 2059 health spending would represent 16% of GDP, double the present 8%. “It doesn’t seem to me that will break the bank,” he said. The precise outcome was sensitive to many assumptions and would depend on political decisions and choices, but the US already spends more than 16% of its GDP on health.

The discussion was framed around the Office for Budget Responsibility’s Fiscal Sustainability Report.1 The office’s central estimate was that by 2060-1 NHS spending would …

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