NHS Finance

07.06.18

IFS and Health Foundation: UK health spending lags behind Europe

The UK’s health spending is lagging behind other European countries, according to a new report commissioned by NHS Confederation.

Despite the UK spending more on healthcare than ever before, its expenditure in proportion to national income is lower than Europe’s other two largest economies, France and Germany.

The report, written by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Health Foundation, noted that as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the UK spends less on health than Germany, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Austria.

Figures from 2016 show that at 9.5% as a share of national income, health spending in the UK “falls substantially below” Germany and France, at 11.3% and 11% respectively.

According to the NHS Confederation, if the UK were to spend the same proportion of its national income on health as Germany in the next year, the health budget would receive an additional £30bn.

Not only this, but the UK also employs fewer doctors per head than all other EU countries.

In 2015, the UK had just 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people, compared to 4.1 doctors per 1,000 in Germany and 3.3 doctors per 1,000 in France.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The choice we have to make is what sort of health and care system we are willing to pay for.

“The reality is that many other European countries, such as Germany and France, are already spending more than us on health.”

He argued that increasing funding through taxation in line with the report’s findings would only take the UK to the lower-middle ranks of other comparable European countries in terms of the amount of tax paid.

“Our report has sparked an important debate among politicians and the public about the future of health and social care in this country. It is hugely encouraging to see signs that it is now a priority on the government’s agenda,” he added.

Dickson concluded: “The evidence shows that we cannot go on running as we are. We face a choice between significant investment or a period of managed decline.”

Top image: georgeclerk

 

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