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Feature Data Briefing

UK NHS: Less money (but more bangs per buck)?

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 10 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1037
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. 1King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}

John Appleby assesses whether NHS efficiency savings will meet the funding gap

Over the 12 years from 1997 to 2009 total spending on the NHS across the UK doubled in real terms; from £61.5bn (€84bn; $95bn) to £122.9bn—an average annual increase after inflation of 5.5% (fig 1).1 And then came the fallout from the combined blast of the global financial crisis and ensuing recession. Public spending in the UK has been severely squeezed, and although the NHS has been nominally protected from the deepest cuts of the government’s austerity programme, across the UK as a whole for the three years 2010 to 2012 its funding has been cut by 0.4% a year on average (fig 1)—with the biggest real cuts in 2010 and 2011. This has led to a fall in NHS spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) from …

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