Feature Data Briefing

Is the UK spending more than we thought on healthcare (and much less on social care)?

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i3094 (Published 06 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3094
  1. John Appleby, chief economist, King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}kingsfund.org.uk

John Appleby assesses the latest figures on UK health spending

New international accounting conventions suggest that the United Kingdom is spending much more on healthcare, both publicly and privately, than previously thought. The latest spending figures for 2014 published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), adjusted to comply with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) system for health accounts,1 have added around £21bn (€27bn; $30bn) to health spending—an overnight leap of 13% from the previous estimate for 2014. It also means that total public and private spending on health jumps from 8.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) to 9.9%. Can this be true, and what does it mean?

What it doesn’t mean is any material change in actual spending. The budget for the NHS, for example, has not suddenly increased. But it does have implications for how UK health (and social) care spending …

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